Let's Talk Silicone...
Not all silicone cups are made equal. Some less expensive silicone products can contain fillers - and who wants that?! The majority of manufacturers use different silicone compounds when making cups, which means that one set of cups from one company are not necessarily going to be the same as a set of cups from another company...unless they use the exact same manufacturer...and even then there can be some differences!
When discussing cupping therapy sets with various distributors or suppliers, you will hear a lot of different terms used...let's de-mystify what these mean and understand why it's important to understand the terminology!
There are two types of compounds used when making silicone cupping therapy products...Food Grade and Medical Grade...
Food Grade Silicone - Food grade silicone is a non-toxic type of silicone that doesn’t contain any chemical fillers or byproducts, making it safe for use with food. This type of silicone is used frequently in making molds and begins as a liquid and then solidifies. Some applications of food grade silicone include baking molds, ice cube trays, grips on kitchen knives, whisks, spoons, and other kitchen utensils, and seals that would come in contact with foods.
Medical Grade Silicone - Medical-grade silicone is most commonly used for the manufacturing of pharmaceutical products and implant devices. The term ‘medical grade’ is applied to silicone products that fulfill these requirements: a long history of successful implantation in both animals and humans, manufactured under good pharmaceutical manufacturing conditions, and quality controlled for medical applications.
If the grade isn't listed, ask the company selling it so that you know exactly what you are buying.
Understanding the silicone compound that your cups are made from is - in our opinion - one of the most important things you need to know when it comes to your cupping products! Next, let's talk about the curing process used by manufacturers of silicone cups...sorry if this gets a little bit too 'science-y' for a minute!
In addition to the type of silicone compound that your cups are made from...also knowing what type of curing process was used during manufacturing will help you to understand the quality of the product you are purchasing. The two most common of these methods are platinum-catalyzed addition polymerization (platinum curing) or peroxide-initiated free-radical polymerization (peroxide curing).
Platinum-cured silicone is favored for its optical clarity - how transparent it is - and is widely accepted for applications where purity is a concern or repeated sterilization is required. Platinum curing has no byproducts and is the preferred curing process for medical related products. Platinum-cured products tend to have a higher tensile strength and tear strength and are viewed as being the cleaner silicone, especially for healthcare applications that require the utmost purity and cleanliness of materials.
Peroxide-cured silicone produces more of a translucent appearance as opposed to a transparent appearance and does result in some byproducts, which tend to be organic acids. Although a high-heat post-curing method can be employed to drive out many of these impurities, they are a major reason why platinum-cured silicone is often preferred for medical and FDA applications. Peroxide-cured silicones are generally less expensive to produce.
So, how do you know what kind of silicone compound or curing process has been used for the cups you're looking at purchasing? ASK! A reputable company will be able to tell you immediately the exact compound and process that is used for their products. If they don't know...it may be in your best interest to look for another supplier that does!
If you already have a set of cups and are curious as to what kind of compound or process they're made from...take a look at this photo and compare it to your own set and you may be able to figure it out!
Left: Food Grade, Peroxide-cured Silicone - the silicone is 'cloudier' and often will be slightly discolored after use.
Middle: Medical Grade, Peroxide-cured Silicone - the silicone is much more 'clear' but there is still a slight discoloration present.
Right: Medical Grade, Platinum-cured Silicone - the silicone is extremely transparent.
At Global Cupping, our silicone sets are made from either a Medical or Food grade silicone compound using a Platinum-curing process.
Stay tuned for our next blog post where we will talk about why the hardness of your cups matters!