The Disadvantages of Silicon
By David Karanja
Silicon is an element that is commonly found in sand, dust and planets, commonly in the form of silicates or silicon dioxide. The element is used for many industrial purposes, such as making of glasses, cements and ceramics. It is also used to make semiconductors, particularly the microchip. However, silicon has various disadvantages.
The disadvantages of silicon usually depend on what the element is used to manufacture. For example, when it is used to make bakeware, cooking materials made of the metal are too flexible, which affects how the baked products are removed from the oven. Bakeware made using silicon bend when the baked food is being removed, which causes bending and breaking of the food. If the quantity of food being cooked is large, it takes a long time for it to cook.
Silicon is also used in making of silicone rubber, which is a polymer used in making of gaskets and insulation. The silicone rubbers are usually bulky and thick in appearance. The rubber has high viscosity and resists the force that allows water to flow easily. The rubbers made of silicon should be vacuumed to prevent air from accumulating. It is also resistant to curing, especially if it comes in contact with sulfur- or clay-containing compounds.
Difficulty in Cleaning
When silicon is used to provide a seal around the base of the toilet to prevent leakages, it is difficult to install and remove, compared with alternative materials such as caulk. When making certain repairs that require lifting the toilet, it takes a long time to clean the silicone.
Maintaining it as a Sealant
When it is used as a sealant, silicon poses a problem to the user when it comes to maintenance of exterior materials, which are sealed using silicon products. Nothing can stick on the sealant, so the sealed surface cannot be repainted or stained. When the sealant is completely cured, it is also difficult to remove. While other sealants dissolve easily in several solvents, silicon sealants are hard to dissolve. This poses a problem to the maintenance of surfaces where silicon sealants have been used.
Based in Lusaka, Zambia, David Karanja has been writing since 2005. His articles have appeared in “Catholic Insight” magazine, “Drum” magazine and “The Post” newspaper. Karanja, who is a secondary school English teacher, holds a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from the University of Zambia.