I’ve gotten one question so often that I decided it deserved its own post:
Is Silicone Safe for Baking?
Unfortunately, this is one of those questions that I usually answer by saying: It depends.
To understand that answer, it is important to understand several often-confused terms:
- Silicon– A natural chemical substance (atomic #14), meaning it can’t be divided into smaller particles without splitting atoms. It is the second most abundant element (after oxygen) and when it bonds with oxygen creates minerals called silicates (like quartz, olivine, micas, thomsonite, jadeite, and prehnite)
- Silica– A compound made of silicon and another element. It is present in the human body in high amounts and emerging research suggests it can be beneficial for health. I’ve mentioned it before when talking about diatomaceous earth and how I consume it in natural form, but it isn’t the same as silicon or silicone bakeware and isn’t relevant when talking about the safety of silicone.
- Silicone– A synthetic polymer created by adding carbon and/or oxygen to silicon. It can exist as a solid, liquid, or gel and is often used in medical devices like pacemakers, joint replacements, and implants. It is generally considered safe for these uses and is now used to make silicone bakeware.
When we are speaking about bakeware, we are referring to silicone, the synthetic polymer. It is considered “FDA approved as a food-safe substance” and is generally considered inert.
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much research on silicone bakeware or silicone molds so while there isn’t any evidence that it is harmful, there also isn’t much evidence that it is safe.
Testing on Silicone:
The testing that has been done on silicone is on medical-grade silicone without fillers or additives and at body or room temperature. These studies have shown that silicone is safe at these temperatures and long-term follow-up data support this.
Silicone’s safety at high temperatures has not been adequately tested and this is where the controversy emerges.
On paper, silicone bakeware is rated for temperatures below freezing and up to almost 450°F, so on paper it is safe.
Dangers of Silicone in Bakeware?
Again, any dangers are anecdotal at this point and not scientifically backed, but that doesn’t necessarily prove the safety of silicone. Some potential dangers include:
- The potential for leaching at high temperatures
- Fillers used in lower-quality silicone
- Potential odor during high-temperature use
These dangers are not proven and are reported only at high temperature use, but still worth investigating further.
Benefits of Silicone Bakeware
One major advantage of silicone bakeware is that it is considered more non-stick than many traditional types of bakeware, especially with muffin cups and bread pans.
Silicone bake mats and other silicone baking products are often easy to clean and prevent sticking when baking. The flexibility of silicone bakeware and molds makes it easy to get things out of them and makes cleanup easier.
Silicone is also dishwasher safe, petroleum free, and is not supposed to fade or scratch.
The Bottom Line
I hope that we will see updated research on the safety of silicone. Until we do, I feel comfortable using silicone at low temperatures and in the refrigerator or freezer, but try to avoid it in baking or high temperature use.
In any use, I consider silicone much safer than plastic, which I avoid at all costs. If you use silicone molds or bakeware, make sure it is high quality and doesn’t contain fillers or dangerous additives.
I stick to silicone molds for cool-temperature uses like:
These are the silicone molds I have:
- Silicone Bags (to replace plastic bags for fridge use)
- Lego bricks and people molds (great for homemade chocolate)
- Daisy Mini Molds (great for gummy vitamins)
- Mini Loaf Pans (great for soap bars)
- Muffin Cups (for lotion bars)
- Flower and Leaf Molds (for soap and lotion bars)
- Mini heart molds (for chocolate and gummy bears)
- Gingerbread Molds (for meltaways)
For now, I’m sticking to cool-temperature uses for silicone until we know more about its safety at high temperatures.
What is your take on silicone baking molds? How do you use it?