Silicone is becoming increasingly popular in the creation of new products. Have you noticed its presence in many aspects of our lives?
SILICONE IN THE KITCHEN
It's a more durable material than most plastics, able to withstand significant temperature variations without cracking. Silicone is inert, meaning it generally does not release harmful particles into our food.
However, it's essential to be cautious because low-quality silicones can be harmful when heated. Quality silicone contains a catalyst (platinum or peroxide) to prevent polymer particles from getting into food.
Choosing reputable brands, silicone seems to be the best solution for many kitchen applications. Consider the silicone items you have—it's like a revolution in our kitchens.
But is it really "perfect" for all applications?
Personally, I like my silicone pastry brush with "bristles." It's much easier to clean than brushes with real bristles.
I also love my silicone muffin molds. Muffins come out so easily because they're SOFT. The same goes for all molds! I have heart-shaped ones I use to freeze portions of date puree or vegetable broth. Being super malleable, you can push the frozen block to release it easily.
On the other side, I don't like the silicone baking sheet; it got stained and even tore over time (I prefer the reusable parchment sheet with a metallic look for everything!).
And I really dislike silicone storage bags. I have a large one, but besides not doing a great job at preserving, it's challenging to clean with its folds (I can't even imagine the small ones)! And, in the end, it's quite expensive! Waterproof fabric bags, in this case, are ultimately easier to use in my opinion and offer the same level of preservation (there's nothing magical, except perhaps for Intelli-fresh).
SILICONE IN THE PLAYROOM
Silicone is commonly seen in baby teething products. It doesn't easily break into small crumbs, making it a durable and fun teething toy.
I haven't seen many silicone toys for children yet. Wooden toys are currently in fashion (and that's a good thing)! Perhaps silicone will take over our playrooms soon, given everyone's interest in the material? I hope not.
SILICONE IN OUR POCKETS
Another common use is as a phone case. It provides some protection and allows us to have a phone that truly reflects our personality.
However, it remains a decorative item that can be of poor quality, made in China for a few cents, because we don't need its incredible environmental virtues, especially concerning temperature changes.
Yes, you can choose a more eco-friendly option, but then you need to research the origin and ethics of the company manufacturing it. Also, be cautious of electronic shops selling "Made in China" items at much higher prices.
SILICONE IN MAKEUP
Silicone is used as a base in various cosmetic products, such as lipstick (to extend its wear), liquid foundation (to improve spreadability, silky appearance, and skin comfort), or pencils (to increase water resistance).
They are also popular in liquid shampoos to repair or revitalize hair, similar to the rotating beads seen in ads that solidify broken hair up close.
Although silicone is not (yet) recognized as dangerous, it remains a synthetic additive, and Health Canada closely monitors its use in products.
Environmental damage is more significant. In the context of cosmetics, they are not trapped and inert as in kitchen products. They end up in our oceans, are not biodegradable, and take half a century to disappear.
For reference, organic products prohibit them. But not all natural products have the organic label. So, if you want to avoid them, look for ingredients ending in -cone, -conol, -silane, or -siloxane; these are silicones.
SILICONE IN HYGIENE PRODUCTS
I immediately think of menstrual cups! Silicone has revolutionized the use of tampons, which were problematic for waste creation and women's health. Silicone is less irritating, doesn't disrupt our precious vaginal flora, and carries a lower risk of toxic shock syndrome (though not entirely risk-free; it reduces the risk but doesn't prevent it automatically).
In this case, we're talking about medical-grade silicone; high-quality silicone. Again, please buy from globally distributed brands, not from Wish or Amazon to get them cheaply. It's still about your health! And it's not very expensive for the money you'll save in the long run!
I also think of silicone in the context of ear hygiene! Have you tried silicone ear cleaners? I haven't, but I feel it might not be better than cotton swabs, and then, is it better than wood?
(I didn't mention silicone used for sealing joints or breast implants — I won't go there. And I probably forgot many applications, perhaps more niche, where silicone is very useful.)
In short, silicone has replaced several materials over time. Is it for the better? Honestly, I don't know. We could ask: What is the environmental impact of producing silicone? Is it better to produce silicone than the material it replaces? Diversifying seems to be a better option. It reduces intensive production for the same material. But perhaps it is genuinely better than plastic?
Personally, it has changed how I bake muffins and handle menstruation. In my opinion, it's interesting for many reusable objects, as long as the material is of high quality, and the item is reused for a very, very long time.
After all, there are other items that benefit from the trend but may not necessarily be so "well thought out".