Why Use Silicone Instead of Plastic?
Silicone is very popular and is marketed as a safe replacement for traditional plastic. You can find it in various items including baby bottle nipples, baking sheets, utensils, food containers, toys, and seals on bottles and containers. But how do silicone and plastic differ?
Silicone is a hybrid between synthetic rubber and synthetic polymers. It can be used to make malleable rubber-like items, hard resins, and thick spreadable fluids. It can be shaped, formed, softened or hardened into practically anything because of its flexibility, pliability, clarity, temperature and water resistance. It has a lower reactivity with chemicals and is more durable and temperature resistant than most plastics.
Silicone is a man-made polymer with a silicon and oxygen backbone with hydrocarbons on the side instead of a hydrogen and carbon backbone like plastic. So, how does this happen? Silica is the raw material used to make silicone resins and is beach sand or quartz. Silicon is the base element for silica but isn’t found in nature in its elemental form. It is made by heating silica at very high temperatures with carbon in a furnace. Then the silicon is reacted with fossil fuel to create siloxane monomers that are bonded together into polymers to form the silicone resin. The level of purification determines the quality of these silicones.
Why use silicone instead of plastic?
- Silicone is safer for human health than plastic. Plastics are petroleum-based products with added chemicals that can be harmful to humans.
- Silicone lasts longer without melting, cracking or degrading. Plastic containers should be replaced after a year or two.
- Silicone containers resist normal aging from exposure to extreme heat and cold, sterilization, sun, and harsh chemicals.
- Silicone converts back to amorphous silica, carbon dioxide and water vapor when disposed of at a landfill for incineration which are harmless and inorganic. Plastic breaks down into micro fragments which contaminate our lands and oceans as well as the animals living there.
Silicone is safer, lasts longer and is more environmentally friendly than plastic.