Every summer, moms write to me and ask how I would make popsicles without plastic. Until now, silicone popsicle molds were the only alternative to plastic. But is silicone safe? It is a synthetic polymer made from silicon (sand) which is commonly recognized to be inert. But my concern is not the polymer itself, but (as with plastics) the additives and fillers in the silicone and the question of whether or not they can leach out. What colorants are used to create those bright colors and what chemicals are they made from? I’m not saying that silicone popsicle molds are not safe. I’m saying that I don’t know and would rather err on the side of caution.
Stainless Steel Popsicle Option
Two months ago, Carolyn Cameron from Onyx Productions (whose online store is called Tickle Trunk) contacted me about the new stainless steel popsicle mold she had developed. Finally, a better alternative for Fake Plastic Fish readers. I asked her to send me a set to review, and finally this weekend, the weather was warm enough for me to want to give them a try.
The set comes with several parts:
(Note: Carolyn just let me know that the stand is actually upside down in this picture. Oops. It worked just fine anyway.)
1) A steel rack for holding the molds
2) Stainless steel molds
3) Stainless steel lids
4) Wooden popsicle sticks
5) Removable Silicone rings (to keep the sticks in place)
I made my popsicles from strawberries that are overflowing at the farmers market right now. My recipe: 1-1/2 cups cut strawberries, 1-1/2 cups water, 1/4 cup sugar, and a splash of vanilla. I blended it all up and filled the stainless steel molds. Within a few hours, the popsicles were ready for the test.
I ran one mold under warm water for no more than 1 or 2 seconds, and the popsicle slid out easily, held together well, and tasted great.
Pros and Cons
Obviously, the great thing about stainless steel popsicle molds is that they don’t contain chemicals that can leach into their contents. For parents, that’s a huge plus.
But there are a few aspects to the set that I would prefer were different. First, the steel stand is actually coated with polyethylene plastic. And unfortunately, the coating on the stand that I received was peeling off a bit.
Carolyn apologized and assured me, after checking the rest of her inventory, that the coating on all of the other stands was fine. But of course, this is Fake Plastic Fish, and I’m always concerned about plastics in our environment. Here’s what Carolyn said about the reason for the coating and how it’s made:
The coating is a non toxic polyethylene coating, (what they use in refrigerators and freezers shelves) that has been tested by a CNAS and Ilac – MRA accredited lab. Our coating was tested for lead, mercury and a whole list of other things – it passed with flying colours as per the RoHS Directive 2002/95/EC and subsequent amendments. (its safe)
We tried to have all components of the popsicle mold steel, and by having this protective coating on the stand it allowed us to do so. I’ve lost count of how many prototypes we had made! And as I mentioned, having [the stand] made out of stainless made it much too expensive, and plastic is just not an option. As it is, our mold is not cheap – but it will be the last one you ever have to buy.
Since I don’t have kids clamoring for popsicles, and since I’m not a big popsicle eater anyway, I personally wouldn’t buy a set like this with a plastic-coated stand. But obviously, I do use other durable goods made with plastic (like the keyboard I’m typing on right now) so the point is that we each have to decide what products are important to us and which plastics we are willing to live with.
The only other criticism I have regards the disposable wooden sticks, which the instructions state should not be reused. Personally, I think I would go ahead and wash and reuse them. But Carolyn has found a waste-free way around this dilemma too. She is in the process of manufacturing reuseable bamboo popsicle sticks finished with food safe vegetable oil and wax, but right now she’s not sure when they will be available.