What is silicone and where is it found?

Silicone is made from polymers, which are highly versatile and can be found in lots of different products from toiletries to toys and sealants. Silicone shares many similarities with plastics, with the polymers working in a similar way. They have a unique chemical make-up and their molecular structure is complex. Silicones are built from atoms of silicon, which are the elements that are used to make glass; in fact, silicones share properties common to both plastics and glass.

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Properties of silicon

Silicones resist moisture and can repel water in much the same way as glass. They can also be resistant to temperature change and are unreactive with other elements, making them highly stable. Silicones also exhibit properties associated with plastics in that they are strong and malleable, lightweight and flexible.

You will find silicones in many forms, including solids, liquids, rubbery substances and gels; therefore, they can be used successfully in a wide range of different products and industries, such as household appliances, automobiles, clothing and medicine.

One important area in which silicone is useful is in the manufacture of rubber hoses for use in industry. Silicone hose manufacturers such as https://www.goodflexrubber.com/pages/silicone-hose-manufacturer use silicon as an important element in hose construction.

Silicon in nature

Benefits of silicone include its insulating properties, which can help buildings to remain energy efficient, and waste reduction, as silicones are useful to protect and extend the life of many products. In nature, silicon is found mostly as silicon oxides, such as quartz, sand, rock, crystal, agate and opal. Plants use silicon to strength their cell walls.

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Silicon makes up about 25 per cent of the earth’s crust and is the second most common element in the crust. It is the seventh most abundant element in the universe. Scientists think there is a ‘missing element’ in the earth’s core – an element that makes up a proportion of the earth’s centre after iron and nickel. They now believe this to be silicon.

Silicone is such an important and abundant material – it can be found in many places in the commercial world and we all have silicone-based products in our homes. From products as diverse as hair conditioner, bath sealant and window insulation, we can see silicone all around us in many different forms.

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