What is SILICONE?
Not to be confused with the chemical element silicon.
“Silicone” is a more colloquial, “Polymerized Siloxane” the chemical term for a group of synthetic polymers built by repeating units of siloxane; their chemical bonding is arranged as a chain of alternating silicon and oxygen atoms, the inorganic silicon-oxygen backbone chain (⋯–Si–O–Si–O–Si–O–⋯). Since silicon atoms are tetravalent, they may combine with organic side groups, preferably compounds of carbon and hydrogen, such as alkyl groups, phenyl groups, vinyl groups.
Unsurprisingly, these side groups are determining material properties of the polymer and organic side groups are used to link two or more of these –Si–O– backbones together. Varying –Si–O–chain length, side group, and cross-linker, different silicones can be synthesized with a wide variety of properties and compositions with varying consistency from liquid to gel to rubber to hard plastic.
The most common siloxane is linear polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a silicone oil.
What is SILICON?
Not to be confused with the synthetically produced polymerized siloxane.
Silicon is a chemical element with the symbol Si and atomic number 14. It is a hard and brittle crystalline solid with a blue-grey metallic lustre; and it is a tetravalent metalloid and semiconductor.
It is a member of group 14 in the periodic table: carbon is above it; and germanium, tin, and lead are below it. It is relatively unreactive. Because of its high chemical affinity for oxygen, it was not until 1823 that Jöns Jakob Berzelius was first able to prepare it and characterize it in pure form. Its melting and boiling points of 1.414 C and 3.265 C respectively are the second-highest among all the metalloids and nonmetals, being only surpassed by boron.
Silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe by mass, but very rarely occurs as the pure element in the Earth’s crust. It is most widely distributed in dusts, sands, planetoids, and planets as various forms of silicon dioxide (silica) or silicates. More than 90% of the Earth’s crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust (about 28% by mass) after oxygen.
ITPC Inc. encourages you to continue your own research on silicones – their benefits and their limits alike. But when discussing “pros” and “cons” of silicone or silicone kitchen utensils please stay with the facts and don’t emotionalize the discussion: silicone is fully a synthetic material and is in no way or aspect organic! The unbeatable ecologic and economic value of silicone products simply come from product sustainability and versatility – the first step away from the petroleum based throw-away-economy of single-use-plastics, which over the years have become such a burden for the different ecosystems of our planet.
You may wish to start your own research for basic and /or more specific information at the Wikipedia Online Portal, which had also inspired us. You may also find it helpful to browse the Chinese / English/German web pages of the global silicone technology leader Wacker Chemie AG (we with ITPC Inc. are neither promoting this company nor do we maintain a commercial relationship with them – they have simply a very informative and multilingual website; and when it comes to silicones beyond the lecture hall of chemistry, they are the ones…
By the way, they still operate the facility at Nünchritz near Dresden, where the world’s silicone production once premiered. You will find Wacker Chemie either in the Wikipedia or on their own web pages.) But there is always more to find. Just make sure that you get facts.