Silicone – everybody knows this substance, but not everybody knows what it consists of and how it is produced. Silicones as chemical compounds – synthetic organosilicon polymers with a structure of siloxanes. Well-known industrial silicone available in shops is based on a whole range of plastics, mainly silicone resins and polysiloxanes. It usually also contains various admixtures or fillers, including dyes, antioxidants, texture regulating additives, as well as moldicides, fungicides and bactericides.
Properties of silicones
Silicones are commonly used substances, mainly due to their mechanical properties. Their application areas include industry, chemicals, cosmetics and medicine.
Basic characteristics of silicones:
- non-flammability – thanks to which they can be used in conditions where there is a risk of fire;
- thermal resistance – this feature allows silicones to be used in high or extremely low temperatures, without causing a change of their properties;
- chemical resistance – this feature allows silicones to be combined with oils and other chemical substances;
- electrical insulators – silicones are excellent electrical insulators, thanks to which they are widely used in the electronics industry.
Applications of silicones
Because of its properties, silicone is used in many branches of industry and production.
It can be found in almost every type of oil and industrial lubricant, among others in engine oils and lubricants for gears and engines.
These compounds are also important components of resins. The structure and properties of silicone give the resin a much more stable structure and make it a more effective binder.
You are probably also familiar with silicone used in the construction industry. It is mainly applied as finishing (for example to fill voids in corners) and as a sealant. After curing (at room temperature) silicones form a solid, impermeable structure, which perfectly fills gaps and protects them against penetration by liquid.
Specialty silicones are widely used in medicine, mainly in breast implants and in the production of dressings.
Many cosmetics and their ingredients also contain dedicated silicones. They are an essential ingredient in hair conditioners and shampoos, as well as many other cleansing cosmetics and makeup foundations.
Acetoxy and natural silicones
Now that you know what silicone is, how it works and where it is used, you should find out, what acetoxy and natural silicones are.
What is acetoxy silicone? It is easy to recognise because of its acetic, very acidic aroma. It is similar to the smell of cleaning products containing vinegar. Acetoxy silicone is a typical sanitary silicone, commonly used for grouting in toilets, sinks, washbasins, bathtubs, and sealing any gaps in shower cabins. It can also be applied as a protective joint, for example between a door frame and ceramic tiles. Acetoxy silicone is highly resistant to low and high temperatures and humidity. It hardens very quickly and perfectly protects the surface against penetration of any liquid. Hardening of acetoxy silicone always takes place at room temperature.
Natural silicones are odourless, chemically inert silicones, which are often used in agriculture, food industry and aquariums. Due to their chemical inertness, they have no harmful effects on health. However, the disadvantage of natural silicone is its slow hardening process. Similarly to acetoxy silicone, it is used for grouting and protecting parts which are exposed to moisture.
Another type of silicones used in construction and industry are specialty silicones. Among these you will certainly find glazing silicones, high-temperature silicones and construction silicones. Most of them were developed for a specific purpose.
High-temperature silicones are characterised by high resistance to extreme temperatures. They do not change their form or their properties, even when exposed to intense heat.
Glazing silicones are materials designed for gluing and joining glass, however this use is less frequent nowadays, as special adhesives have been developed for this purpose. Nevertheless, silicones are still used in the production and construction of glasshouses and glass elements.
Silicone – an ideal substance
Silicones have such a wide range of applications that they seem to be an ideal material. Of course this is not the case, but their versatility and low production price combined with excellent properties mean that silicones are used almost as often as adhesives.
The uniqueness of silicone products is based primarily on the properties of silicon derivatives – organosilicon compounds. Silicone and its compounds currently play an important role in industry. Popular products include silicon metal and microsilica, used in construction and many other industries. Silicon tetrachloride, which is a key raw material in the production of photovoltaic cells or optical fibres, is also becoming increasingly popular.
The PCC Group offers a wide range of high quality silicon-based products. Visit our website: www.products.pcc.eu.