Silicone Bakeware – Safe?

blurry goopy mass of silicone

Ugh, this is silcone in ‘gloopy’ state!(Photo credit: Rakka)

I do quite a bit of baking nowadays and so does half the nation if GBBO is anything to go by. I don’t watch it personally: reminds me too much of what I can’t eat!

Anyway, I usually use paper liners in metal loaf, cake and muffin tins and wondered if it might be cheaper/easier to buy silicone bakeware instead. And they are SO pretty, too. I decided to look into it a bit.

In summary, it seems that silicone is supposedly an inert substance made from silicon and oxygen bonded together. I am not a chemist but I did read some stuff from someone who is a materials engineer, and they explained that several chemicals can be used to help the production process of creating your mats and muffin cases. I don’t know what those chemicals are. I do know that cheaper versions of the mats etc can contain fillers to bring the production costs down. Apparently, if you twist a silicone product and see white, it most probably has fillers. Again, I don’t know what those fillers are.

People on several corn forums I asked seemed to generally be Ok with it but some had issues like rashes and other reactions.

I have an innate distrust of heating food up in plastics. Those toast cases etc make me nervous. Some users of silicone bakeware report a kind of rubber smell, I have had a couple of people react with headaches and their usual MCS (multiple chemical sensitivity) symptoms etc, but then loads of other people have no issues at all. They know of.

So, for me, people saying silicone bakeware is safe may be declaring it too soon. It doesn’t seem to me that many studies have been done yet and, again, we are being human guinea pigs.

My own decision – albeit I am hyper-sensitive to many foods and substances and truly dislike toxic chemicals in my environment – is to stick with spatulas and possibly mats but not use any silicone that gets heated.

That’s me anyway, what do you reckon? What do you use?

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27 thoughts on “Silicone Bakeware – Safe?

  1. Totally agree Micki. Would love to buy some of the silicone bakeware but am very suspicious of chemicals leaching into the food…it’s just not natural putting ‘plastics’ into the oven!

  2. Totally agree Micki. Have been wanting to buy some silicone bakeware for ages, it looks so easy to use apart from anything else but cannot see how some chemicals cannot leach into the food once it is heated up….not to be risked for anyone’s health, sensitive or not.

  3. I’m with you Micki, just can’t get my head round heating it up, but the spatulas are great! I want to look into greaseproof and parchment paper more as not sure how safe that is either, any thoughts?

    • Hi Karen,

      I have no experience with papers for baking so I don’t know the history of the coatings on them or what they might have become these days. When I see the phrase greaseproof my first thought might be some kind of wax. I have since lost the link, but I visited a website on beeswax candles when I was on the trail of paraffin toxicity and the fact that they put LEAD wires in limp wicks to keep them from curling and snuffing. On that beeswax candle site one of the posters said that they entered the office of a CEO of a major petroleum company with wax in her hand and he backed away and went behind his desk and looked very uncomfortable when she put it down on his desk.

      Ever since reading that and taking it at face value with no confirmation I have always viewed paraffins as toxins. Please consider what waxes might do to coat your already damaged intestines. Unfortunately for us avid bakers this means abandoning things like citrus zest because in the worst case scenario here in The Colonies you would be scraping off the wax coating, the antifungal chemical wash, whatever microbes that got stuck to the wax, and whatever topical pesticides were used during growing. Lead arsenate was an age-old favorite. Even if they don’t use it today, it is in the soil so even orchards certified as organic might have the trees pulling the PbAs out of the soil and putting it into the fruit. I actually know folks that have moved to Patagonia to try to get away from some of this madness.

  4. I am with you Micki. You can’t be too careful. I line everything (including containers) with the “If you Care” parchment baking paper. It is chlorine free and says the silicone is derived from sand/quartz/rock. Don’t know if it contains filelrs but it’s the best I have found so far. Apparently some baking papers are coated with Quilon which contains chromium. Interested to hear what other people use.

    • Great tips. Where do you get the If You Care stuff from, Sharon? I confess I am just using Sainsbury’s own paper muffin cases and loaf tin liners. Or I was until they decided to dye them brown and I don’t want dyes in my food, thank very much! I have also used Lakeland ones. All seem OK but I shall have to look at the papers more carefully.

  5. Hi Micki & Glutenaughts. I am always learning so many unexpected things from you guys. I would never use silicon or any modern bakeware for the exact reasons that you all are citing. When I bake I use pyrex glassware with lots of oil. People freak out too much about oils and heat damaged oils. A high heat oil like coconut if you are a vegan works just fine. I also use olive oil if a non-confection taste is acceptable. Right now I am experimenting with cast iron cookware. Think about it: ancient people did just fine without fancy alkymy. There are many dangers to iron cookware as well. The garbage from Asia can come pre-coated with phosphides. Unless you see bare, gray metal that you have to ‘season’ yourself with a nice polymer coating of burnt oil, then it is not fit to use. If you have never experienced cooking with iron skillets that sluice food off of them as if they were teflon then you are missing something significant. I have never seen the use of paper liners except for cupcakes when I was a kid. Back in those hazy years they were nasty bits that stuck to the bakedgoods and were colored festive colors that were probably toxic. I know that you are all conscientious enough to avoid such abominations but please look into ‘paper sizing’ to see if it applies. Quite often paper goods (and even the fabrics that they stretch over your mattress) are ‘sized’ with STARCH. Sorry to rain on your silicon picnic, but I’ve got a lifetime of distrust for anyone with someone to sell including paper doilies.

    • Thanks Patrick, good tips there. I am using ceramic pans generally in the kitchen, which seem to work well. We are going to have to look more carefully at these papers. I am too lazy to wash burnt-on pans!

  6. Update: the Lakeland paper liners are siliconized!!! Who knew; I missed that! Checking Sainsbury’s…

  7. http://www.ahlstrom.com/en/products/enduseApplication/foodAndRetail/BakingAndBakeryPackaging/Pages/Bakingandbakerypackagingpapers.aspx
    Found this parchment paper from AHlstrom but they’re in Finland, have emailed to see if its available in the UK but it does say silconized yet it also says ‘totally pure, no hidden chemicals?’ Leaving me a little confused, can anyone help?

    http://www.utsandiego.com/uniontrib/20050803/news_lz1f03wrap.html
    Interesting to read…

    It’s a whole new world…great to be in touch!

    • Ah, my newbie TGF child, you have much to learn! The words ‘pure’ and ‘chemical-free’ should not be trusted; they are marketing terms. It is siliconized. End of. The only question is whether you like the idea of using siliconized stuff or not. As I have said above, some say silicone stuff is totally natural, others say it uses chemicals to process. Interesting to see what they come back with – do let us know.

  8. Re silicone baking moulds, i was similarly suspicious, but having been given one, used it. Heat did not go through it well, and the cake took ages to bake. Also, it smelt of hot plastic, which is not reassuring. I hear some people love them. What is wrong with a good coating of oil or basic grease proof paper? Are all the papers treated, or just the non-stick? Is there a starchy coating that could act like the layer of flour put over the initial layer of oil when a cake is a very sticky type? Has anyone tried potato flour for this? Cake tins can be made non stick ,or prooved, in similar ways to cast iron cook ware. Be sure to wash them in plain water, no detergent, and dry them thoroughly in a warm place, just re-proof if it has needed a very thorough washing.

  9. I’m a bit wary too. I don’t do a huge amount of baking and also worry about the non stick trays, if this non stick layer is compromised is it bad for you? I’ve never bought any silicone and don’t like the sound of it either. I don’t even like using the microwave but do you us on odd occasions. I do alsays make sure I have baking parchment, amazing stuff. So much better than greaseproof paper which doesn’t really stop thing sticking at all.

    • I wonder what greaseproof paper/parchment paper is made of/with – I have no idea. I feel more investigation coming on! Does anyone know if it is ‘sized’? Janeyc that sounds horrible, doesn’t it, then, and that we are not missing much in baking terms! I am not a natural baker so I have not tried non-stick pans, or paper – do you have to cut it to size, sounds like a faff – anything for an easy life which is why I was looking at the easy silicone options 😉 Ruth, I don’t like non-stick because yes, it does come off eventually and is toxic. So, paper looks favourite – which one? Sharon, where is your If You Care stuff from?

  10. Food for thought!! If there is a natural paper out there, we could use it to make our own cupcake/muffin squares. Quite often nowadays cupcakes are baked in these tulip/squares to look pretty (and they do!) but I’m guessing they are siliconized or chemicalised one way or another! Will ponder when I get five! This is the sort of thing I mean but these are undoubtedly …http://www.bakerscreations.com/product-details/191-Tulip-Muffin-Wraps—Natural-Colour/

    Just found If you care on Amazon so creativity session over…..http://www.amazon.co.uk/If-You-Care-27374-Baking/dp/B00060YJ24/ref=sr_1_4?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1382966815&sr=1-4&keywords=if+you+care

  11. Honestly, where does the small print end :-/
    http://ifyoucare.com/product/fsc-certified-parchment-baking-paper-fsc-c005046
    Back to Blue Peter…..

    • Bum. It’s everywhere! Thanks for that Karen. Just done a walnut/sultana loaf using greaseproof paper so we’ll see how that turns out in about 40 minutes!

  12. Wow, Micki. That’s a good bit of research. Can’t say I have problems, but I don’t use silicone very often. Good luck!

  13. Hope the loaf was good Micki – sounds nice! Looked more into the glass (Patrick mentioned above) and Pyrex do a glass baking sheet and a glass loaf pan, these have really good reviews too, only downside seems to be the weight.

    • Loaf came out fine actually. Still don’t know what’s in the paper tho. I will endeavour to find out. Like the Pyrex glass idea, Fab, thanks Karen. Have added them to my recommended items on the Suppliers bit of the Purehealth site. Am just updating that area anyway.

    • Hi Karen,

      In the days before I gave up wheat flour completely, I was using up some bleached (don’t yell at me) white flour with LOTS of soy oil (don’t yell at me) in the bottom of the pan to keep it from sticking. The sponge of dough at the end of the bake cycle was so saturated with the oil that it of course plopped right out of the pan, but it tasted EXACTLY like a Twinkie. I had always wondered how they made those things. As time went by I also had to give up barley flour (still has gliadin in it) and then abandoned all gluteny of gluten. I still use tremendous amounts of oil in my cooking but I have the kind of constitution where I literally eat thousands of calories per meal and never gain an ounce. No one better dare write to say that they wish they had that problem because it is pure Ach Ee Double Toothpicks and I’m not talking the kind you stick in the loaf to see if it is done. I am currently experimenting with a quality iron skillet that I cleaned and am reseasoning to see what the best way to make baked goods is, i.e. is it best to have a large pan with thin contents or a small pan with thick contents. I can say that fried foods in the iron skillet slip out like it was teflon.

  14. How about ceramic muffin pans?? Just found these: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00FKZ2E18 and http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00B58JQGU Wonder if they would be safer. I swear by my Le Creuset saucepans…?

    • Hello Micki,

      Sorry to be a wet blanket in the stoves of your dreams but I worked in industry and studied chemistry. That is how I became the damp woolen smoke-maker that I am. Commercial products and their descriptions border on criminally misleading language. Ceramics in the purest sense of the word are metallic materials made from what you would consider unlikely candidates such as the alkaline earth metals of Calcium, etc. Ceramics, of course, also is used to denote everything from clay pots to put your plants in to the glazed figurines you have on your knickknack shelves.

      Without a chemistry definition of what a ceramic is, and ITS COATING (emphasis, not shouting) then you will never really know what has contact with the food (surface coating) and what might leach into the tasty gooey mess before it sets up into a fluffy treat. Our beloved FDA has some exquisite weasel rules out here in the Colonies that if you put FREON ONTO French Fries to maintain that ‘fresh’ taste that it does not have to be labeled because it was not put INTO the food (that is if you consider FF food —) Also, BHA and BHT are allowed in the cereal box PACKAGING that does not require the label to list them as ingredients because they were not IN the Fruit Loops (that is if you like floating multicolored donuts of death for breakfast).

      So, I hate to task you with yet another Materials Science investigation, but I am sure that all of us would like to know if we need an oven mitt or WALDOs to be handling our cookware. Thanks in advance.

    • Look at these gorgeous cute glass muffin cups. I want some! Also I see they come as a simple set of 4.

  15. Update from Karen: “I called Ahlstrom and the guy was very willing to help.

    The paper is not available (and possibly not suitable anyway) to us but I was interested in the info so this is a summary of what I understood from the conversation when I asked how it was silconised:

    Their paper is 100% cellulose (corn? Ed: No not corn) ) and totally chemical free ( I heed your warning!) used for wrapping butter, grease and water resistant.
    I asked whether this kind of paper (if we found a safe one) might work if we used it with a light greasing of our own oil (still easier than washing pans!) but he didn’t know if it would work.

    For baking it is silconised on both sides, a light layer of food bakery approved silicon but he didn’t know what the silicon was derived from, although was very interested in my question! It is only sold in bulk over here to convertors who then wrap and sell on to trade bakers etc.

    Am looking into Ombar chocolate at the moment and waiting on a response on ‘lactic acid’ in the probiotic. Can copy you in if you’d be interested/haven’t already done it!

    • Thanks Karen, I am a bit confused there – so it is cellulose paper with a silicon layer on both sides, is that right? Cellulose is not normally corn but you need to ask what the source of it is just in case. Good sherlocking 😉

    • Thanks for the industrial education, Karen. It has been so long since chemistry class that I had to look up silicone in the Merck Chemical Index. It seems that it can be any of three classes of compound including dimethicone that they use in antacid/antigas formulas to Silly Putty! Now, folks have a problem knowing when I am being flippant, so I will say that I am being flippant to think that it might be just as easy to squeeze in a glob of sillyputty in the cupcake tins and be done with it. Seeing Silly Putty makes me rethink the whole concept of breast implants. Since the siloxanes can be attached to so many different copolymers it is imperative to find out just what the formula is. From the way some people have described the smell of the new-style bakeware it seems that someone simply got an idea to use silicone caulk as a mold. Regarding the term Lactic Acid, I had been confused for years due to associating it with Lactobacillus acidophilus. There are some informative pages at http://www.pickl-it.com that explain the formation of Lactic acid via Lactic Acid bacteria that are not necessarily Lactobacilli. I asked a probiotic supplement dealer what the source of their cellulose was and the single-word answer was: Trees. When you look it up it often comes from Larch. So, I am being flippant when I say that capsules are made from pinetree sawdust — or am I?

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