As global warming becomes more of a concern and ordinary people feel empowered to make changes in their personal lives to help the planet, it is natural that “green” products have become commonplace in all areas of our lives. Baking is no exception to this revolutionary trend, and one of the ways environmentally conscious home and professional bakers innovated their craft is through the use of silicone bakeware. More precisely, silicone baking mats are slowly becoming more and more common, substituting aluminum foil, parchment papers, and plastic wraps to help reduce waste.
But are these silicone mats safe to use?
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What are Silicone Mats Made of?
Silicon is a common natural element that can be found in the earth’s crust. The silicone (note the different spelling) used in these new products is a synthetic material created by bonding silicon and oxygen under great heat. The result is an FDA approved substance that has low toxicity levels, low thermal conductivity, thermal stability, and a non-sticky surface.
Some silicone baking mats also have amounts of fiberglass and other materials in them. So when in doubt, it is better to always check the manufacturing information on the products you’re buying to ensure that it is of high-quality and to see what important properties they might have that will affect your baking process and your baked goods.
Are Silicone Mats Safe?
Well, this is a bit of a tough question to answer with complete clarity.
The good news is that, as far as we know, silicone appears to be perfectly safe for baking. It is FDA approved and it is known for not giving off any chemical fumes that might contaminate your food.
The not-so-good news is that because silicone mats are a relatively new product, there have been no substantial studies done on the long-term effects of silicone and baking. What that means is that though right now there are appears to be no danger whatsoever to using silicone mats, it could be that in a few years a new study will prove this assertion wrong.
What Else Should I Know Before Buying Silcione Bakeware Products?
As mentioned above, some silicone baking mats might have fiberglass and other materials in its composition. This means that though these products are still incredibly resistant to extreme temperature changes, being able to go from -40°C to +300°C (-40°F to 446°F), there are still some precautions you should take.
For starters, always check the manufacturing information of the products you plan to use with food. Some lower-quality silicone bakeware have been known to give off strange smells, though there are appears to be no actual toxicity to these fumes.
If the baking mat you purchased has some fiberglass in it, do not use it as a cutting board, least you want some fiberglass in your food.
Finally, though advertised as incredibly flexible and non-sticky, 3D silicone bakeware products – such as those used for muffins, cakes, or breads – are not exactly known for living up to that promise. For those, you might be better off just using a regular metal tin. This “non-sticky-but-actually-sticky” feature is not a problem with silicone baking mats, however, and using them can truly help you reduce your usage of aluminum foil, parchment paper, and plastic wraps.
Conclusion: What Should You Remember About Silicone Baking Mats?
Green Baking has become incredibly popular as more and more people discover not only the joys of creating delicious cakes, pastries, and cookies, but also become more passionate in their desire to protect and preserve our planet through the reduction of waste. The natural result of the rise in these two inclinations is the rise in silicone bakeware products, including silicone baking mats.
It is important to always ensure that the product you’re buying is of high quality. Many manufactures include other materials in their silicone products that might affect how you can use them. Make sure to do your research, read reviews, and ensure that you are spending your money wisely.
As there have been no long-term studies regarding the safety of these products, it could be that in a few years we learn of some new information that will make us give them up. But the truth is that for now, they appear to be a great green alternative for home and professional bakers all over the world.