Are Silicone Teethers Safe?
Most modern teethers are silicone, but can also be made of wood or plastic. You’ll definitely want to avoid any plastic teethers that contain BPA, PVC, or phthalates. That’s why plastic teethers are out as these potentially harmful chemicals may leach out when babies suck on teethers. Silicone as a human-made elastomer that has the properties of both plastic and rubber, is always mistaken as plastic. So many people wrongly presume that silicone teethers will be harmful to babies. Though silicone does share some characteristics with common plastic, it’s different from plastic, and silicone is much safer than plastic.
What is silicone? is silicone safe?
Silicone also known as siloxanes is a man-made polymer made up of silicon, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. Silicones are produced in forms including silicone fluids, resins, and liquid or flexible rubber-like solid silicone. The main sources of silicone are natural-origin silica stone (SiO2), water, and natural gas-derived methanol. In short, silicone is a synthetic substance made up of silicon, well, silicon is an element extracted from silica. Silica found in nature as quartz is the most common component of beach sand.
Silicone rubber has been considered SAFE in the United States for applications in consumer cookware and medical products since the FDA approved it in 1979. It is also approved in Canada. The GSC(Global Silicone Council) has conducted dozens of scientific studies showing that silicone materials are safe for human health. Risk evaluations have been conducted by regulatory agencies such as Health Canada, the Australian Departments of Environment and Health, EU Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, all risk assessments concluded that there is no risk to human health from silicone material when used appropriately.
Silicones have become enormously popular recently and are constantly marketed as safe replacements for traditional plastics. From kitchenware to baby products, silicone is everywhere.
Characteristic Properties of Silicone
Silicone is used for different purposes in different fields because of its useful characteristics. Properties of silicone that make it so unique include:
- Silicone has low chemical reactivity
- Silicone is low toxicity. It is FDA food grade apporved.
- Exceptional weatherability. Silicone has excellent resistance to oxygen, ozone, and ultraviolet(UV) light.
- Silicone withstands high and low temperatures(-60 to 250 °C ) far better than organic rubbers.
- Silicone has excellent moisture and steam resistance. It won’t deteriorate or break down in steam and hot water. So silicone teethers can be sterilized in steam or boiling water.
- Silicone rubber has outstanding resistance to oils, solvents, and other chemicals.
- Silicone has excellent tear strength and tensile strength. Teethers made of silicone are durable for babies to chew on.
FDA and LFGB test report of silicone materials
The silicone products we manufactured all are in FDA-approved silicone materials. For some European customers, they may require LFGB food-grade silicone. Every batch of raw silicone materials delivered to our factory will come with a raw material test report, either FDA, LFGB, or US California Proposition 65. The test was made by a third-party test lab such as SGS.
Post-Curing of Silicone teethers
Compression molding is a cure process for silicone products. The uncured silicone compound will be placed in a pre-heated tool mold. The silicone will be cured and formed in the final shape under high temperature and pressure from a high-temperature vulcanizing system of a compression molding machine.
Silicone products can have the physical parameters and mechanical properties after an “initial” cure, they are already the final products. However, some industries or markets must follow specific regulatory, environmental, and safety requirements which limit the amounts of volatile components that can be found in the cured component. For example, the infant care products, food, and beverage contact applications, and health care parts, to pass the respective testing or meet regulatory requirements, post-curing is often necessary to remove or lower the overall volatile content in the silicone articles.
Post-curing also called “after cure” means that the preliminarily cured silicone products are heated in an oven at a given temperature for a certain amount of time. The time and temperature can vary but the normal is 2 hours at 200°C. After the post-cure, the by-products(volatiles) can be driven off. For some silicone teethers requiring strict tests such as LFGB tests, post-curing is often implemented because it can stabilize the silicone to help standardize the end products.
From raw material control to cure process management, silicone teethers can be produced to meet the regulatory requirement, making sure the silicone teethers are safe for babies.