#AskTamara: Cupcakes, Muffins and Legos! Oh My!

#AskTamara: “What do you use to make muffins and cupcakes???!!!”


Something that I think is really fun/interesting/exciting about my advocacy work is that I NEVER know which of my posts or responses is going to cause a stir on Facebook/Social Media! It’s always a surprise to me, even when  – in hindsight – it makes total sense.

One of this week’s big “stirs’ has been over muffin tins and cupcake liners. I posted the rainbow silicone cup liners (pictured above) on a post on my blog in response to a question from someone in The Lead (Pb) Group. I had tested these a while back and had not yet gotten around to creating the post about the results I found (I have a backlog of probably literally thousands of things I have tested over the years that I have not yet posted on my blog!)

These silicone cupcake liners seem like a lot of fun. They are colorful and are easy to clean. They are safe for small hands to play with (no worry of being broken or cut, as there might be with glass cups.) They also contain an amount of cadmium (Cd) when tested with an XRF instrument that is far above the amount of cadmium generally considered as a threshold for what is unsafe for children (the toxicity level for cadmium is about 40 ppm and above – depending on which standard you look at). This particular set contains more than 200 ppm cadmium in each of the colors.

Read more about #CadmiumConcerns here.

In fact, I have found cadmium in hundreds of silicone objects over the past year; it seems to be very common at trace levels (in the 15 to 25 ppm range) in both colored and clear silicone products. I have also tested a few silicone products that have been *free* of cadmium [“ND” (Non-detect) — i.e. below the single-digit limit of detection for Cadmium on a Niton XL3T XRF instrument].

Curiously, to my knowledge (with the bit of digging around on the Internet that I have done about this subject), there doesn’t appear any public agency looking into this issue — the “issue” being both the mere presence of cadmium (a known carcinogen) in countless items intended for use by children and/or for use with food prep (most notably a LOT of baby bottle nipples and sippy cup lids and straws have tested positive for trace cadmium), and the second part of the issue being the question about whether or not cadmium in this form (in silicone) is in any way a health threat to humans — especially considering the typical usage of these items (with good examples being again – baking cups (heated) – and and again – baby bottle nipples (daily use by infants!))

That said, I would not personally choose to use the silicone items (for baking) for my family, given they have not been proven to be safe (as far as I can tell) in relation to potential cadmium exposure; they are used directly in contact with the food; and they are heated to fairly high temperatures (baking) — their resistance to high temperatures of course being one of their central selling points.

Instead, my cupcake tools of choice are the non-toxic (see note below), conscientiously-manufactured paper baking cups [click image to read about the company’s mission and practices]  pictured here (we buy both the small and large sizes) in combination with a plain, high quality stainless steel cupcake tin  – similar the one pictured here (all pictures are amazon links if you want to check them out there!)  These paper liners are coated with a form of silicone, but they do not test positive for cadmium.

I often use cupcake tins for the kids for art projects (see pic above! sorting legos, organizing modeling clay bit, or beads, etc.) I have relegated my older cupcake tins to those uses (including any not made of stainless steel or any with any kind of coating  – including nonstick, which I also would not use for baking in my home.)

As always, thank you for reading and please feel free to ask questions!


Tamara Elise Rubin
Mother of four sons!

*Links on this post may include Amazon Affiliate links. If you make Amazon purchases as a result of clicking through from these links, I may receive a small percentage of what you spend, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my advocacy work in this way!
Note about these paper products (from Amazon listing): “When using IF YOU CARE Parchment Paper and Baking Paper no greasing is necessary. The paper has been coated with silicone  – a non-organic natural product – on both sides. Many parchment papers are coated with quilon. Quilon is a chemical containing chrome – a heavy metal – which when incinerated becomes toxic and leaves trace elements. The reason for the majority of parchment paper to be quilon-coated is the cost, which is substantially lower than silicone. So, in order to be , the paper should be silicone-coated.”
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