IS SILICONE A PLASTIC?
Good question. Here are some others... Is it a rubber? Is it natural? Is it synthetic? What the heck is it?
And most importantly: Is it safe?
Description and Typical Use:
What is silicone?
Technically, silicone is considered part of the rubber family. But, if you define plastics widely, as we do, silicone is something of a hybrid between a synthetic rubber and a synthetic plastic polymer. Silicone can be used to make malleable rubber-like items, hard resins, and spreadable fluids.
We treat silicone as a plastic like any other, given that it has many plastic-like properties: flexibility, malleability, clarity, temperature resistance, water resistance.
Like plastic, it can be shaped or formed and softened or hardened into practically anything. But it is a unique plastic because it is much more temperature resistant and durable than most plastics and has a low reactivity with chemicals. And while water resistant, it is also highly gas permeable, making it useful for medical or industrial applications where air flow is required. It's also easy-to-clean, non-stick, and non-staining, making it popular for cookware and kitchen utensils.
Thus, while most plastics have a polymer backbone of hydrogen and carbon, silicones have a backbone made of silicon and oxygen, and hydrocarbon side groups - all of which gives them plastic-like characteristics.
Silicone is often used for baby nipples, cookware, bakeware, utensils, and toys. Silicones are also used for insulation, sealants, adhesives, lubricants, gaskets, filters, medical applications (e.g., tubing), casing for electrical components.