Silicone Baking Pans-Safe or Not?

A week or so ago I did a post on the silicone cupcake liners which I love. Someone commented that they did not feel that the silicone was a safe thing to use as it had chemicals that could leach into the food, etc.

This concerned me, because anyone will tell you, I am an eco-freak. Actually, I am an eco-freak from long lines of eco freaks, my ancestors were all pretty much farmers and were into organics way before it was cool. But I digress.

I n my eco- freakiness I decided to do some research to see what I could find out. After all, my readers support me! If I am going to recommend something to you I don’t want it to be something that will kill you off. Here is what I found out. From Debra Lynn Dadd: I tried to find some information on the health effects of silicone rubber, but it was not listed in any of the toxic chemical databases I use.

I went to the Dow Corning website (who makes over 700 different silicone rubbers) and looked at a random sample of their MSDSs. The ones I read listed no hazardous materials or health effects, or needed first aid measures. All descriptions I read of silicone rubber describe it as chemically inert and stable, so it is unlikely to react with or leach into food, nor outgas vapors. MSDSs also note that silicone is not toxic to aquatic or soil organisms, it is not hazardous waste, and while it is not biodegradable, it can be recycled after a lifetime of use.

Some years back there was a question about the safety of silicone used in breast implants. Whether or not the health problems experienced by some women with breast implants were associated with the implants has been very controversial. I found an article from the year 2000 on a leading website on breast cancer and related women’s issues that states “A large study conducted by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) finds no correlation between silicone-filled breast implants and breast cancer risk.”

The prolonged inhalation of crystalline silica dust is associated with silicosis, but there is no silica dust exposure from the use of silicone kitchenware.
O.k…That sounds good!
I read through the description of it on free patents online and saw nothing that would indicate a health risk.
Basically everything I did read, and there was not a lot specifically dealing with this, maintained that all chemicals were inert and did not pose health risks.
I read a ton of bloggers that loved using them, found out that they are not always perfectly nonstick, and that sometimes the bake time can be longer ..Other than that, go for it!
I try to keep in mind that we live lives in a precarious balance. Is it better to use plastic bags that never biodegrade? Paper than use up valuable resources? Canvas that you have to research to make sure they were not made by children in foreign sweatshops? Living is very complicated these days if you give any thought to it. Sometimes we have to research a subject, admit that the research may be flawed, and follow our conscience in the matter.
I prefer to use reusable items. These are. I prefer not to use bleached and dyed paper. These are not. I love the ease with which they clean up, the fact that I always have them available and the fact that after using them for a month or so I have recouped my investment. For me these are a good thing and a product I will continue to use.
I hope this information is helpful to you. :)

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    • http://shopaholicsdaily.com SP @ Shopaholics Daily

      Wow, you certainly did a lot of digging and I for one want to thank you. I had been wondering about all of those issues too.

    • Krisi

      Thanks for the information. I love my mini cupcake pans and regular cupcake pans. Nothing has a liner which is perfect since most of the time I freeze the finished product and the paper liners are a pain to get off once frozen.

    • Gigi

      I was trying to find out if it was safe AFTER it is heated up under extreme temperature? You see when I used them it gave off a toxic plastic smell. I returned them to the store. I don’t like to use Aluminum (too much aluminum to go into blood stream) (by the way check out your deodorant — makes you wonder about breast cancer. I have since then started using a crystal sold in deod. section and my whole family uses it and it is great!) or using teflon. I started using parchment paper on cookie sheets with great success. Now for muffin tins!

    • Judy Watson

      Thanks for looking into that. I actually came across the same web site (Debra Lynn Dadd) when doing a search for the same reasons. Further down that site, after the bit you quote, there was another comment that went like this:
      The safety of Silicone Rubber cookware has not in my mind been proven. I am an engineer that uses silicone rubber to make parts cast from silicone rubber compounds and the material’s flexibility is in part do to the silicone oil present in the material’s structure. The oily nature of the silicone rubber’s surface testifies to the oils presence. It can be washed off only with very strong detergents, but continues to leach out to the surface over time with use. This is the same silicone oil that has been determined to be dangerous when used in silicone breast implants. I can’t help but wonder and worry about the long term effects of trace amounts of silicone oil mixing with the foods one bakes or cooks in this bake ware.
      POSTED BY ERICC :: CA USA :: 06/04/2007 3:54 PM

      Another post further down mentions lingering odours after using a silicone mat to bake fish. The concern for this particular user was the fact that her daughter was allergic to fish, and she wondered if the fish had permanently affected the mat and might get into the food cooked for the daughter on the same mat. This is a more obscure concern than the questions of carcinogenic dangers, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

      I generally think, if in doubt, there are bound to be other options available that are less risky, and more natural, especially when you are feeding children.

      Cheers and happy cooking

    • http://www.liamichel.com SuperLeah

      Hi, I bought silicone muffin tins from a reputable discount store, and used them twice and then threw them away. When heated, they gave off a really nasty plastic-y smell, and it made me too nervous to eat the muffins. So now I’m wondering if it’s just that I bought cheap ones (but they were name brand!), or if I should just stick with the tried-and-true metal tins, rather than being my generation’s lab rat with the silicone.

    • Marye

      I have the wilton ones and they have been fabulous. I Don;t know about the less expensive ones. :)

    • Marie

      Thank you Judy Watson!! Confirms what I instinctively was afraid of with this type of bakeware. And SuperLeah: I don’t want to be ‘my generation’s lab rat’ either – well put!! So, no I won’t be using this stuff!

    • Marie

      I don’t know, but I keep thinking about ‘The Graduate’: the future, Benjamin, plastics…

    • http://www.bakingdelights.com/2007/09/24/silicone-baking-pans-safe-or-not/ Auntie M

      I just purchased a Kitchen Aid Silicone mini muffin pan but I have not used it yet. I guess I will heat the oven to 400′F and see if it smells. The general rule is “if it smells, it is leaching”. I use http://www.ewg.org for help with enviro questions.
      I use to use parchment paper until I found out that it is coated with teflon as well as paper plates.

    • Calamity

      to Gigi –

      Isn’t parchment paper silicone coated? At least when I looked it up on Wikipedia it said it was. Maybe there are other kinds. Anyway, just a thought…

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    • http://www.eksommer.com EK Sommer

      Some of the so-called “silicone” bakeware (the cheaper ones naturally) are not 100% silicone and so the odor people are smelling when they bake in it is probably PLASTIC, which is used a filler!

      You did a lot of research and so did Debra Ladd, but I do not think that materials published by manufacturers or their associations or even the MSDS reports, which are not often verified by independent sources, are accurate places to get unbiased facts about the dangers of products.

      I agree with the posters who indicate that the jury is not yet in on the safety of silicone products, and I for one will not expose myself or my family to foods heated to high temperatures in materials of questionable construction.

      • Hapee

        This is of course a good point. Some companies may market bad quality products. One cannot damn the entire genre for that though.

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    • http://theluureview.blogpot.com Lucy P.

      I guess when in doubt stick with stainless steel or teflon. As long as it doesn’t chip it should be fine.

      • Kou

        “I guess when in doubt stick with stainless steel or teflon.” No, when in doubt, don’t ever use teflon. It offgasses fumes that are toxic to birds (as in your bird died from its lungs liquefying and there’s nothing you can do to save it) and it’s bad for humans as well.

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    • http://www.christinasng.com Christina

      Thank you! I Googled about the toxicity of silicone and found your blog. I know it is not quite relevant but I was looking to find out about the toxicity of the silicone cases used for iPhones and am relieved they are not.

    • Jianne Webb

      If silicone doesn’t offgas, why did my smoke detector (upstairs) go off the first (and last) time I baked with my new silcone muffin cups? I set the temperature 25 degrees below the prescribed limit (400). I bought them via mail order, so they just may have been of inferior quality, but I won’t give them a second chance.

      • Hapee

        This woman probably had remnants of food within the oven which burned and smoked, causing the problem. That would be my guess.

    • Simone White

      The lack of information about silicone does not assuage my doubts. I want proof, I want research. It is very dubious to me that a soft slippery material does not off-gas or leach, especially at high temperatures. And for those who say use teflon, that’s certainly been documented to be toxic and an accumulator in the body. Owners of parrots are told to never use teflon, either in bake-ware or from teflon coated irons, as the high heated teflon creates a toxic gas. Do you want to breathe a gas that is toxic to birds?

      • Kyfer

        Arguing something with “Do you want to breathe a gas that is toxic to birds?” is the most ridiculous statement ever. Avocados are also toxic for birds, does this mean you won’t eat those? There is nothing saying that just because a gas is created that it will be toxic to humans, or be created in enough quantity to have an effect on your body.

      • Hapee

        I have to agree here. People rant about the most minute potentialities, then get in their cars and drive behind a bunch of other cars, inhaling far more noxious fumes and gunk than they would get in a lifetime of exposure from anything in their kitchens. Yes, teflon is harmful to birds; so is frying something in plain old vegetable oil. Birds don’t belong in the kitchen! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.

      • ken

        I disagree. The first woman’s point is valid. Birds and humans evolved from common ancestors that had already evolved lungs. Hence, our lungs are similar to those of birds in many respects. Why do coal miners use canaries to test air safety? Because they are more sensitive to contaminants THAT ARE ALSO DANGEROUS TO PEOPLE, Birds are an early warning system. It is stupid to assume parrots have something unique and different from human biology that makes ONLY them susceptible to silicone or teflon fumes. More likely, they are simply MORE susceptible.

      • LindainCO

        I agree, also. I have 6 parrots, and a chemically-laden product
        that is dangerous for them, I consider also dangerous for my family.
        Very well-said, Ken.
        I prefer cookware that is long-tested and known to be safe, such as stainless steel or glass.
        And personally, when we worked where we are in our vehicle
        and were in a congested area, we switched our air intake to recycle and filter. I am sensitive to exhaust fumes.
        Luckily, in Coloraod, we don’t have grid-lock as much as some others.

    • cook

      I have just finished baking some muffins using silicone rubber muffin tray. The muffins that I baked got very strong plastic smell, yet, I ate one of the muffin and I am feeling very uncomfortable now.. hence I google to search for more information about this silicone rubber..
      the silicone rubber muffin tray is from London, is a souvenir from my friend who visited London last week! I did not keep the packaging..or else I will search the manufacturer…

      That’s bad… :(

    • Marc Johnson

      High probability that these are causing parrot deaths in homes… If so, it may not be toxic to you but who knows… I would never use anything I was not 99.9% sure of, this scares me and has killed at least two birds that I know of.

      • Hapee

        How do you know it was the silicone that killed these birds? I don’t mean to be harsh, but honestly, how could one be sure? Birds are extremely sensitive creatures and it could have been many things, including all kinds of ailments that were not easily detected. I grew up doing wildlife rescue and in addition have kept many, many birds. They are creatures that hide illness well, as a survival mechanism. It is important to keep them away from fumes, and no idiot would keep a bird in the kitchen for numerous reasons; but if the bird wasn’t in the kitchen, truly I find it impossible to believe that fumes from a silicone baking pan could kill it. It’s strange that this poor person’s blog post has attracted a lot of irrational commentary over time. It is important to evaluate things logically so one can be sure when there really is a danger.

    • LOUISE

      I have th silicone pan or 2 I’m afraid to use them in the oven do I put them on a baking pan or right on the oven rack

    • LOUISE faughn

      do I need to put the silicone pan on a baking sheet or right on the oven rack its self

    • LOUISE faughn

      baking with silicone bakinfg pans do I put them on a baking sheet or right on the oven rack its self

    • tammy

      According to Health Canada website (government) silicone is safe for baking, They do recommend that you do not bake at temperatures of higher than 428 degrees as this can cause melting. Perhaps the source of the odor? Food grade silicone is made by bonding silicon and oxygen, both natural sources even though this is a synthetic rubber.

    • marcus
    • Maxi

      There is absolutely nothing here that shows me the silicone products are safe. The fact that everyone “thinks” it’s safe, does not convince me. Owens Corning, Dr. Weill, and anyone else who have leftist tendencies don’t convince me as the left is into depopulation from Marxist propaganda. The original head of Greenpeace had to quit because of the people who came into the organization. While Greenpeace wanted to truly save the environment, wanted a green world and believed in goodness through and though, the left has taken over the movement to destroy our environment, destroy our freedom and way of life and depopulate in the name of greediness and evil. As for the safety of Silicone, I came to search the Internet because my patented-chemist friend saw the box of silicone parchment paper I was using and became concerned. We cannot be too careful in this world. 98% of the food we’re eating is laced heavily with Round-Up and Pesticides starting from the soil, going into the seed and then on the plants itself. Since weeds now have a resistance to it, they have been upping the dosage of poisons. With Monsanto at the helm and the FDA not really testing foods and not filing safety reports, we are definitely not safe. Monsanto with Rockefeller is at the forefront of depopulation and food control. They say, “Control the food, control the world.” Look it up. GMO food. The same is true for hormone injected meat. Flouride is an ingredient Hitler used to control their prisoners. It rots the teeth rather than prevent cavities. It is now in most of the water supply. It’s main purpose is to sterilize the population, cause cancer and dummify the mind. Aspertame has 92 poisons in it with the main ingredient being rat poop. The planes flying overhead with chem trails contain more chemicals to destroy our food supply, our air quality and the population. Then there’s our hi-def TV’s and lightbulbs. The strobing light is to control the minds of people, bodies of people any which way possible–and death is a possibility with them. That is why there’s a Bill in Congress to get rid of the bill making those headache creating, mercury-filled lightbulbs mandatory. If you drop one of the lightbulbs, open all your windows, leave the house for 3 days and call a hazmet team. (this is no exaggeration). The more people wake up to the fact that those on the left are not evil racist facists, but rather trying to save the world of a fate of tyranny, death and destruction the better. So do I trust the silicone even though I bought it through an organic, natural product supplier? You bet I don’t.

      • Hapee

        Sorry but the people running Greenpeace were known to me and my family, and they only did it as a profit making venture. This is actually true of many “nonprofit” organizations. They surely had many sincerely dedicated people in the organization; but the ones who created it and were at the top were not, sadly. One needs to really be sure about these things before deciding to donate or support certain organizations!

    • Maxi

      I meant those on the right are not evil, racist facists.

    • FaithfulServant

      Silicone is not safe! Take a look at the TMJ Implant Disaster, the penile implant, the warnings on silastic(silicone) reactions. Many are allergic to silicone and metal debris caused by failed implants. If we continue to let Medical Companies and Manufacturers the right to decieve us then we all become fools to evil, with no rights for the patient.
      With Flawed Research, kickbacks, and no accountability why bother to regulate at all! We pay for research, higher medical costs because of poor doctors, manufacturers and drug companies getting away with murder, and many from the FDA who contienue to let these abuses continue and government wants to handle our medical insurance? No thank you…and what catagory do TMJ Implant survivors fit into? No one wants to claim us! We can only be truly informed if we have honest and truthful research so we can make a wise decision, after all we are the end consumer!
      Love Never Fails….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nQy-aP_Koo

    • Hapee

      HI I know this is an old post but I wanted to add a bit. I worked on the Dow-Corning breast implant case. I was in charge of compiling the entire life and medical histories of over 300 women who had silicone breast implants. So I became intimately involved in what happened, and how. The main problem, in my opinion, occurred because the women’s physicians were advising them to aggressively massage the implants to break up any scar tissue development. Oftentimes during their medical exams, the doctors themselves would do this, complaining that the women hadn’t been doing it hard enough (and it was extremely painful apparently when this was done). This “massage” would cause the implants to rupture, and the jelly-like silicone could then spread in the chest cavity. This wasn’t the firm kind of silicone that one sees in bakeware. The silicone itself wasn’t necessarily toxic; but of course the body reacted as this foreign matter began to spread about. That is what caused the problems. It was horrific.

      In any event, all evidence for a long time continues to support the likelihood that silicone is indeed an inert substance. Another verification of this can be seen in the design of pet fish aquariums and fish farming etc., which makes a lot of use of silicone products for sealing and similar needs. Fish are extremely sensitive creatures, and especially in a small, closed environment like an aquarium, if silicone was not inert, it would be harming the fish and people would have picked up on this decades ago. So I do think it is probable that silicone bakeware is perfectly safe. Any little bit that you might ingest (if any at all) would be minute and pass right through you.

    • JERRY

      MORE SILICONE BAKING PAN http://WWW.HSSILICONE.COM

    • Laetitia Visagie

      For many years, tobacco companies told us that smoking is safe …. I would not trust the manufacturer’s word on the safety of silicon bakeware. I live in South Africa where we get a lot of imports from China. My biggest concern is that the Chinese product may contain other chemicals, therefore I will not buy it.

    • j o meadows

      Maybe the silicone rubber in baking cups is safe, maybe not. The big deal here is the chemicals in the colorant which makes the beautiful colors possible. I challenge you to find ANY FDA APPROVAL of the finished product (silicone rubber baking cup with chemical colorants)! Bottom line, use at your own (health) risk.

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    • Michelena

      Lucy P – when in doubt, I would stick with stainless steel, but never with Teflon!! Another poster referred to the Environmental Working Group website (www.ewg.org), and they are very firmly against the use of anything Teflon related. They have worked hard with the FDA or the EPA or some gov’t organization in getting the inventors of Teflon (DuPont) to agree to phase out Teflon entirely by 2015 – originally they had agreed to 2010, but Dupont pushed back too hard, so they gave them an extension – can’t fight the chemical companies too hard =(. Their independednt tests have shown that it releases toxic gasses when heated to much lower temperatures than had been previously reported – i.e. in normal kitchen use. Again, they strongly discourage its use whatsoever, or to be especially sure to use it only at lower temperatures. Just some food for thought!! Happy holidays~!

    • Marye Audet

      Jianne, no clue. I have used mine for years with excellent results.