Nylon and silicone were both invented in the 20th century. They are synthetic creations, with neither being originally intended for use in the kitchen. Over the past few years, they have been adopted for cooking purposes, and while the substances are quite similar, there are key differences between the two. So let’s look at nylon vs silicone spatulas.
Nylon In The Kitchen
Nylon is a generic term for a group of synthetic polymers. Nylon itself is a silky, thermoplastic material that can be melted into fibers, shapes, or films. Nylon was the first commercially successful synthetic polymer and was first used commercially in a toothbrush.
Like silicon, nylon does not scratch non-stick cookware. Most people would opt to use a wooden spoon when working with non-stick cookware, but it’s nice to have a bigger spoon or spatula made from a gentler material.
Nylon utensils, including spatulas, are also flexible. They are able to bend and scrape corners with ease and without scratches. However, they are difficult to clean. Cream, eggs, and rice tend to stick to them, and a scrubbing brush is not always effective in removing dirt. Some people also find that they are not aesthetically pleasing, though that is subjective.
What Are Silicone Utensils?
Silicone has gradually made its way into kitchens everywhere over the past few years, though many people are still unsure if cooking with silicone is safe. Silicone is a synthetic rubber consisting of bonded oxygen and silicon. Nothing that is used to manufacture silicone tools should leach into food, which is the main concern for many folks out there.
Most silicone cooking utensils are FDA approved, and the cautious buyer could always look out for their stamp of approval on any silicone kitchen tools.
The main benefits of silicone cooking utensils are their high-temperature resistance and non-stickiness. Silicone is remarkably non-sticky, and no greasing or prepping is required when using silicone cupcake or loaf pans. Food is removed with a subtle nudge. Almost all silicone products can withstand up to 500°F (260°C), and manufacturers often recommend a maximum oven temperature for each item. This is normally stamped onto the product itself.
Health Risks: Nylon And Silicone
If you plan to purchase or already own any nylon kitchen utensils, you should know some of their hidden dangers. Traces of a chemical known as Diaminodpheynylmethane, or DDM, is used in some nylon utensils, especially in black variants. Although occasional exposure to this chemical does not pose any risks, its presence in plastics used to prepare food raises some concerns.
A particular form of DDM is categorized as carcinogenic by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Researchers have studied the issue for some time, and have discovered that exposure to DDM caused tumors in rats. After a recent recall of a number of kitchen utensils for increased DDM, the European Union spoke out against the use of chemicals such as DDM in tools used to prepare food.
Unlike their stainless steel counterparts, nylon utensils have a tendency to crack. Because of this, food particles can become stuck inside the cracks and remain even after the utensil has been cleaned. As those particles rot, they can contaminate other fresh foods that come into contact with the utensil. It is safer just to discard the utensil if you notice any cracks.
Many people have reported unpleasant odors coming from their silicone bakeware when baking. It’s apparent that these odors are linked to fillers in the products, rather than the silicone itself. Due to its increasing popularity, lower quality silicone has reached the market, for a lower price than that of the more premium products. A simple way to test whether or not a silicone product contains fillers is to twist it: if it turns white, fillers are present. Products made from pure silicon do not change color when manipulated.
Since silicone is a relatively new material in the kitchen, there has not been much research into its effect on food. However, there are no negative reports on silicone cookware. No news is good news.
Thinking Economically And Environmentally
Nylon is the cheaper material on average when it comes to cooking utensils. A set of silicone tools is roughly double, sometimes triple the price of a set of its nylon counterparts. This is due to silicone being more expensive to produce, particularly silicone that is filler-free. Nylon is used in a variety of disposable products like garbage bag straps or food containers.
Nylon and silicone both take years to break down, but silicone is a better choice for the environment, owing to its durability. It is far more environmentally friendly to invest in a good set of silicone utensils rather than flying through multiple sets of cheap nylon ones. Nylon is inexpensive and can be replaced with ease, but they’ll likely sit in a landfill after being thrown away.
In conclusion, silicone is a new trend that’s likely here to stay. Out with the old in with the new, and that means saying goodbye to your ancient set of dull nylon utensils, and trading them in for a fresh set of silicone ones!