The Science of Silicone

Believe it or not, chemistry is everywhere in our daily lives. We rarely stop to think about what things are made of, the things that we use everyday and take for granted. Take silicon for example, which is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust after oxygen. The surface of the Earth consists of up to 28% silicon found in stones, sand and clay. Silicon doesn’t occur naturally on It’s own though and is most commonly found with oxygen in the form of silica. Silica is reduced down to produce silicon metal which is then reacted with other compounds to produce silicones. Silicones are synthetic resin with alternating atoms of silicon and oxygen.

You might not think such a material could be very interesting but it’s pretty clever stuff. Silicones are highly resistant to extreme high and low temperatures. They are also resistant to the damage done by UV rays and repel water. This makes them really important for many uses and are used a great deal in industries such as electronics, agriculture, textiles, transportation, construction and even cosmetics.

You may be surprised to learn that silicone has been used for over forty years in the production of medical devices, including catheters, needle coatings, pacemakers and gloves. Silicone implants are used to adjust body contour issues too. You’ll find this compound in everyday products as well including water-repellent aspects of clothing, electrical insulation, anti-perspirant aerosols and even in anti-acid medicines. For Silicone hose, visit

The Science of Silicone

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Silicone, therefore, has some extremely useful characteristics for many versatile applications. It is tough enough to withstand the effects of a jet engine but also safe enough to be used for baby bottle teats! It was originally developed as an insulator for electric motors and generators. Silicone rubber comes in three different forms:

  • A high consistency rubber (HCR)
  • A liquid
  • A room temperature vulcanisation (RTV)

In an unvulcanised form, the consistency can range from being a soft putty to the texture of cheddar cheese. Vulcanisation is a manufacturing process that converts natural rubber or similar polymers into more durable materials by adding sulfur at great heat to improve elasticity and strength.

Because of it’s resistance to extreme temperatures, it’s a great material for using in harsh environments. This is why it’s often found in engines, seals for furnaces and even components for the space shuttle. Silicone can withstand heat of up to 300 degrees for up to 3 weeks!

The Science of Silicone2

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Silicone rubber is also ideal for use in all weather conditions. Whether you expose it to cold, wet, dry, hot or humid – the rubber will retain its properties. This means it is the top choice for the construction industry for things like fire protection, coatings and glazing seals. The automotive industry also finds it useful for things like external trim and gaskets. Silicone rubber is also resistant to seawater and so can be used in marine machinery such as submarines and ships and also items such as diving gear.

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