How is Silicone Made?

Silicone is made from silicon dioxide, or silica - found in nature as quartz, or common beach sand.

First, the silica is put into a Silicon Furnace, where a carbon electrical arc reacts at high temperatures to drive the oxygen out of the silica, combining with the carbon to form carbon dioxide and leaving silicon metal.


Silicon Furnace - United States
   

Fluidized Bed Reactor - China
The silicon is powdered, then combined with a copper catalyst and methylene chloride in a Fluidized Bed Reactor, which mixes fluid and solid ingredients at such high velocities that solid particles are completely suspended. The methylated chlorine reacts with the silicon, forming several different silanes - chemicals which have a chain of silicon atoms as a backbone.
   
Silanes can be combined with each other, with a related family of chemicals called siloxanes, and metallic or other additives to make silicones with different properties. When combined with a catalyst, the long-chain silicone molecules cross-link together to make the various forms of silicone we use today.
Silicone