Silicone cooking utensils are becoming increasingly popular in the cookware industry. Most people have begun to replace their old cutlery and crockery for their more sturdy and durable silicone counterparts.
Silicone kitchen utensils claim to be safer than those of the metal and wooden variety, but are they worth the investment? Let’s take a look at wood vs silicone utensils to settle this argument once and for all.
Wooden Utensils In The Kitchen
For the last 50 or so years, metal kitchen utensils have been the standard in most homes around the globe due to their low price point and general efficiency. Recently, however, households have gradually been moving towards using wooden kitchen tools. An obvious reason for this switch is the aesthetic appeal, but there are more reasonable causes for the shift, too.
The first and most obvious reason is their safety. When plastic or metal is placed into an extremely hot substance, it can melt and potentially contaminate your food. At the very least, your food won’t taste very good. At worst: you risk your health. Most people don’t want plastic to become a part of their or their families’ everyday diet. Cooking utensils made from wood can eliminate this problem, which is one of the main reasons they are gaining popularity once again.
This is a little more subjective, but just as practical nonetheless: wooden utensils are comfortable to use. A lot of the time, cooking involves many hot appliances and surfaces, like stoves and ovens. Avoiding coming into contact with these surfaces is essential for both comfort and safety, and wooden tools prevent this problem, as they do not retain much heat.
Lastly, wooden kitchen utensils are economical. Although plastic tools cost less than wooden tools on average, they have a much shorter lifespan due to their tendency to melt when brought into contact with hot substances and surfaces. Wooden chopping boards, spoons, spatulas, and rolling pins are not difficult to find these days and can last over 10 years if they’re cared for properly.
Silicone Utensils In The Kitchen
Most people are familiar with wooden kitchen tools, but far fewer know about their silicone counterparts. To understand how silicone utensils impact your food and kitchen, it’s important to know the nature of silicone and its properties.
Silicones are polymers that are typically heat-resistant and come in either liquid or rubber forms. They are most frequently used in thermal and electrical insulation, sealants, adhesives, and cooking utensils. Silicone can safely come into contact with food, as it is a non-toxic material, as well as being low-taint, meaning it does not change the flavor or odor of foods or drinks. Silicone is becoming increasingly prominent in the household utensils market, especially when it comes to bakeware and kitchen utensils.
Silicone is often used as an insulator in items such as pots and containers. However, it is more heat-conductive than those of the less dense fiber-based variety. That being said, silicone oven mitts can withstand temperatures of up to 500°F (260°F), allowing the wearer to reach into boiling water. Silicone can also be used to manufacture molds for ice, chocolate, cupcakes, and other foods.
Are Wooden Utensils Safe?
Although they won’t melt in high-temperature substances or leave marks on surfaces, it’s still up for debate whether or not wooden utensils are safe to use in the kitchen. Certain woods have antibacterial properties and will not allow pathogenic bacteria forming in them. However, this does not mean that bacteria cannot form on wooden utensils or can survive once exposed to the surrounding environment. Wood cannot be used to kill bacteria.
A common misconception with the term “antibacterial” is that items with this property will kill bacteria. This is untrue. Wood is a porous material, meaning that it can absorb water. Food safety commonly states that non-porous tools should be used in the kitchen as opposed to porous ones. The more water something absorbs, the more likely it is to encourage bacterial growth and survival, thus leading to numerous health concerns.
Something that is not often pondered is the risk of splinters when using wooden utensils, especially in the kitchen. These splinters are a physical contamination concern, especially from wooden spoons.
Silicone And Safety
At a surface level, silicone appears to be safe. It is an inert material, meaning that nothing used in its manufacturing will cause it to seep into foods. A concerned consumer could keep an eye out for any FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulations of silicone products and cooking utensils. The FDA is an agency in the United States that oversees food safety, medications, and cosmetic products. The FDA approval of silicone products guarantees that the silicone is pure and does not contain fillers.
If you are not sure of the quality of your silicone kitchen products, a simple way to test is to pinch and twist. If the silicone turns white, it contains filler. Pure silicone does not change color.
Simply put, silicone and wooden utensils both fulfill different needs for your kitchen. No matter which you choose, you’ll be faced with pros and cons. In the end, it comes down to what you want from your kitchen and its tools.