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What is Silicone? And what’s the difference between Silicon and Silicone?

Silcone and silicon are two very different things. They sound similar and are spelled almost the same except for an added ‘e’ at the end of one word, but they are completely different substances. Silicone is a synthetic polymer made from silicon, oxygen and typically carbon and hydrogen.

Also silicone is not just one substance but a type of substances, and can be in the form of silicone rubber, silicone oil, silicone grease, silicone resin, and silicone caulk. The most common is silicone rubber, which is the material from which the new rising trend ‘silicone wedding rings’ are made of. A lot of medical and kitchen products are also made from silicone rubber.

For a more extensive understanding of what Silicone is, you can check out this Wikipedia page, and for a deeper understanding of Silicon, have a look at this Wikipedia page.


Technically silicones are synthetic compounds called polymers, that are also called polysiloxanes. These synthetic compounds are formed by repeating chains of silicone atoms, oxygen atoms, carbon, hydrogen and sometimes other elements too, forming endless units of siloxane. Thus, the names polysiloxanes.

Silicones have certain common properties like being non conductive, heat resistant and thus are used extensively in medical equipment like gloves, kitchen products like mitts and handles, electrical insulation and of course in liquid form as adhesives, lubricants and sealants.

Some of its main properties which makes silicone a common material to use in a wide variety of industries are - resistance to heat, being non-conductive to heat, being non conductive to electricity, being a safe substance without any toxicity (so used in medicine), hypoallergenic, water repellent and resistant, stable physical properties even in changing temperatures, resistant to ultra violet light and ozone.



Silicon is a naturally occurring element, the 14th in the periodic table of elements. It is not a synthetic or man made substance but a pure element. And it is the most commonly occurring element on earth after oxygen. An interesting fact about silicon is that it has the properties of metals and non metals.

You must have heard of the famous Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area of the USA. It has been so called because there are many electronics and computers related companies concentrated in that area, and the computers and technology industry uses a lot of silicon in the form of silicon chips that are at the heart of computing.

Silicon is not usually found in its pure form but as silica, also known as quartz, the most common constituent of sand. Silicon and oxygen form silicates, one of which is commonly known as mica. It is also one of the main components in glass. There are two more commonly occurring materials in which silicon is a key part, they are concrete and bricks.

Silicon in its element form is what serves as a base for microchips that form integrated circuits that form computers.

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