Are Silicone Molds Safe? | New Study Reveals Potential Risks (2024)

Have you ever experienced a bit of anxiety while removing a cake from its mold or felt frustration when the pie crust refused to budge from the dish? One popular solution to these kitchen mishaps is the silicone mold. Praised for its flexibility and non-stick properties, it has become a favorite among home cooks and professional chefs alike. However, since its introduction to the culinary market, concerns have been raised regarding its potential to leach chemicals into food.

In an extensive study conducted in France in 2022, researchers examined the safety of various silicone molds commonly used in baking. Out of the 29 molds assessed, only six were deemed to pose minimal risk to food safety. The study highlighted a range of issues, from chemicals with unknown toxicity to substances that could migrate into food, raising concerns about the overall safety of silicone molds in culinary applications.

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The Results of The Study

Various substances are used in the production of silicone. When in use, a silicone mold may release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are impurities or byproducts originating from silicone manufacturing. Some of these substances have the potential to be toxic, and many can migrate into food.

The study examined 29 silicone molds of different shapes and colors.

1. Silicone Molds to Avoid

These silicone molds exceed the regulatory limit for overall migration, which is set at 60 mg/kg of food. They contain fragments of siloxanes, additives, and impurities from silicone manufacturing. 

The harmful effects of many of these compounds remain unknown. But some of these compounds are known to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, or reprotoxic. And some of them appear on the European list of extremely concerning substances.

  • 1. Amazon Basics 12 cake cups 
  • 2. Tupperware 6 mini cakes 
  • 3. AliExpress 24 mini cakes 
  • 4. AliExpress 6 donuts 
  • 5. ionEgg (Amazon) 4 mini cakes x 2

2. Silicone Molds with Unclear Results

The silicone molds in this second category exhibit migration into food that remains significantly below the limit in France. However, limited information is available regarding some of the released substances. While some are undesirable but present in very low doses, others have not undergone toxicity evaluations. As a precautionary measure, experts advise against purchasing these items.

  • 3. Liewood 12 cupcakes Jerry Multi Mix 
  • 6. Shein 18 mini donuts 
  • 10. Super Kitchen (Amazon) 6 donuts 
  • 11. Dr. Oetker 6 muffins

3. Safe Silicone Molds

These silicone molds exhibit almost inert behavior towards food. Their migration is less than 3 mg/kg, and the study detects no undesirable molecules.

However, these molds are scarce, constituting only 21% of the study samples. Even worse, identifying them in stores or online is nearly impossible, as they are indistinguishable from less recommended models.

Silicone Molds – Safety Usage Tips

Whether explicitly mentioned on the packaging or not, here are some essential guidelines to follow after purchasing a silicone mold:

  • Before first use, prepare a mixture of flour, water, and oil, then bake it in the oven for an hour at over 200°C or 390°F.

  • Wait for the oven to preheat before placing a silicone mold inside.

  • Never use this type of mold with the grill function.

  • Place it on a rack, always at least 5 cm away from the walls and top of the oven.

  • Do not cut the cake with a knife.

  • Clean the mold with dish soap, avoiding abrasive sponges, or put it in the dishwasher if recommended by the manufacturer.

Protocole of the Study

Silicone molds can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during use, some of which may be toxic and migrate into food.

The study tested 29 silicone molds, preferring those with multiple portions, purchased from various European sources. Migration tests were conducted using 50% ethanol, 20% ethanol, and 3% acetic acid simulants.

Tests were run three times for 8 hours at 100°C. Evaluation criteria included total volatile compound release, potential increase over time, and the presence of problematic substances. Migrated compounds were compared to European regulations, and labeling information was also considered.

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