Last week I wrote about the toxicity of silicone and revealed that while research is still limited, studies show that silicone does leach potentially harmful chemicals into food, particularly at temperatures above 300°. Following the precautionary principle, I recommend avoiding cooking and baking with silicone.
What Do I Buy to Replace my Silicone Bakeware?
I have to admit, I will miss my silicone muffin pan. Silicone has become so popular because it is non-stick and is easy to clean. The safer options aren’t non-stick but that’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make. Here are some options:
Unless you are sensitive to nickel, stainless steel is a safe alternative. Just make sure the stainless steel is not coated or treated. You can find stainless steel cookie sheets, muffin pans, and baking pans.
18/0 stainless steel does not contain nickel and may be an acceptable option for those sensitive to nickel. If you have a nickel allergy, check with your doctor before using. Here is a cookie sheet made from 18/0 stainless steel with no coating.
Cast iron is generally a safe choice. Cast iron will release iron which has many important functions in the human body. You can, however, get too much iron. If you use cast iron, you may want to rotate it with other types of cookware to avoid getting too much iron. Here is a Lodge cast iron muffin pan.
Are Oven-Safe Paper Baking Products Safe to Use?
Paper is not inherently non-stick so most paper bakeware is coated. Parchment paper is usually coated with silicone or Quinlon, which is a chemical containing the heavy metal chromium. I have not found any studies that assess the migration of Quinlon into food so out of caution I would avoid it.
Oven-safe paper bakeware is usually lined with silicone or plastic. While I wasn’t able to find any studies that looked specifically at leaching from paper bakeware, I see no reason to assume it would be any safer than silicone bakeware. Out of caution, I would avoid it too. Sorry!
Should I use my Silicone Bakeware?
This is a personal consideration. The research on silicone bakeware is limited but there is evidence that leaching into food does occur. The only piece of silicone bakeware that I have is a muffin pan and I will be replacing that with a Lodge cast iron pan.
Another consideration is how often you use your silicone bakeware. If you are regularly using it I would recommend replacing it with a safer option. If you use one piece very infrequently the overall exposure is much less and you might consider continuing to use it. Find the balance that works for you.