Silicon or Silicone: What Is the Difference Between Silicon and Silicone?

Silicon or Silicone: What Is the Difference Between Silicon and Silicone?

Silicon and silicone sound similar but are entirely different. Silicon is the 14th element on the periodic table and is a naturally occurring element. On the other hand, silicone is a synthetic compound, i.e. it is artificially prepared. These two products are different in their making & properties and perform incredibly different tasks.

Now, the question arises what is the chemical difference between silicone and silicon?

Let’s dive right in you’ll learn more about silicon vs silicone.


The Element Silicon

The element silicon is the second most present element in terms of quantity in the Earth’s crust after oxygen, as it contains the properties of both metals and non-metals. This solves the most common confusion i.e. silicon is a metal or a nonmetal. Well, it is a metalloid. It is rare to find silicon in its purest form in nature, as it often binds with oxygen to form silica. When silicon and oxygen are mixed with reactive metals, they transform into silicates. “Si” is the symbol of silicons.



Applications of silicon

    1. SBeing a great semiconductor, silicon is commonly used in integrated circuits and microchips..
    2. Silicon has the potential to protect sensitive devices from electrical shocks and any other hazards in the form of case coverage.
    3. Pure silicon is used in steel refining, casting aluminum, and the chemical industry.
    4. Silicon glasses are also used in laboratories as electrical insulators.



Definition Of Silicones

Silicone is a synthetic compound composed of siloxanes. It is generally in the form of a liquid or a flexible rubber-like plastic. This compound has low toxicity and high heat resistance. Silicone is synthesized using natural silica, and water-methanol.

Silicone comprises silicon, oxygen, and other elements like hydrogen and carbon. This inorganic polymer of silicon and oxygen is also known as polydimethylsiloxane. A high molecular weight silicone is in the form of rubber and a low molecular weight silicone is in the form of an oil. Silicon is present in nature whereas silicone is artificially prepared with siloxanes. The chemical formula of silicone is (R2SiO)x where R represents any organic groups.



Applications of silicone

  1. Silicone rubber is widely used in industrial applications and in manufacturing consumer products.
  2. Silicone is an excellent choice when it comes to sealing watertight containers like fish tanks and plumbing pipes.
  3. Due to its water-repelling properties, Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) is a main part of Rain-X.
  4. Silicone is commonly used in car parts like windshield wipers and airbags.
  5. Silicone is used in manufacturing a wide range of personal care products like shaving cream, lubricants, and shampoos.


Silicone vs Silicon

Silicone and silicon are two products that people generally get confused about but are different in numerous ways.

    • Where is silicon and silicone found?:

      Silicon is naturally present in forms like sand or glass, while silicone is a synthetic compound developed in a lab using silicon and other materials.


    • Differences in the structure of silicon and silicone:

      Silicon is harder and can be broken down into smaller pieces easily. On the other hand, silicone is more flexible and has a rubber-like structure. For example, when you use oven mitts and panhandles, they have a rubber-like structure because of the presence of silicone.


    • Difference between silicon and silicone in their practical applications:

      Silicone has more variety of applications in the fields of personal care, home care, construction, paints & coatings whereas silicon has more number of practical applications like in the field of lasers, the steel industry, and many others.


    • Difference in their commercial use:

      One major difference between silicon and silicone is their application in the commercial uses. Silicon in its purest form is widely used as a semiconductor. This semiconductor is further used in computer processing. The most famous “Silicon Valley” in California was named after this well-known relationship between Silicon and the tech industry.

      On the other hand, silicone is used as lubrication in the machines and is used in manufacturing silicone cookware, due to its non-stick qualities. Silicone has a low toxicity for humans which makes it an ideal choice for use in medical implants and surgeries.


    • Application in heat resistance:

      When we talk about silicon or silicone, both products are heat-resistant, but silicon is generally used in making ceramics, glass, or bricks, whereas silicone is used in making kitchenware like gloves, and panhandles; thus assisting in preventing burns.


    • Difference in the properties:

      The properties and applications of silicon and silicone are very different. As we have already studied, silicon can be used in integrated circuits, and at the same time, silicones can be used to seal those same circuits and protect them from water damage. Silicone is used as a sealant in aquariums and plumbing pipes. Like silicon, silicones have high heat resistance and are used in making oven mitts, tongs, and cookware coatings.



Silicone Or Silicon? Which one to choose?

In the above blog, we understood the basic difference between silicon and

silicone. Silicon is a naturally occurring element present in the Earth’s crust whereas silicone is a synthetic compound developed in a lab with the help of silicon and oxygen. Silicon is found in solid forms like glass or sand while silicone can be in the form of a liquid, adhesive, or rubber-like plastic.

The molecular difference between silicone and silicon is only the presence of carbon, hydrogen, silicon, and oxygen. Since silicon is very rarely found in nature in its purest form, it is better seen in the form of quartz which is used in clocks.

Your type of use and the industry will decide which one of these you need, silicon or silicone.


Frequently Asked Questions

Now, that we know in detail what is silicon and silicone, let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions on this topic.


Is silica the same as silicone?

No, silica is a compound derived from silicon and is widely used in glass production, whereas silicone is a compound developed by mixing silicon and oxygen.


Is silicon an element?

Yes, silicon is a naturally present element in the Earth’s crust. It is the 14th element on the periodic table and the second most abundant element present after oxygen.


What is the melting and boiling point of chemical element silicon?

The melting point of silicon is 1,410 degrees Celsius and its boiling point is 2,355 degrees Celsius.


What is the use of silicon?

Silicon is used in making alloys, integrated circuits, microchips, steel refining, and many other industrial applications.


Is silicone used in everyday life?

Yes, we use silicone in our everyday lives when using kitchenware products like tongs, oven mitts, panhandles, and silicone cookware.

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