When did parchment paper lose its innocence?
A topic about where to locally buy non coated parchment paper, had one poster asking "What do you mean un-coated? Parchment paper's fundamental definition is that it has a silicon coating"
That was news to me. I just thought it was heavier, unwaxed baking paper. It turns out it not only can have silicone, it can have clorine or Quilon.
There seem to be some that don';t have all this junk.
Also, how do you tell what is in the parchement paper on the shelf? They don't seem to say on the box what is in them, only that they don't stick.
I don't use silicon cookware when I have the choice. I don't want paper with slicon in it.
Gratuitous link about the difference of different wrappers such as wax, parchment, foil that I just liked.
I know this is a very old post but I thought I'd put my 2 cents in if it can help anyone else that is looking into this safety issue with parchment paper. Actually I was thinking of wrapping foods that I store in Ziplocks in parchment first before placing them in Ziplock bags to protect foods from the dangers of plastics, and that's how I ran across all this info on Parchment papers being lined with toxins as well! (seems like everything's toxic...) All of my research came about from the interest I have in Sous Vide. I'm wondering if wrapping in parchment before vacuum packing would be enough to protect food from a Sous Vide bath. Otherwise I won't be a Sous Vider.
The first thing I did after discovering good 'ol Parchment paper has also been lined with questionable toxic chemicals is grab my big roll of Kirkland parchment paper to see if I could see "Quilon" or "Silicone"... All I could find is a symbol/label that says, "Genuine Vegetable Parchment" which has a trademark on it. So I googled, "What is Genuine Vegetable Parchment" and it appears that it is completely chemical free and safe.
I hope this helps someone who's snooping around on the web for this info! :)
The Wiki article describes the making of parchment paper (w/o the silicone coating) thus:
"Modern parchment paper is made by running sheets of paper pulp through a bath of sulfuric acid... or sometimes zinc chloride. This process partially dissolves or gelatinizes the paper, a process which is reversed by washing the chemicals off followed by drying. This treatment forms a sulfurized cross-linked material with high density, stability, and heat resistance, and low surface energy – thereby imparting good non-stick or release properties"
I can't find any information about what the Barr 'special treatment' is. It probably is this acid bath.
'Genuine Vegetable' does not tell me anything. Is it for wrapping vegetables? Is made from peas and carrots? How is the paper turned into something that is parchment like? Parchment is an animal skin. Parchment paper is paper that has been treated (with an acid) to give it parchment like qualities.
It's hard to get clear information, but a few general comments are safe to make:
1) paper making uses a lot of things that pollute like acid, chlorine, sulfur. Some of the chemicals used stay in the paper. That's why the rougher, brown colored, unbleached papers are sold by the "green" companies, it reduces the production pollution and residual chemicals in the paper.
2) the more processed paper pulp is, the more aggressive the chemical treatment. I suspect that parchment paper that doesn't use a silicone surface has to be much more heavily modified at the molecular level, and therefore probably has more residual chemicals or caused more pollution in its production
3) silicon, the element, is all around us in nature. Silicone is a type of plastic made up of silicon and other substances. Different silicone products may contain different amounts of plasticizer (phthalate) molecules in them, which are what make it soft, and I think are behind the health concerns of people in this thread trying to avoid silicone.
Personally, I don't like the texture of things I bake on silpat silicone mats. I find I get better results on silicone-coated parchment paper on a metal cooking surface.
Also, personally, from what I know I would rank the baking sheet options in the following order for health & pollution:
1) greased metal baking sheet
2) silicone-coated parchment over metal. The silicone coated paper is "crispy" or hard, not particularly flexible, so I don't think it includes many plasticizers (phthalates). The problem with phthalates is that they leach out of plastic into food, but the silicone layer on the paper is so thin it probably wouldn't hold onto phthalates anyway, and it would bake out at high temperatures. Since parchment paper is still non-stick after it's been heated very hot, I don't think there are phthalates used in the silicone layer
3) silpat mats. These are so soft and plasticky feeling that I bet they are chock full of phthalates. Plus I don't like the results.
Wow, thank you so much for a goldmine of info! Yes, pthlates, parabens, etc etc (the whole rogue's gallery, LOL) is something we actively try to avoid. Having had a run-in with The Big C really makes one aware of the possible effects of what we might be putting into or on our bodies. For instance we now use shampoo and bath products that contains none of those chemicals; expensive yes, but not nearly as much as chemo.... But I digress. :-)
I have noticed that some parchment papers claim to be re-usable but since that is something I never do, it's irrelevant although I would assume that repeated heating MIGHT break down the silicone enough that any phthlates might be released. Yes, the Regency parchment over metal is the way I bake.
I had always assumed that it's the silicone itself that gives things like the Silpat mats, the baking containers, etc etc their flexibility; but is it more the phtalates than the silicone? (thinking about tubes of silicone caulking, and so forth).
This short article describes the process of making vegetable parchment paper. Although it is directed toward the type of paper that is used to wrap butter sticks in (which I always thought was waxed paper!), I wonder if a similar process is used for baking parchment.
Here's another vegetable parchment product that does note its silicone coating:
FYI, I did find a product that specifies all-vegetable AND no silicone:
Although they too misspell it "silicon" rather than "silicone", LOL.
That word has got to be right up there in the Top Five Often-Misspelled Words, along with "there/their" and "effect/affect". :-D
Yes, thanks for that great info, Steve.
What is annoying about this, skyline, is there is no control over what bakeries might do. That organic baked good I'm paying big bucks for could have parchment with unknown stuff in it. Parchment fish, chicken, etc at a restaurant ... who knows what it is wrapped in.
Silpat mats do NOT contain phthalates. They are perfectly safe as long as you do not heat them over their rated temperature. Unlike parchment paper, which you throw away after each use, they are reuseable and much more ecologically responsible. (heating parchment paper, coated or uncoated over its rated temperature releases such killers as carbon monoxide and numerous carcinogens--same as with that greased pan)
I'm with you: Prefer non-silicone items although I have to say I do have a silicone mat for rolling out pastry BUT that is never used in the oven or otherwise heated.
You're right, the boxes never give specifics but if you google the various brands you will find some websites that will tell you. For instance both the Wilton and Paderno World Cuisine brands are silicone coated.
So does the "If You Care" brand although the description is contradictory in calling silicone a "natural product". I don't care about chlorine (our public water is treated with it, so it's a moot point anyhow) but after reading about what Quilon is, I definitely do NOT want a parchment that's treated with that stuff (and I use a lot of parchment!).
I did however find this article saying that Regency makes (or made; the article was written in 2008) an "all vegetable parchment paper". Regency happens to be my brand of choice as a matter of fact. Here's the article: http://greenerpenny.blogspot.com/2008/10/natural-parchment-paper.html
The Amazon listing says "Regency Parchment is 100% pure vegetable parchment paper." But I'm wondering if the 100% refers to the PAPER itself (not any coating)?? At this point (pending further investigation, LOL) it sounds as if it might be non silicone, no Quilon (though being white I am sure it is bleached, as the non-chlorine ones are always beige).
Another great thing about Regency is that it comes in a 12" width which fits perfectly into baking sheets with no trimming. I also have their precut rounds, because I am lazy. ;-)
EDITED TO ADD: I see that Cooks Illustrated reviewed several brands of parchment, including Regency's, in July 2008. I'm not a subscriber and so can't access the full article, and my local libraries don't stock that magazine, but maybe someone else here might be able to post any comments about the coatings or lack thereof on the Regency paper. I did find one site that mentioned the paper uses no animal fats (which is probably the meaning of all-vegetable).