What Are Silicones?

Silicones are produced by first reacting silicon—one of the earth's most common elements- with methyl chloride, combined with further reaction with water which removes the chlorine atom. These reactions produce polymers that essentially combine some of the physical qualities of a metal with the diversity of plastics.

Although they can contain organic components such as oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon, they have an inorganic (Si-O) backbone and are defined as inorganic or hybrid substances. Silicones are generally more stable and inert than typical organic substances.

Silicone polymers have an exceptional breadth of chemical and physical properties, and can be manufactured in many forms, including:

  • Solids
  • Liquids
  • Pastes
  • Greases
  • Oils
  • Rubber

Silicones can be made to resist moisture, chemicals, heat, cold, and ultraviolet radiation. They are noted for their ability to function in conditions that would destroy conventional materials. Silicones display a host of unique properties that can lubricate, seal, bond, release, defoam, and encapsulate. They can even insulate, waterproof, and coat. They do not conduct electricity. They won't harden, crack, peel, crumble or dry out, rot, or become brittle with age.

Because of these and other properties, they are utilized in thousands of products in applications including construction, consumer products, electronics, energy, healthcare, and transportation.