Silicone bakeware is a popular solution for all sorts of baking needs, ranging from pan liners to muffin cups, from bundt pans to novelty cake pans. Silicone bakeware is durable, non-stick, brightly colored and quite flexible. Is it safe, though? This is a question on many consumer's minds, ranging from professional bakers to the occasional home cook. Take a look at the information and make your own decisions about which forms of bakeware best suit your needs and whether you want to use silicone bakeware in your own kitchen.
Silicone bakeware is made of a silicone rubber created from a mixture of bonded silicone and oxygen. Heat is applied to set the silicone into shape during the manufacturing process and the curing process. Silicone rubber may also be injection molded into various shapes during production.
A wide variety of silicone products are available for the kitchen. Potholders, spatulas, whisks and other utensils have become commonplace. You will also find silicone ice cube trays, rolling pins and all sorts of baking pans. Silicone baking pan liners provide a non-stick surface for baking sheets and jelly roll pans, offering quick and easy cleanup.
Silicone bakeware is tolerant of both heat and cold, and can be used in the oven at temperatures up to 428 degrees Fahrenheit. It can go directly from the oven to the freezer, is microwave safe, and easy to clean. While silicone bakeware is marketed as non-stick, greasing your bakeware is still a good idea to avoid any risk of sticking.
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Silicone rubber is inert. It does not emit fumes of any sort, leach into food, or pose any health risks according to the FDA. Experts consider it non-reactive and a good choice when looking for low-risk cookware. If you are concerned about the possibilities of long term use of silicone bakeware, consider confining your use to spatulas, trivets and other items that are not exposed to heat on a consistent basis. If you do use silicone pans, you should also keep in mind that they should be placed on a firm surface, like a cookie sheet, when baking. Lifting a flexible pan from the oven can leave you with burns and a cake on the floor rather than your table.
Many people have reported odors when baking with silicone bakeware. It appears that these odors are connected to fillers in the final product, rather than the silicone itself. Keep in mind that silicone cookware has become quite popular and low quality items are available. Examine pieces closely. If you see white when you twist a baking pan, fillers have been used. While there is no evidence that risks are posed by poor quality silicone cookware, offensive burning smells when baking are enough to make any baker want to avoid these items. Look for well made silicone pieces by reputable manufacturers.
With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.