This frequently asked question is actually rather misleading. The answer: most silicone-based sealants will be dry to the touch within thirty minutes to an hour. But this does not mean that the seal is ready! Before being exposed to moisture, silicone must cure. And even though many people use the terms cure and dry interchangeably, there is a world of difference between the two.
- Drying refers to the initial (and generally rapid) process in which water and moisture evaporate, leaving the silicone dry to the touch.
- Curing refers to a more complex (and slower) process of chemical changes that occurs after silicone is exposed to oxygen.
Generally speaking, most silicone sealants take about 24 hours to cure completely. After this point they can be safely exposed to water, moisture, and other conditions of normal use. It is important to mention, however, that a few factors can influence curing time. The most important of these are:
- Type of Silicone. Specialized silicones, such as sealants designed to withstand high temperatures or expand upon being dispensed, generally have a more complex chemical structure. This leads to a slightly longer sealing time.
- Purity of Silicone. Some silicones (especially those designed for indoor use) are mixed with substances such as acrylic or elastomeric compounds and this can also cause a slight increase in curing time.
- Humidity. Though it may seem a bit counterintuitive, humid climates actually facilitate faster curing.
- Temperature. The warmer the temperature, the faster you silicone will cure. This effect is compounded by the fact that warmer climates also tend to be more humid with the exception of desert-like areas. However, regardless of where you live it is recommended that you avoid applying direct heat to silicone in an effort to speed up the curing process. This is not very effective, and can negatively impact the longevity of your silicone.
Are you looking for a quality silicone sealant to complete projects in your home or on the job? Silicone Depot has what you are looking for! From automotive silicone, to expanding foam sealants, to construction-grade adhesives and more, our selection of silicone is as reliable as it is versatile. Visit Silicone Depot online today to learn more!