A Guide to Medical-Grade Silicone and Smoking
Is silicone safe for smoking? Silicone is more popular than ever because it's durable, flexible, and safe for smoking — if it's high quality. Keep in mind that not all things labeled 100% food-grade silicone actually are. All Hydroponique products are made in the United States from medical-grade silicone. That means that they are safe for smoking, and won't ever affect the quality of your herb.
What makes one silicone better than another? And what is this unique material made from? Here's everything you need to know about high temp silicone, why it rocks, and why it's safe for smoking. Of course, none of this information is medical advice.
Is Silicone Safe for Smoking?
Yes, medical-grade silicone is totally safe for smoking. This means just what it sounds like: it's of the same quality as material used to make medical device components like respirator parts or menstrual cups. Here are a few properties that make medical-grade silicone safe for smoking:
- Thermostability: This is a fancy word that means that the material only changes structure at extremely high and low temperatures. In other words, you can't melt high temp silicone the way you can plastic, making it a safe choice for smoking accessories.
- Biocompatibility: This material is popular for medical applications because it's hypoallergenic and doesn't produce a response within the body, making it biocompatible.
- It doesn't conduct heat effectively, meaning that it won't heat up in one's hands the way another material might.
- Durability: Not only is the silicone we use safe for smoking, but it's also durable, meaning that it's tough to damage and won't create micro-plastics, which pollute our oceans.
WARNING: Not all materials labeled "medical-grade silicone" are necessarily of that quality. Some of the best ways to differentiate between cheap and medical-grade materials are to:
- Look for products made in America.
- Look for transparent manufacturing processes.
Is Silicone Plastic?
Whether silicone is plastic is often discussed in the plastics community. Many people describe it more as a rubber than plastic.
What's important to note is that while it shares some of plastic's best characteristics — it has low water permeability, can be molded into different shapes ... — there are lots of key distinctions between the two materials. Here are a few:
- Medical-grade silicone won't seep into water in warm conditions like plastic will. This is why smoking out of plastic is not safe. Plastic bottles heated up to 60°C (140°F) may contain toxins, according to Cancer Research UK.
- It doesn't break down into micro-plastics, meaning pieces of plastic less than 5mm in length that seep into our water and even our food. One study spearheaded by the World Wildlife Fund found that the average person may ingest 5 grams of plastic a week, which is roughly the size of a credit card.
- It's hypoallergenic. This is why medical-grade silicone, not plastic, is often used in medical device components, including those that may go inside the human body.
- It's designed to last. Silicone is stronger than most plastics, making it a more sustainable choice.
Silica vs. Silicon vs. Silicone: What's the Difference?
You may have heard these terms used, maybe ever interchangeably (which is incorrect). Here's how to distinguish between the three:
- Silicon (Si) is a natural-occurring element that appears on the periodic table. Fun fact: It's the second-most prevalent element in Earth's crust after oxygen.
- Silica is a chemical compound made of silicon and oxygen. It's most commonly found in sand.
- Silicone is a material made of silica (and often oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen) that has a rubber-like substance.
- Silicon Valley has its name because electronics companies in the region were making computer chips, which are partially made from silicon.
Fun Fact: Silicone is a man-made material, so it cannot be considered "organic."
Is There a Difference Between "Medical-Grade" and "Food Grade?"
Technically, yes. Medical-grade is higher quality, meaning that it is safe for bodily contact. Food grade is exactly what it sounds like: safe for food contact. Think of the difference between these two materials as the difference between the valve in a respirator and a reusable food storage bag.
The American manufacturer we work with only uses medical-grade silicone. Not only is our silicone bong dishwasher-safe and safe for smoking, but they're also hypoallergenic and super durable.
How Do I Know What Silicone Is High Quality?
Finding high-quality smoking accessories isn't easy. Here are a few things to look for when shopping for your new favorite gadget:
- Where was it made? All of our products are made in Maine. Not only does this mean complete material and manufacturing traceability (and wicked good quality), but fast delivery times.
- How transparent is the company? Typically, people who are willing to tell you about their processes have less to hide. That means sharing information (like this) on the materials they use and where everything is made.
- Smell. Things that aren't 100% medical-grade silicone will smell like plastic. Silicone doesn't have a scent.
- Color: Does it change color (i.e. become white) when you stretch it? Medical-grade material will have a consistent color no matter what you do with it.
Silicone is expensive. As a result, many manufacturers will use cheaper fillers and pass off their products as food-grade with little quality oversight.
Is Silicone Safe for Smoking?
All Hydroponique products are made from medical-grade materials in an ISO:13485 certified factory in Maine, USA. In other words, the silicone we use is safe for smoking. It is also dishwasher-safe and hypoallergenic. Of course, we cannot guarantee the quality of products that we do not manufacture.
The above content is not medical information and not intended for users under 21 years of age. It is meant for informational purposes only.