Most households would, by now, have used a silicone utensil or two, or even a baking pan made from the same material, in the kitchen.
They come as potholders, spatulas, ladles, whisks and also as bakeware - rolling pins, cake pans and muffin pans.
Made from a synthetic rubber polymer created by combining silicone with carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, food-grade silicone has been classified as safe by various food standard boards around the world.
I like the idea of not having to grease the pan before using it. In truth, a slick of oil probably helps. Silicone, being flexible and non-stick, makes extracting a baked cake from the pan easy, but this flexibility can also be disconcerting as the contents may flip around.
These days, I place a plate under the silicone pan to prevent slippage.
There are also metal utensils which are coated with silicone and these are stiffer.
But make sure what you buy are made from properly certified food-grade silicone.
The cost is a dead giveaway.
If there are plastic fillers added to the mixture, the item would be cheaper, but of poorer quality. Such utensils would also have a decreased ability to withstand high temperatures. Their maximum temperatures would be lower than 220 deg C. So, read the label.
You can clean the silicone tools in the dishwasher, or by hand, in warm, soapy water. But do not use any abrasive cleansers and pads - just soak them in water for a while to help loosen material which is stuck on them.
If the item is badly scratched, throw it away because bacteria can get lodged in cracks, scratches and cuts.
Finally, while silicone is heat-resistant, it can still melt at very high temperatures.
This article was published on April 24 in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times.Get a copy of Mind Your Body, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.