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What is Dimethicone

Dimethicone is a part of the silicone family that comes in the form of a colorless liquid. Few products have as many uses as dimethicone. Also known as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), this silicon-based substance offers numerous benefits across various industries.

Pharmaceutical, industrial, personal care, food, and other sectors extensively use dimethicone. Discover more about this siloxane and its many applications across industries. Like other silicones, dimethicone features as a prominent chemical in preparations for human use. With its non-irritating nature, dimethicone has applications in the medical, cosmetics, and food industries.

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Dimethicone Uses

Dimethicone's ability to reduce foaming makes it an excellent addition to food. Antifoaming agents added to oil prevent it from bubbling over and splattering when heated. They can also prevent excessive foaming of alcohol and other beverages during and after production.

Silicone-based antifoaming products, like dimethicone, may be an ingredient in the food or part of the packaging. If added to the packaging, the antifoaming product moves into the food slowly from contact with the package. These silicone-based products come in fluids, emulsions, and compounds. The form of PDMS added to a food or packaging depends on whether the food or beverage has a fat or water base.

Since PDMS has no color or odor, its addition to foods does not change the appearance or flavor. Because silicones have tolerance of high temperatures, they are safe for use in deep frying oils, which reach temperatures of hundreds of degrees.

The uses of PDMS come from its many benefits that extend beyond a single application or industry.

Hydraulic fluids must perform adequately at a variety of temperatures and pressures. Silicones such as dimethicone can withstand the extremes of heat and cold necessary in hydraulic systems. PDMS accounts for only one type of silicone used for hydraulic applications.

While silicones perform well in hydraulic systems, PDMS can provide foam control in several applications. Engine oil, hydraulic fluid, and transmission fluids are some products that benefit from the antifoaming properties of silicones.

In the medical field, PDMS has multiple uses. It can serve as an internally taken antiflatulence or antacid medicine. While still used as an antiflatulence treatment, dimethicone no longer is part of antacid formulations, replaced by simethicone. As it helps reduce foaming in hydraulic fluids, dimethicone does the same in the human body. By reducing the creation of foam and gas, it helps decrease the incidence of flatulence. Studies have shown nolong-lasting or severe side effects from ingesting dimethicone for antiflatulence.

It also plays an essential role in treatments for dry skin, diaper rash, and radiation burns. Dimethicone acts as an emollient, which traps moisture in the skin, allowing the body to heal its dry or damaged surface. PDMS does not harm the already damaged skin. The record of dimethicone not causing skin sensitivity or irritation is well known. In fact, the FDA recognizes this product as safe for use as a topical treatment in infants, children, and adults in formulations up to 30% dimethicone.

Another topical use for dimethicone is in treating head lice. Unlike other products that act as neurotoxins and allow the insects to build up resistance, dimethicone suffocates the pests. Studies have shown even 100% dimethicone for treating head lice is safe for children. PDMS traps water against the head, blocking air from lice adults, nymphs, and embryos. Dimethicone has an effectiveness of curing 94.5% of those with head lice after one treatment compared to only 66.7% with permethrin, the leading insecticide used for lice.

Silicone surfactants include both a silicone part and a water-soluble substance. One of the most commonly used in this category is dimethicone copolyol. This chemical assists in preparations that combine water and silicone.

Surfactants aid as wetting agents. These agents can help a water-based product to spread evenly across a surface instead of beading or clumping together. When using silicone surfactants, selecting lower molecular weights will reduce the wetting time.

This classification of surfactants reduces surface tension, depending on the number of methylene or methyl groups. When a molecule contains more methylene groups in the silicone, it has a higher level of surface tension than silicones with more methyl groups.

Dimethicone is a surfactant as well as an emulsifier, unifying water and oil parts of a mixture. For emulsions, mix dimethicone with the oil portion and prepare the water and electrolyte part of the mix separately. Slowly add the water to the oil mixture then combine at high speed with a blender until the result has a uniform texture with tiny particles. Dimethicone does not require heat for emulsification, allowing its use in a more manageable form of the process.

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