Plastics are getting a bad rep these days. We recently heard that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the world's oceans than fish, and although some states in the US - and other countries - are banning the use of single-use plastics it seems the environment has reached a breaking point. And then there is the effect that plastics have on us. Research has shown that plastics previously deemed safe for food and beverage storage may be harmful to our health. If you walk into the grocery store chances are you will find more and more storage containers, kitchen utensils, even some appliances that are made from silicone. But what is silicone really, and why is it becoming so popular?
Silicone belongs in the synthetic rubber family with its most important component being silicon dioxide, also known as sand, the most common and abundant natural material on Earth. HealthLine writes "when you sit on a beach, it’s silicon dioxide in the form of sand that gets between your toes. It’s even found naturally in the tissues of your body, though it’s unclear whether it serves any physiological role." Why is this important? Because silicone is not a carbon-based plastic like many of the plastics we use in our day-to-day lives, and this is what lends it the amazing qualities that make it a much healthier and eco-friendly alternative to common plastics.
Carbon-based plastics such as PP (bottles and caps), HDPE (milk jugs), LDPE (plastic wraps) are made from the byproducts of petroleum (oil) and therefore are sensitive to heat. When they reach a certain temperature, in the case of PE (Polyethylene) this temperature is only 176 °F, they simply melt and start breaking down. This is why storing boiling hot tea in a plastic bottle is not such a good idea. Silicone scores points here because it is carbon-free, therefore, it has a much higher resistance to heat, in most cases up to 450 °F. Now you know why those muffin molds are made out of silicone.
Let's move away from the oven for a bit, and look at another source of heat: the Sun. Apart from being our primary source of light and warmth, the sun also emits a great deal of radiation in the form of UV rays. UV rays are extremely damaging not just to human tissue (don't forget the sun block), but also to plastics. When you leave your plastic water bottle on the beach or in the car on a hot summer day, with time, the Sun's UV rays will start breaking it down and cause it to leech chemicals into your beverages. Silicone comes to the rescue again. Industries such as construction, especially roofing, prefers silicone in various applications due to its "weatherability" including its resistance to UV radiation.
Finally a more hands-on example: cleaning a water bottle. Everybody knows what a pain it can be to get rid of mold and stubborn residue from the intricate parts of some flip-top caps, spouts, straws, and threads. Where even the dishwasher can't help you need some serious cleaning power! Or maybe not. Silicone is naturally fungus resistant, or to put it more scientifically, it is a poor growth medium for mold and fungus in warm, damp environments. So next time you reach for bottled water, think about how products that use a more Earth-friendly and healthier alternative such as silicone could work for you. For more great tips on cleaning your favorite water bottle, check out 3 Tips To Keep Your Favorite Water Bottle Odor-Free (And Fall In Love With It Again).
Thanks for checking in. We recently launched the world’s first plastic-free and truly glass water bottle made from only two materials: silicone and glass. Our bottles provide a great alternative to those who are trying to move away from plastics and plastic chemicals. Check out our featured bottles below.