Silicon Vs Silicone: The Differences, Similarities, And Applications

If you always mistake silicon for silicone, you are not alone. You would almost guess that one is the British convention and the other is the American convention. Well, it is far from that. Let’s get the differences clear in this comparison of silicon vs silicone.

The first thing you should know is silicon is a naturally occurring element while silicone is a man-made product. Silicon comprises only one kind of atom while silicone is a combination of more than two different atoms.

Now, let’s get into the silicon vs silicone comparison in detail.

What is silicon?

Silicon is the fourth element of the periodic table. It is a metalloid that is a crystalline solid at STP. Silicon is hard, brittle, and has a blue-grey metallic luster with four electrons in its valence shell.

Silicon shares a lot of similarities with carbon because of its tetravalency. It lies between carbon and germanium in group 14 and period 3 of the periodic table.

It has an atomic number of 14 and a mass number of 28. Near its melting point, silicon has a density of 2.57 g/cm3, but when it is solid, it has a density of 2.3290 g/cm3.

Furthermore, silicon is the second most abundant element on the Earth’s crust after oxygen. It takes up 27.7 percent of the Earth’s crust. However, it is not present by itself in its pure form because of its high reactivity. Pure forms of silicon are present in sand, clay, all rocks, and soil.

In addition, silicon also exists in mineral forms. Some of these forms are quartz, jasper, and opal. It also readily reacts with oxygen to form a group of minerals called silicates such as granite and mica.

What is silicone?

Silicone is a synthetic polymer that consists of silicon, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. They are very durable, heat- and water-resistant which makes them suitable for its various applications.

Silicone is an important material in the manufacture of kitchen utensils, sealants for fish tanks and plumbing pipes, lubricants, and implants.

Additionally, silicones generally exist as solids but there are also liquid, fluid, and rubber silicones.

Comparison of silicon vs silicone


Silicon is a naturally occurring element made up of protons and electrons which make up atoms. Silicone, on the other hand, is a non-toxic man-made polymer that comprises siloxane units. These units contain silicon, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

Also, silicon is represented by the symbol, Si. Silicone has a molecular formula R2SiO (R is an alkyl group).

All forms of silicon are solid at room temperature but silicone may be liquid, gel, hard plastic, or rubber. In any of these phases, it may exist in the form of silicone oil, grease, caulk, resin, or rubber.


Silicon is a brittle metalloid; it has both metallic and nonmetallic properties. It is known for its very high melting and boiling points. At STP, has a melting point of 2,577°F (1,1414°C) and a boiling point of 5,909°F (3,265°C).

When silicon freezes, it expands like ice. Moreover, it is a good semiconductor.

Silicone is highly elastic and its insulating properties cuts across a wide range of temperatures. It is a flexible and sometimes transparent, moisture-resistant material with low thermal conductivity, low chemical reactivity, and low toxicity.

Also, because of its moisture-resistant nature, it does not support microbiological growth. It is resistant to oxygen, UV light, and ozone. Silicone is very durable, such that it can withstand extreme temperatures from −67°F to 572°F (-55°C to 300°C).

In addition, the properties that make silicone have a wide range of applications is its nonstick surface, water resistance, and low heat transfer.


When comparing the properties of silicon vs silicone, you can tell which will have more basic applications. Silicon is quite complex and does not have applications in everyday basic household items.

Apart from the manufacture of silicone, silicon has applications in the making of aluminum-silicon and ferrosilicon alloys. Silicon in alloys helps to enhance the resistance of the metals such as copper, aluminum, iron, and magnesium.

Furthermore, as a good semiconductor, silicon is employed in the manufacture of semiconductors, transistors, and integrated circuits. It is also useful in the production of solar cells to help convert solar energy.

Other applications of silicon include the production of ceramic glass tiles, silicon glass, piezoelectric glass, bricks, and fireproof materials. Construction, steel refining, and aluminum casting industries also make use of silicon.

The elasticity of silicone rubbers is one of the reasons why they have lots of applications. Silicone is useful in the manufacture of kitchen utensils, cake molds, and different bakeware.

More extensive applications of silicone are in the manufacture of adhesives, sealants for pipes and bathroom fixtures, insulators, paper coats, textile coats, coats for office machines (photocopier, printer, fax machine), airbags, shock absorbers, and windshield wipers.

Additionally, liquid silicone is useful for making lubricants and silicone grease. Finally, the inert nature of silicone accounts for its application in cosmetic surgery and the manufacture of children’s toys, nipples for babies’ bottles, and cosmetic items such as shampoos and conditioners.

Types of silicone and their applications


What weakens silicone?

The resilience of silicone to elements such as water and oxygen is one of the reasons why it is very useful in making sealants and other materials used underwater.

But, some solvents such as vinegar, alcohol, WD-40, and industrial-grade isopropyl alcohol can soften and dissolve silicone.

Is silicone a type of rubber or plastic?

Silicone is a synthetic hybrid of synthetic plastic and synthetic rubber. While it contains plastic, it is more durable than plastic. Also, silicone is a type of rubber that is also more durable.

Silicone is made in a way that it is resistant to heat, high temperatures, and microbiological growth. It is also non-toxic because of its inertness.

The unique characteristics of silicone are the basis of the reasons why it has broad applications across everyday household use to industrial and medical use.

Is silicone eco-friendly?

Yes, it is. Unlike plastic and rubber, silicone does not emit toxic substances into the environment. Moreover, it takes a lot of time and factors to biodegrade silicone.

It may take anywhere around 50 to 500 years to break down into pieces like plastic and other materials. The duration of biodegradation of silicone depends on factors such as external temperature.

However, the production of silicone takes up a lot of hydrocarbons from petroleum, which isn’t so good for the environment. In addition, most recycling facilities do not recycle silicone because it can be quite difficult.


The comparison of silicon vs silicone begins with its composition. While silicon is a crystalline metalloid naturally occurring as silica (a combination of silicon and oxygen), silicone is made from silicon, hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon.

In addition, silicones are durable, water-resistant, heat-resistant materials used to make kitchen utensils, lubricants, and insulators, and are applied in cosmetic surgery.

You will agree that the only similarities when considering the comparison of silicon vs silicone is the spelling (except the -one in silicone) and the presence of silicon atoms.

Silicon dioxide (silica) is a constituent compound in sand. Learn about how many grains of sand are in different quantities.

Thanks for reading.