Silicon Dioxide Powder

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silicon dioxide powder, or silicas, is an important ingredient in many different types of food and supplements. It is commonly found in things like baking ingredients, protein powders and dried spices.

Why Is It Used?

Often, you see it added to things like cake mixes, flour, sugar or salt in order to help prevent the clumping that can happen when water and oil is absorbed by the crystalline structures of these products. This can make them difficult to use or even unusable altogether, so manufacturers add small amounts of anti-caking agents like silicon dioxide to prevent this from happening.

How It’s Made

Usually, it’s made in a lab. It is also found naturally in the Earth’s surface, within the human body and some animals, as well as in plants and drinking water.

The chemical structure of silica is quite unique, as it consists of an atom of silicon covalently joined to four oxygen atoms in a tetrahedral bond. This tetrahedral structure is a key component in understanding how silicas behave when they are heated to very high temperatures, which is how they can be used in microelectronics and other applications that involve high heat.

How It’s Used in Food and Supplements

Generally, it is safe to consume in normal amounts and there is no evidence that it causes cancer. However, long-term exposure to silica dust can be harmful, so the FDA has set upper limits on the amount of silicon dioxide that can be added to foods. More research is being done to understand the effects of silicon dioxide on the body, so more guidelines might be in the works.