Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is Silicone Really Safe?

Yesterday Andrew and I almost poisoned ourselves trying to bake homemade flatbread pizza. Sound dramatic? It was.

I was SO hungry, I kinda demanded that he start helping with dough preparations the minute he walked through the door. Yoga previous to this hadn't chilled me out- nope made me MORE hungry. As I'm kneading the oily flatbread dough I keep thinking: this is gonna make an awesome blog post!

Then we realized we were out of parchment paper- an essential component.

It's ok though, I had bought Andrew a fancy silicone baking mat last Yulemas (as in 13 months ago) and we had never tried it. Perfect opportunity! The box said it was good up to 480F and the pizza was a 450F job. Good to go.

Within two minutes of baking Andrew looks at me: "Do you smell that?" We lean in towards the oven, he opens the door and a cloud of chemical filled smoke wafts up and outward. So bad that we both start coughing immediately and the fire alarm actually goes off. Note that our fire alarm is about 14 feet high and has NEVER gone off (even though we've burned plenty things while cooking).

The smell was so bad that both our eyes watered, I got dizzy and despite a fan and three open windows it took a full day for the chemical scent to disappear.

Ummm.... who said that silicone was food safe?? We ended up opening the oven to let the chemicals dissipate and we made nachos instead. They tasted a bit weird, but we were so hungry we pretended we didn't notice.

So is silicone really safe? Silicone is typically made up of polymers that include silicon (a chemical element found in sand and dust particles), carbon, hydrogen and oxygen it's a synthetic product. Although previous articles have deemed it Food Safe, recent articles are popping up revealing that the actual safety research is scanty at best (Ecoholic Home 2009 p.63, Ask Umbra December 2011). Umbra points out that experts are indicating that the compounds in silicone bioaccumulate and can present health hazards. Health Canada also doesn't recommend baking with silicone above 220 Celcius (428F) or it will start to melt. Ahhh- that explains the 450F issue.

Would you really like to be the living guinea pig for toxins leaching into your food at high heat? Pas moi, especially after smelling that nasty disgusting-ness first hand.

Parchment paper: Unfortunately, many parchment papers are coated with silicone as well. Including If You Care's "environmentally friendly" version. Ugh.

Spray Greasing Agent (like Pam): Anything that has an exploding symbol on the can (and that comes in a can) isn't on my list of top uses. Typically cooking spray has oil and a propellant such as alcohol, nitrous oxide, propane or carbon dioxide (wtf?).

As I've never been a fan of silicone muffin or bread moulds or oven mitts anyway, I don't think we're going to miss silicone in our lives. We generally use butter or olive oil to grease everything (mmm). As for the flatbread pizza, I guess we'll just have to see what happens if we place it directly on the pizza stone or a buttered pan.

article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Not You Care's parchment paper?!?!? No!!!!

  2. I sometimes make cookies on my mom's silicone cookie sheets at her house, but I SWEAR, the cookies taste like silicone! :( I don't use it at my own house.

    What about a sprinkle of corn meal for keeping pizza dough from sticking...? Sometimes that works for me.

  3. @Green Bean: I KNOW!!!!!!! :(

    @Five Seed: sadly this flatbread recipe is REALLY oily and gooey- so corn meal would just absorb into the dough. But hopefully butter or just the pizza stone could work.... :S

  4. I've seen those silicone baking forms for cupcakes and such. I wondered if they were safe. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. I just gasped so hard I sucked all the oxygen out of the room. I guess the last Silpat is going to have to find it's way out of my home. Ergh. Boy. In my attempts to rid our home of toxic products, I am finding that often I'm frustrated.

    I use our pizza stone for everything in the oven anymore. I'd give it a shot with your flatbread!

  6. we use cornmeal on our pizza stone. that will probably help for your flat breads!

  7. My pizza stone, bare naked, works extremely well for baking pizza. There's ghee in my dough recipe and I just throw a little flour down on the stone and roll the dough out on the counter to avoid pressing it onto the stone.

  8. @Greener Cleaning Mom: you're welcome! I know people still use silicone for muffins and such since the heat isn't as high...

    @Laura: I hear ya... :( Although- my issue is the lack of research. Perhaps once there's more research it will show that it is safe...?

    @JenP: our flatbread recipe is too oily- it will absorb the cornmeal. But the pizza stone "naked" might work

    @JessicaP- i'm hoping the ridiculous amount of olive oil in this recipe will help out!

  9. I guess it is time to get rid of my silicone bakeware! They were a gift and thought to myself...if they can use them in medicine then it should be okay to use for everyday life...back to researching everything to death! Thanks for the info!

    Next time you make your pizza use a little corn meal on the pizza stone and you should be good to go! Even without cornmeal the stone works beautifully because of the oils in the dough it should not stick. I heat my stone first, transfer the dough when it is warm and throw on the toppings before the stone has a chance to cool.

  10. @Alli: ahh, don't get rid of them. I think it's important to recognize that we decided not to because of the lack of research. But then- like i commented earlier- this may change as more research comes out.

    I should have taken a picture of the "dough"- it's more like oily mush. Cornmeal really won't work... lol

  11. Ah, this is a struggle for me, too. I *hate* cleaning the oven, leaning in there at the worst possible angle to scrub-a-dub away at baked-on drips and splashes which dared to defy our preventive measures. That makes me look longingly at those oven-bottom liners, which would make cleanup a simple swipe with a wipe. And then, I think about how the liners are so, so close to the heating element, and possibly exhuming who-knows-what onto our baked goodies. But, oh, how a solution for a clean oven tempts me!

  12. I knew those silicone things weren't safe - I thought I did my research, I avoided for so long, but recently purchased a few silicone items - thankfully I've only used them for lower heat and for freezer (chocolates). But still, and ya on the You Care's parchment too - bake to baking stones only for me.


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