What is silicone and how is it produced?

The term silicone is an umbrella term for a group of synthetic polymers named polysiloxanes. In contrast to other familiar polymers like polyethylene or PET (that are constructed of a carbon framework that is mostly made out of fossil fuels), the backbone of silicone is a chain of alternating silicium and oxygen atoms. Over 90% of earth’s crust consists of compounds of these two elements, the so-called silicates. Quartz, feldspar and garnet are just a few examples of silicate compounds. The latter depict the parent substance for the production of silicones and are available almost indefinite.

For what are silicones utilized?

Besides the already mentioned backbone, silicones consist of various organic modules within their chemical structure. They can differ extremely and therefore provide the basis for the silicone’s diversity. Following, silicone can be utilized as caulking compound on one hand and as implant or coating for parchment papers on the other hand.


Are silicones harmful to the environment?

Silicones often are cosmetics ingredients and can be found in nature in huge amounts – especially in surface waters. They are toxicologically harmless and therefore neither pose a threat to humans, nor to nature.

In soil, silicones adsorb on clay and are catalytically dismantled into their single components which are named silanol monomers. Silanol is easily volatile and thus finds its way into atmosphere. Under the exposure of ultraviolet light, it is disassembled into silica (the precursor for silicates), carbon dioxide, methane and water. Consequently, silicones are entirely biologically degradable.

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