Silicone is Not a Four Letter Word

We’ll say it right up front - silicone in lane conditioners is a good thing. That’s right, it’s a good thing. In modern chemistry there are no other additives that perform, and are as safe, as silicone.

The idea of using silicon in place of carbon did not come to be until the early 1900’s, and the first patent ever issued for a silicon containing chemical was not issued until the 1940’s. This is when the term 'silane' was developed, later to be known as silicone.

In the early years of development, silicone products were developed and used everywhere with great success. But then some problems arose with silicone, and it came from wood polishes. It was noticed that these new products repelled water, and when people started to re-coat the furniture and floors that were polished with this new stuff, they could not get the finish to wet - the finish would fish-eye everywhere. Eventually they figured out the silicone was not cleaned off the outer layer of coating and when they sanded the furniture, they literally sanded the silicone into the wood.

A similar problem occurred in the bowling industry in the late 1970’s with a lane conditioner called 42/40. That lane conditioner was silicone oil and it created a bunch of problems with re-coating a wood lane, and this is when silicone was "deemed bad" by the bowling industry.

However, it was found that you could actually re-coat wood lanes in bowling centers that used 42/40 with success and without problems, it just required more work. A fish-eye remover was required to get the finish to wet the lane surface again, and ironically, almost all fish-eye removers contain a type of silicone.

So to say something has silicone in it, and therefore it is bad, is a very generic statement. But that’s what has happened in the bowling industry.

Currently there are thousands of chemicals that contain the Si (silicon), and they can be found in everything from cleaners to adhesives. In cleaners, there are silicone based surfactants and silicon based builders, with some of these even being used in the bowling industry today.

The reason for using silicone chemistry in products is simple; performance. Most silicone additives are used in very small amounts, typically less than 0.5%. With carbon based additives on the other hand, it takes 1-3% of those less safe amounts to achieve a similar performance effect.

Kegel uses 0.1% or less of silicone chemistry in its lane conditioners to increase performance, while keeping a focus on safety. The advantage with using this technology is achieving the desired properties with maximum safety for everything the conditioner comes in contact with, and those products are tested extensively to ensure just that.

Nevertheless there are still some that like to promote their products as silicone free, as if it’s a good thing.  But, the alternative chemistry available for use today is much less safe in terms of health.

Don't fall for a sales or marketing pitch on a fear of something that happened a long time ago in a much lower tech era - chemistry has come a long way over the years. If you read the material list on the back of a product in your house you will find silicone in most of them. Silicone performance and safety make it great choice for use in everyday products, and also in lane conditioner. Bottom line, silicone is a good thing.

Read more about Silicone from Dow Corning

Read more about Silicone from the American Chemistry Council