Oxygen is the most prevalent substance in the earth’s crust. Such a fact is fitting, given the vital importance of oxygen to humans. However, silicon comes in second and is becoming increasingly vital in maintaining our current standard of living. It’s well known that we use silicon in our electronics, as it’s an excellent semiconductor, but you probably don’t realize just how many of your household items contain the element.
Silicone, a synthetic polymer made from silicon, was once described as nothing more than a “sticky mess,” but these days, we’ve found a lot of uses for it. Not only does silicone have a significant presence in the electronics industry, like its parent element, it has expanded to be a vital material used in nearly every industry you can think of.
Silicone sealants create watertight barriers when used to fill in cracks you mind find in sinks, bathtubs, floors, and around your windows and doors. Filling these cracks protects your home from water damage which could inflict serious damage on your home and become a financial nuisance. On average, homeowners face more than $2,500 of costs in cleaning of water damage, with the overall price tag from water damage running from $1,000 to $4,000.00.
Silicone also provides the properties for sealants to insulate homes and prevent the unnecessary use of heating and air conditioning units.
Hair and Skin Care
Silicon’s interaction with enzymes and other molecules in the body promote healthy hair and skin. With deficient levels of silicone come the risks of hair loss. This is why shampoos and conditioners with silicone tout shiny, fuller and thicker hair for their users.
Silicone is used in a lot of cosmetics including mascara. Because of how it bonds with collagen, silicone is also used in anti-aging creams and lotions as it promotes elastic skin and can help stunt the natural aging process
You may be most familiar with silicone in its rubber form. Silicone mixing equipment converts silicone into a solid silicone rubber, and because of the material’s low toxicity and high heat-resistance, it is becoming a popular material to use in cookware. It’s often used for making molds for cakes, cookies, chocolates, or even ice cubes. You may also find silicone pot holders, spatulas and spoons, lids, and collapsible steamers. Because of its non-stick properties silicone is also used in reusable baking mats that replace parchment paper.
Silicone is easy to manufacture and easy to color, so there’s a wide range of shapes, sizes and colors in silicone cookware. It will match almost any color scheme.
Silicone is also used as adhesives, especially for office supplies, and will help you stay organized. The light adhesive on the back of labels and sticky notes stick most anywhere, so you can peel labels for addresses, file household items, and post sticky notes to mark a task, keep a deadline or phone number handy, or readily find a page or paragraph in a large document.
Release paper, made possible by silicone, also helps protect many of your items from rain, humidity and other elements. The properties allow you to seal and wrap seasonal decorations and other things you might store away for weeks and months at a time without glue or tape.
Grease and other lubricants made from silicone remove corrosion and squeaks from machinery parts and door joints. Unsettling creaks and squeaks comes from rust and other sources of friction, and without lubrication, those noises may also indicate damage to hinges or joints which may require significant repair or replacement expenses.
When they were first proposed and made, contact lenses were made of glass, and the following incarnations were rigid and often uncomfortable. Because they were impermeable, they couldn’t be worn for very long without depriving the eye of oxygen. Over time, soft lenses were invented to allow longer and more comfortable use, and now, most lenses are made out of silicone hydrogel.
Despite its beginning, silicone has its stamp in many household and personal products and functions. The uses profiled here represent a small sample of this compound’s applications.