What is it?Hydrated silica is a derivative of silica (silicon dioxide) , an abundant compound that forms about 12% of the earth's surface. Sand and obsidian are common forms of silica. In hydrated form, this ingredient is an odorless, tasteless white gelatinous substance which is chemically inert. This same ingredient may also go by the names amorphous silicon dioxide, silicic acid, or silica gel.
What does it do?Hydrated silica is a mild abrasive which gives toothpaste a smoother “gel” quality. Combined with calcium carbonate, it helps to safely remove plaque with brushing. We mix it into our childrens' flavors and our Wintermint flavor in combination with a regular toothpaste base to give these flavors a unique half-paste, half-gel consistency. The ingredients are thoroughly blended, however: the gel and paste ingredients are not made into distinct “stripes” within the tube. In our Antiplaque Tartar Control & Whitening flavors, the hydrated silica we use is milled to produce a slightly larger particle size (an average particle size of 10 microns, versus 8 microns, on average, in our children's and Wintermint flavors). This makes it a better cleaner, so that it can help to remove stains that have formed on teeth.
What are the alternatives?Hydrated silica represents the very safest and most natural choice for providing mild abrasivity and gel-like consistency. It is an ideal ingredient because it adds no discernible taste or odor to the end product.
What are the risks?Hydrated silica has a long history of safe use as an ingredient in food products. It is listed by the US Food & Drug Administration to be Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) and has no known toxicity or carcinogenicity. In the 1980's concerns were raised about the use of "silica," a term commonly used to describe both hydrated silica and crystalline silica. Crystalline silica is a toxin and evidence suggests it is a carcinogen as well. In response to the confusion created by the two ingredients sharing a common name, the Chemical Abstracts Services (CAS) created a new catalog number for hydrated silica to more effectively differentiate it from its toxic cousin, crystalline silica. The only potential risk involved in using hydrated silica is that it could be sourced in such a way that it is contaminated by crystalline silica. We require our supplier for this ingredient to use a test method called X-ray diffraction to conclusively prove that the hydrated silica we purchase is not contaminated by crystalline silica.
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