Silicone baking mats are one of the handiest things to have in your kitchen. Not only are they super light and flexible (making them easy to work with), but they replace the need for baking paper or aluminum foil, which in turn helps to reduce waste and saves costs in the long run. Plus, being able to throw them in the dishwasher for a quick and easy clean-up is a bonus!
But are silicone baking mats safe to use? After all, some people are concerned about using products made with silicone because of allegations that it could be toxic. So what’s the truth?
The good news is that silicone baking mats are perfectly safe. They are made of food-grade silicone, which is a non-toxic material that has been approved by the FDA for use in contact with food. It doesn’t contain any fillers or additives, nor does it leach chemicals when heated.
Baking paper is what most people use to line their baking trays. So, is it safe to replace the waxy paper or your baking trays altogether with a silicone baking mat? Let’s find out!
What Are Silicone Baking Mats?
Silicone baking mats are really simple, you might have even seen them on TV or online and not realize what they’re called or what they are used for. Essentially, they’re flat baking mats that are made from totally food-safe silicone.
They’re made for the same purpose as a regular baking sheet or baking tray, meaning you can cook raw food on them, use them to bake your cookies on and even knead your dough on them. They are very handy little things!
Since food-safe silicone has a temperature range of minus 60˚C to 250˚C (with some special grades having a tolerance of up to 300˚C) the mats can be used without worrying about them melting, or becoming misshapen.
They’re different from other options on the market because they’re made from silicone, which might be a little obvious. Other options are typically made from metal since that is heat-resistant and long-lasting. Wood and plastic would typically burn or melt in the oven, while silicone wouldn’t do that.
Why Do Bakers Love Silicone Equipment?
There are lots of great reasons to love silicone baking mats, but it doesn’t just stop there. You can get an array of silicone baking equipment, ranging from silicone trays, cake, and cupcake molds, and even spatulas. I love that the price point of silicone baking equipment is generally really affordable. It’s not uncommon to see a set of silicone baking mats or molds retailing for between ten and twenty dollars.
People also love how hardwearing silicone can be. We’ve all had an experience with a utensil, bowl, or tool in the kitchen that you absolutely love and use every day. One day, frustratingly, you’ll drop it, and it will become unusable straight away.
My experience was with a measuring jug I dropped a few years ago – it split in half the second it hit the floor! Far from ideal.
Thankfully, silicone is more hardwearing than that. It’s durable with regard to both temperature and shocks, which is quite rare outside of metal. Borosilicate glass is the only thing that comes close since those dishes can go from the freezer straight to a hot oven. However, they often shatter when dropped.
Silicone’s flexibility is also a key feature that people love. Personally, I love how easy it is to remove food from the molds or cake pans – I can twist it to either side and food will easily pop out. Silicone molds are also popularly used amongst chocolate makers and patisserie chefs for that exact reason.
One more huge bonus that people love is how easy it is to clean silicone baking mats and pans. The ability of the material to stand up to heat allows you to throw it in the dishwasher without a care, but even if your mat is coated with baked-on items, it’s still easy to manage with simply some hot soap and water.
Are Silicone Baking Sheets Safe?
In short, yes. Silicone is extremely resistant to a wide range of temperatures, as well as being incredibly flexible and easy to manipulate in your kitchen.
The only downside of silicone from a safety point of view is the upper limit of the temperature tolerance.
Most food-safe silicone is rated to withstand temperatures up to 250˚C, which will be plenty of heat for most cooking applications. Generally speaking, most cooking is done between 150˚C (302˚F) and 250˚C (482˚F). This means that, for most applications, silicone is perfectly safe to use in your home.
The only downside would be if you were looking to cook at a higher temperature than that. Temperatures like that might occur on a grill or within a pizza oven. A pizza oven is typically around 300˚C, while grills can range from 250˚C to 450˚C.
While silicone could be safe at the lower end of these temperatures, it definitely wouldn’t be safe at the higher end. To get anything close to safe, you would have to seek out specialist food-safe silicone that can handle the temperature.
One bonus of silicone baking mat safety that we haven’t mentioned yet is relative to BPA.
BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical that’s used to make plastic. It hardens plastic from a rubbery texture so that, when cooled, it can be rigid, like Tupperware.
Some studies have shown that plastic can release BPA when it gets extremely hot, for instance, if it’s in the sun, or if it’s being used in an oven.
If you ingest BPA, there’s a chance it can affect the hormone system in your body. You would need to eat quite a lot of it, which makes the risk very low. Despite this low risk, it’s something that people still care about, leading to various manufacturers labeling their products ‘BPA-free’.
Food-grade silicone contains no BPA whatsoever, meaning that there is no risk of silicone baking mats in your kitchen harming you after being exposed to high temperatures. That’s a relief, to say the least.
Proper Silicone Baking Mat Safety Practices
To answer the question at the heart of this article (are silicone baking sheets safe?), the answer is yes. However, they can still injure you if you use them incorrectly. Here are a few simple guidelines to ensure proper silicone baking mat safety in your kitchen.
- Use them within their rated temperatures. Using silicone baking mats is totally safe up to 250˚C (482˚F). If you go above that temperature, you might see the silicone start to melt, at which point it’s no longer safe. Double-check the oven temperature before you place silicone into it.
- Don’t touch silicone that’s fresh from the oven. While silicone is totally safe to be used at high temperatures, it will still conduct and absorb a lot of heat. If you touch silicone that’s still in the oven or has freshly come out of it, it will be hot, and you could burn yourself.
- Don’t cut on the silicone. While silicone is resistant to damage from impacts and shocks, it can be cut and sliced quite easily with scissors or knives. To be sure that you don’t ruin your silicone baking mats as soon as you get them, remove any food from the mats before you start cutting into them. That includes cutting cookies with sharp cutters.
I hope that this article on the safety of silicone baking mats and other baking tools has filled a hole in your knowledge. At the end of the day, we all just want to feed ourselves and our families safely – now you know that you can do that with silicone equipment! But, if you are worried, you can always find silicone mat alternatives.