Silicone & Sanity

Reader Sharon says:

I have several silicon baking pans (2 x 8 or 9 inch cake pans, and a bundt pan), and they all seem to have a greasy-oily film on them. I don’t have a dishwasher (except my hands!), and it makes me nervous to use them fresh out of the cupboard without washing them again.

Do you know what this oily/greasy film is? Is it supposed to be there? Does it have a flavor impact on what I bake? Does it retain flavors from previous bakes? Is it safe? And I can never get the baked goods out of the pan like the tv commercials. I still end up greasing and flouring my pans (so what’s the point of silicon?!). It’s driving me around the bend…Please help!

Hey Sharon! That greasy, oily film is in fact…grease and oil. A little of it at any rate. I have the same issue with my silicone molds, and I put mine in the dishwasher. The question is: why do oily substances adhere so ferociously to silicone? It’s the same reason they adhere to plastic bowls, implements and other rubbery substances: because edible lipids and non-edible polymers have similar molecular structures. When they get near each other they have a natural, shall we say, affinity for one another, and don’t come apart very easily.

The question is then: could that small amount of oil or grease it be harmful? No, not really. There’s very little of it on the pan, even if it feels like a lot. Provided you’re using and washing it fairly regularly it probably won’t rancidify, and even if it does, rancidification mostly just produces just bad smells and off flavors versus serious health hazards. (Some cheeses are naturally rancid — it’s not a bug, it’s a feature!). If the pan starts to smell bad try just washing it well in very hot, soapy water. If the smell persists throw it away and get another. Silicone is pretty cheap!

Thanks for the question, Sharon!

6 thoughts on “Silicone & Sanity”

  1. Denture cleaner works great for lingering odors on my silicone spatulas. (Sometimes I have to use 2 tablets to get the smell of chili out, though.)

  2. I find using a grease-cutting dish detergent, like Dawn, applied directly to the silicone works well to remove the grease. The grease feeling bothers me aesthetically, even though logically it should be okay. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly so the soap taste doesn’t stay with you!

  3. I wrap my silpats and other silicone items in paper towels for storage so the oils don’t come off all over the inside of my cupboards.

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