After researching dozens of popsicle molds, testing 26, and making 140 ice pops over the past 2 years (as well as eating enough of them to give an army brain freeze), we’ve found that the Zoku Round Pop Molds still make the most consistent and modern-looking pops of all the molds we tried. The four-pop mold creates treats that are the right size for kids or adults, and they’re among the least messy to eat thanks to unobtrusive drip guards on the sticks. Compared to plastic molds, the unique peel-away silicone design releases pops far easier, and they’re also simpler to fill than other silicone versions. Finally, the Zoku Round Pop Molds were more durable than any of the others we tested. They work well for all types of pop—from creamy to chunky to pure juice—and retail for less than $18, making them the right choice for most households.
If our main pick sells out, we’d get the Zoku Classic Pop Mold. These are almost identical to the round version, except they’re oblong and made of plastic, rather than silicone, so they need to be run under hot water to set the pops free. These molds do have a larger footprint in the freezer, but they’ll also make six pops at once. The pop shape is slightly more prone to breaking and a little messier to eat—partially because the handles don’t come with a drip guard. But the shape makes them ideal if you like to bite into a pop. Plus, unlike the Zoku Round Pop Molds, these molds aren’t opaque. That’s useful if you tend to make more than one flavor in a batch, since you can see which flavor pop you’re grabbing more easily.
For serving a crowd, we like the Norpro Ice Pop Maker. You’ll get 10 pops all at once and their iconic, squarer shapes look most like the pops you’d have bought off an ice-cream truck in the ’50s. But the plastic molds need to be run under hot water (from various angles) to free the pops, and it’s tricky getting just one out at a time. The lid that sits on top of the mold can also be difficult to pry off. Still, it’s the best option for when you’re planning a party and need a lot of pops at one time. Considering how many pops you can get from it, it’s also fairly sleek, profile-wise, so you won’t have to clear out a ridiculous amount of freezer space to make room for it.
If you’re looking for impressive visuals, we wholeheartedly recommend the Zoku Fish Pop Molds. The adorable aquatic figurines will delight little ones, and they looked crisp and professional regardless of the pop recipe. Like with our main pick, it’s easy to pull the fish pops from their silicone molds, each of which holds about 1.5 ounces, depending on the shape—a great size for toddlers on up to elementary-aged kids. The molds are easy to overfill, though, and it’s not always obvious which of the playfully-shaped plastic sticks corresponds to which pop (the whale body gets a whale tail, the puffer fish gets fins, etc.) But overall, these were the easiest to use of the kid-specific molds we tried. As with the other Zoku molds, this set has a fairly large freezer footprint, but they’re unmatched in terms of visuals.
If keeping little hands clean by reducing sugary drips is a priority, we also like the push-style Kinderville Little Bites Ice Pop Molds. The molds feel sturdy, the 3.5-ounce treat amount is appropriate for children, and they can be made one at a time, so you won’t need to reserve a ton of freezer space. And you can recap and freeze them, in case your kid runs out of steam mid-way through eating. The shape of the molds doesn’t have the wow factor of our main pick or the Zoku fish pops, and they seem to have a smell when new that needs to be washed out thoroughly. They also don’t come with a stand, so they need to be filled in your hand and propped up in the freezer—pop them into a mug or cup to keep them upright before they’ve frozen solid.
I worked as senior editor of BUST Magazine for three years, covering their food/home section. During that time, I developed, edited, and wrote recipes. I also worked with chefs on food features and supervised photoshoots. I currently work as an editor covering food (as well as other sections) at a major national women’s magazine.
In order to ascertain which features were most important in a pop mold, which materials work best for a home cook, and how to make the best pops, I interviewed Reuben Ben Jehuda, owner/co-founder of the popsicle chain Popbar, and Charity Ferreira, who penned the 2011 cookbook Perfect Pops. For the original 2013 guide, writer Jamie Wiebe spoke with Doug Goff, a food scientist specializing in ice cream at the University of Guelph, and David Carrell at Brooklyn-based pop shop People’s Pops.
Popsicle molds aren’t must-have kitchen items like a saucepan or a can opener—most home cooks function just fine without them. But when summer rolls around and you’ve got kids or overheated party guests at your house, you’ll be very glad you’ve got them. Nothing tastes better on a muggy day than a fresh, mouth-numbing popsicle, pulled right out of the freezer and eaten under an umbrella.
Though pre-made popsicles are sold nearly everywhere, making them at home is perfect for frozen-dessert food scientists who want to experiment with flavors and creative recipes. If you don’t have the space or the budget for an ice-cream maker, a set of molds and a waiting freezer is all you’ll need to become a popsicle maestro. The process is also a fun and simple cooking project for kids or adults and can be customized for those with dietary restrictions.
Molds are generally offered in three different materials: plastic, silicone, and stainless steel. Each has its own pros and cons.
Plastic molds are cheap and readily available, but they’re prone to breakage and they also sometimes prove difficult to use, as they need to be run under hot water until they’ll release their precious popsicle cargo. Reuben Ben Jehuda, owner/co-founder of the popsicle chain PopBar, declined to say which material his stores use for their molds (it’s a trade secret), but explained, “For home use, you can definitely go with the plastic one. I don’t think it’s going to affect the quality in the long run, and they’ll stay good for minor consumption.” If you’re concerned about chemicals leaching from plastic pop molds, you likely don’t need to be (see our Ingredients of concern section).
Silicone is a frequently used material in pop molds, but durability is an issue—accidentally puncture these molds with a sharp object in the dishwasher, cabinet, or sink, and they’re permanently out of commission. Plus, they can emit a not-too-pleasant smell and are more likely to hold onto the odors of pops past. Because silicone doesn’t become brittle at freezing temperatures and will simply peel away from frozen matter, it’s a particularly good material for pop molds. As food scientist Doug Goff told us, “plastic under a microscope is very rough, with lots of nooks and crannies, so ice can easily adhere to it and that makes withdrawal of a frozen novelty out of a plastic mold difficult. Silicone molds are much preferred for ease of removal, and they are smoother … but more importantly silicone repels water, so the lack of stick is mostly due to the lack of interaction between water/ice and silicone at the surface of the mold.” As with plastic, there’s little risk of chemicals leaching from silicone into your pops.
Stainless steel is the most difficult to source and can cost more than a novice pop maker may be willing to spend. Ferreira echoed those sentiments, “I haven’t tried metal molds—they’re expensive and not that easy to find, as far as I know.” (For the record, she hadn’t tried silicone and generally prefers plastic molds.)
As far as size, the best molds hold between 3 and 3.5 ounces. Larger pops can become tiring to eat, and less than 3 ounces just isn’t enough, unless you’re exclusively feeding toddlers. We’ve found the best pops for toddlers range between 1.25 and 1.5 ounces.
A tray helps keep popsicles from falling over and your refrigerator organized. Even better is a tray you can easily remove individual pops from; in some, all the molds are connected, making it quite difficult to eat just one—particularly if the mold is made of plastic and requires some running under hot water to release the pop.
Most molds come with reusable sticks, and some (such as our main pick) have built-in drip guards to collect sticky drops before they hit your shirt. The popsicle sticks should feel smooth in the mouth during the final stages of eating and not too pointy, so they don’t present a hazard to children. We think buying wooden sticks and inserting them in the pops seems like a hassle, especially when you run out of sticks and can’t make pops spontaneously. But it comes down to a matter of preference—Ferreira told us that she doesn’t like the look or feel of pops with plastic sticks and always opts for wood.
For our original review, we tested 16 molds, making approximately 60 pops. After speaking with experts, scouring Amazon and food blogs, and re-reading well-respected editorial sources cited in the first review, we chose 10 additional molds to test against our five original winners and made about 80 pops. The original winners were the Zoku Round Pop Molds, Zoku Classic Pop Molds, Norpro Ice Pop Maker, Kinderville Little Bites Ice Pop Molds, and the Tovolo Rocket Pop Molds. For this update, we tried Sunsella Mighty Pops and Silicone Essentials Ice Pop Molds By Zovolo in the silicone category. For more classic/standard pops, we tried the Freezer Pop Maker from Prepworks (from Progressive International), Freezycup Stainless Steel Individual Ice Pop Mold, and The Friendly Yeti’s Ice Pop Molds (unavailable). To make sure we experienced a wide spectrum of cute-shaped pops, we also tried Zoku Fish Pop Molds, Tovolo Ice Cream Pop Molds, Cuisipro Snap Fit Robot Pop Mold, Tovolo Bug Pop Molds, and Cuisipro Mini Safari Pop Molds.
In order to determine whether the molds had trouble with certain pop types, we tried four different popsicle recipes in each mold: pure orange juice, creamsicle, mixed fruit, and fudge. We did two rounds of pop testing in each mold, then hand-washed all the molds to assess how difficult they were to clean or care for.
After considering 26 molds for this update and testing 15, the Zoku Round Pop Molds—our original favorite—again came out leagues ahead of the competition. These molds produced the most consistent pops, and they’re more glamorous and modern-looking than a classic rectangular pop (if you care about such a thing). The smooth, spherical pops were less likely to break than those from other molds. Compared to most of the molds’ we used, the well-constructed stand was easier to fill. It was also sturdier than the other molds we tried, resisting breakage even when dropped. Plus, because you can remove the pops from glove-like silicone sheaths, this is one of the few molds that you don’t need to run under hot water to release the treat.
The round, 3-ounce pops were easy to eat, and their perfect spherical shape meant they were less likely to shatter midway through the eating experience, unlike the Cuisipro robot pops, which have a large, angular base, and consistently broke when the pop was two-thirds finished. All pops are prone to breakage (including Zoku’s Classic pops), depending on whether you’re a pop licker or a biter, but the Zoku Round Pops clung to the stick well and resisted shattering.
The Zoku Round pops are also easier to fill, thanks largely to the lightweight, 7-by-5-inch stand that securely holds the molds in place during the pouring process. The wide silicone “lip” on each mold means you’re less likely to overfill them and have a spill incident. Tovolo’s rocket and ice cream pops, by comparison, have separate plastic molds that must be carefully pressed into their lightweight stands, and it was difficult to judge whether the molds were actually secure. Other molds were simply harder to fill. The Norpro and Progressive International each have a stand, but the mouth of the molds is very narrow, leading to frequent spills during the pouring process. None of the the silicone push-pop molds we tried came with stands, so filling them was precarious.
Because the Zoku round pop’s silicone mold is like a sheath that peels away, removing the pops was very easy. Unlike nearly every other mold we tested (aside from the silicone push pops and the fish pops), these don’t need to be run under hot water before you can get your pop. And since the flexible mold turns inside out (like a glove), it can be cleaned without any hassle.
These molds are “pop”-ular (I couldn’t resist). They earned an average of 4.6 out of five stars on Amazon, which is especially impressive considering there are more than 600 reviews of the product on the site. These molds were also recommended in a July 2013 review on The Hairpin.
Because of their round shape, these molds won’t make layered pops (you need a more oblong shape for that). The pops may also be too big and oddly shaped to fit in all but the most Steven Tyler-sized mouths, so they’re difficult to bite.
The large plastic stand also takes up a lot of space in the freezer (it’s 7 by 5 by 3 inches), considering that you only get four pops in each mold. And the cost of the Zoku might put off some consumers—you only get four pop molds for $18, and there are definitely cheaper molds on the market that offer more pops at once.
If the Zoku round molds sell out, we also like the Zoku Classic Pop Molds. They look almost identical to the round version, but produce more oblong pops, and they’re made of plastic instead of silicone. Like the round molds, the classic version is easy to fill and transport to the freezer. It does have a bigger footprint, though (8.5 by 4 inches vs. the round mold’s 7 by 5 inches). The design of these molds also makes them harder to use and the resulting pops a bit more messy.
You need to run the plastic molds under hot water to release the pops, so these molds aren’t as easy to use as the Zoku round version. The classic molds don’t come with a drip guard on their plastic sticks, as the round versions do, so the pops tend to be more messy to eat. The sticks need to be snapped together, making them more likely to leak. And the oblong shape pops are prone to breaking.
That said, these pops are easier to fit in the mouth and more pleasant to bite than the Zoku Round Pops, if that’s a concern. It’s also easier to remove the pops from their plastic molds than any of the other plastic molds we tried. It’s no surprise they earned an average of 4.6 stars out of five from 630 Amazon reviewers.
If you’re making lots of ice pops for a party or gathering, the winner from our first review is still the champion. The Norpro Ice Pop Maker is sturdy and functional, and you’ll get 10 pops all at once. Holding 3 ounces each, the pops are nicely sized and have that classic rectangular popsicle shape you’d find in a grocery store or in your grandmother’s freezer.
It’s tough to find molds made for non-professionals that make 10 or more pops at once, which is a big plus in Norpro’s corner. But as many reviewers point out online, it’s extremely difficult to get your pops out of their plastic prisons. The 10 popsicles are connected to a plastic top, which means you’ll need to run the entire mold under hot water for a while, from various angles. That can be quite tedious, especially if you just want one popsicle.
Still, it’s the best option for when you’re planning a party and need a lot of pops at one time. Considering how many pops you can get from it, it’s also fairly sleek, profile-wise (9 by 5 ¾ by 4¾ inches), so you won’t have to clear out a ridiculous amount of freezer space to make room for it. The Norpro outperformed the only other 10-pop mold we tried, the Progressive International, largely because its plastic lid worked better than the PI’s metal one. And the Norpro is $16 on Amazon, as opposed to $24 for the PI mold, which makes us vote solidly in favor of the former.
Keep in mind, you will need to buy disposable wooden pop sticks for this mold, as it doesn’t come with reusable ones.
For our original review, David Carrell at Brooklyn-based pop shop People’s Pops recommended this set. It’s what his team started out using, although now they’ve switched to a proprietary industrial pop maker. The molds have earned an impressive average of four out of five stars on Amazon, with a whopping 650+ reviewers weighing in.
As a fun alternative for kids, we wholeheartedly recommend the Zoku Fish Pop Molds. They made us emit a high-pitched squeal when we freed the pops from their silicone sheaths—the aquatic shapes are remarkably crisp and professional looking, true to the photos on the box. The 1.25-to-1.5-ounce size of each pop is just the right size for little ones. The silicone molds work identically to the Zoku round molds, but their size and shapes make them less versatile for the whole family.
The molds are very small and easy to accidentally overfill. Also, when you insert the plastic handles, they just rest jauntily on top of the liquid and don’t lock into place. But that’s not a design flaw so much as slightly confusing the first time you use them. The plastic sticks are shaped to correspond to each of the clownfish, shark, whale, octopus, scuba diver, and puffer fish molds, and there’s a small symbol on each mold that corresponds to a symbol on the popsicle stick. You need to match the shape on the mold to the shape on the stick, to make sure you get the desired visual effect (to see the symbols, you can’t overfill them). But mixing and matching them incorrectly isn’t that detrimental to the final pop, and we’re sure kids would be amused by the sight of the scuba diver with squid legs.
Like some other silicone molds, the Fish molds do have a slight chemical odor out of the box, but that should go away after the first few times you wash them.
Charity Ferreira told me that creamier recipes often don’t show detail as well when placed in elaborate molds, but I didn’t find that to be a problem with these Fish Pop molds. That may be because the molds hold so little liquid and therefore freeze more solidly than they would in larger molds. The Zoku Fish pops were definitely the most detailed molds I tried, but the way they’re unsheathed from their silicone molds made the pops easy to remove, and the finished pops retained an impressive level of detail regardless of the recipe.
The Tovolo Rocket molds were the winner in the “fun shapes” category in the original review, but I found the molds somewhat difficult to clean, and while the rocket certainly is cute, it couldn’t hold a candle to the adorable little aquatic figurines that came out of Zoku’s fish molds. The same was true of the other kid-specific molds we tried.
If you prefer a less messy pop, we like the Kinderville Little Bites Ice Pop Molds. The silicone push-style molds are great for kids, as they keep frozen treats from melting all over hands. Even a young kid would be able to figure out how to use them. You just squeeze the pop up to the top of the tube and eat while the pop sits inside the mold. They don’t quite have the wow factor of the Zoku round or fish pops, though, and they’re a bit harder to fill.
We were annoyed that the Kinderville Little Bites came without a stand, making the process of filling and transporting them more difficult. We didn’t trust the seal on their caps to hold when the pops were full of unfrozen liquid, because it was hard to tell whether we’d capped them securely. We also found the experience of eating them less enjoyable than eating the Zoku Round Pops because of a faint silicone smell.
Still, I couldn’t argue that the Kinderville molds are solid and simple to use, and they create less potential for mess than the other push-pop molds we tried, including the Sunsella Mighty Pops and Silicone Essentials Ice Pop Molds By Zovolo. They do have that same chemical smell that was present in several of the other silicone molds, but it was much less strong than with the other push-pop molds.
The 3.5-ounce treat amount might be large for smaller kids, but you can easily seal and re-freeze them in case your little one runs out of steam midway through eating. They can also be made one at a time, so you won’t need to reserve a ton of freezer space.
With 50 reviews, the Kinderville Little Bites molds have a 4.5-star average out of five stars on Amazon. They’ve also been praised by many family-oriented bloggers and sites, including Inhabitots.
All these molds should be thoroughly washed after every use, and make sure to consult the box to see whether they’re dishwasher safe (some of the ones we tested—including all three Zoku molds we tried—are not). As with any silicone products, take care not to use harsh scouring pads or steel wool while cleaning, so as not to scratch the molds. And keep them far from any knives or other pointy objects in your sink or dishwasher, so you don’t accidentally puncture them.
If you’re bothered by the smell retained by silicone, there are tons of tricks you can use to get rid of the odor, including this slightly gross-sounding but intriguing tip from Amazon that was praised by Chowhound readers.
If you don’t like using reusable plastic sticks, you can always use old-fashioned wooden pop sticks. Ferreira told us of a hack she uses to modify molds that come with plastic sticks: “You can choose to just use wooden sticks—cover the top of the mold with foil, make a slit in the foil, and insert the stick. That holds the stick in place while the mixture freezes.”
We tested these molds in our most recent testing:
In the cute-for-kids category, we give a second-place prize to the Cuisipro Mini Pop Mold, which made small pops that were just the right size for kids and features a small, unobtrusive drip tray. Each stick is shaped like an animal—we tried the “Safari” collection—and the molds have interlocking segments that allow them to fit together, making them more stable for pouring and placing in the freezer. At four pops for $10, they’re not the cheapest options, but they felt well-made and the resulting egg-shaped pop was easier to eat than the ultra-round Zoku pops. The handles also fit snugly onto the mold, making them less prone to spillage when they’re being transferred from the countertop to the freezer. Still, these pops were nowhere near as cute as the Zoku Fish Pops, so they ultimately wouldn’t be our first pick.
Cuisipro Robot molds were definitely charming, but not quite as magical as the Zoku options. (And the large 3-oz. size of the robots means that they’d only be appropriate for very hungry—or large—children.) As some Amazon reviewers pointed out, the robot molds also have a stick inside that looks like some plastic gears balanced on top of each other—it’s a cute effect, but potentially dangerous for little mouths.
Expense is definitely an issue with the Freezycup Stainless Steel Individual Ice Pop Molds, which cost $8.95 each. But we saw the appeal: The size of the pop is manageable for adults and children, and the somewhat-narrow tubular shape makes them easier to lick or bite than wider pop shapes. Unfortunately, since the drip catcher isn’t permanently attached (it’s a metal disc with a rubber gasket that you slide onto the popsicle stick), it tended to wiggle mid-eating, causing the pooled liquid to dump out. And while they’re intended to be able to stand up in a freezer on their own, our freezer’s wire shelves meant the molds needed to be placed into their wooden stand. But the stand is sold separately for a pricy $20.95, and the holes where the molds should fit weren’t exactly the right size, meaning we had to awkwardly wedge them in. We were also concerned about the possibility of misplacing the drip catchers or accidentally trashing the bamboo popsicle sticks that come with each mold, since they look so similar to the disposable wooden variety.
The Tovolo bug-shaped molds yielded pops that were only vaguely reminiscent of insects (they looked more like horseshoe crabs), and hold 3 to 4 ounces of pop—a little too large to be quite right for the kiddie crowd. Though their leaf-shaped stand and vine-like handles made them stand out from the pack of cute-shaped molds, the handle is prone to breakage, according to some Amazon reviewers, and the drip cup is nearly impossible to drink from without spilling on yourself given how deep it is (unlike the drip guard on the Zokus, which is flatter and easier to sip from).
The Tovolo Ice Cream Pop Molds were extremely cute in a retro way and some of the easiest molds to fill of any we tried, given the way the ice-cream-shaped molds locked into the sturdy stand.
But they lost points for the way their “cone” sticks were designed. The melted popsicle escaped down into the four-chambered handle, and it was nearly impossible to tip the cone into your mouth to slurp up the liquid. And forget about trying to clean inside the depths of those tiny plastic chambers.
Smell was an issue with the Sunsella Mighty Pops, which had a strong plasticky/synthetic odor that lingered during the eating process; it wasn’t enough to deter us from finishing a fudgsicle, but enough to be bothersome. What was actually more problematic was the process of filling them—the product doesn’t come with a stand, so you have to fill the molds while holding them in your hand or by propping them up inside a cup. The lack of a stand also means you’ll need to either lay them on their side in the freezer (and hope they don’t leak, which they are definitely prone to doing if you overfill them accidentally) or figure out another way to keep them upright. The cleanup process was tricky—without a dishwasher, you’ll need to find some way to wash the insides of the long, narrow tubes. Spoiler alert: It’s tough.
The Silicone Essentials Ice Pop Molds had many of the same problems as the Sunsella molds. They don’t come with a stand, and they need to be propped up somehow during the filling process. They also emitted a smell—it was slightly less strong than with the Sunsella molds, but still noticeable. The Silicone Essentials molds were also very thin, making it difficult to press the lids into place without the mold wiggling and collapsing.
We tested these molds in our 2013 review:
The Tovolo Groovy Ice Pop Molds were too large (even though pops were a scant 3 ounces) and not good at anything but fruity pops. The stick tends to pull out sans popsicle—either that, or the popsicle won’t come out at all. They shattered into small pieces when we dropped them on the floor with frozen ice inside.
The Onyx 18/8 Stainless Steel Popsicle Mold is made out of super-safe stainless steel so we wanted these to be a winner. But we found little shards of metal lining the walls of our molds. We found them terrible for transportation and that they don’t hold their freeze for long. And on a juvenile note, they’re quite phallic—enough so to grab the attention of everyone we offered them to.
The Mastra Orka Popsicle Molds make a cute little ice cream shape, and we like that they are made of silicone, but they make a teensy-tiny pop and their stand is flimsy and hard to use.
Tovolo’s Jewel Pop Molds are too small, holding only one ounce of liquid. Reviewers say that pops are difficult to get out of the tray, and that the plastic stick tends to break in half.
The ice pops we made in the Cuisipro Snap Fit Circle Pop Mold broke in half almost every single time. They’re nicely-shaped and a reasonable size, but we spent too long trying to get the little bit of ice pop stuck at the bottom of the mold to melt enough to drink.
The Monster Themed Ice Pop Molds are cute, but made of a very weak plastic. The mold and stand broke, and they’re easy to accidentally freeze upside-down, which makes a weird, stubby ice pop.
Other molds we looked at but dismissed:
The Make a Popsicle Factory molds are seemingly well-reviewed on Amazon, but many reviewers mentioned the flimsy plastic construction and issues with breakage. The shape is also not especially cute, especially when compared to the others we were considering.
At $25, the Popze IcePopIt molds are pricy, especially considering the fact that they looked identical in construction to some of the other push-pop molds we were testing.
The Norpro Frost Pop Maker fared pretty well in Amazon reviews, but users complained that the opening of the mold was too narrow, making them tough to fill. Plus, they had only 14 reviews, making them less of a known quantity than we would’ve liked.
We loved the idea of the Hamilton Beach FastPop Ice Pop Maker, which promises pops in 10 minutes, but reviews show that the machine has tons of issues with breakage. And at $44, it’s way too pricy for most casual pop-makers.
The Kidco Healthy Snack Frozen Treat Trays are too cheap to reasonably consider, and the reviews back us up: the cheap plastic is prone to breaking, even when you’re just trying to pull the pop out of the mold.
Child and adult nerds alike will probably flip out over the Star Wars Glowing Lightsaber Ice Pop Maker, but at $53, it’s not a good choice for the general consumer.
While the Munchkin Click Lock Fresh Food Freezer Pops are well-reviewed, the pops they make contain only two tablespoons of liquid, which isn’t enough for anyone that isn’t a baby or young toddler. Reviewers also say they can be hard to remove from the mold, requiring 10-15 seconds of hot water before releasing.
The Ostart 8 Cell Frozen Ice Cream Pop Mold is made of cheap plastic and ships from China, taking, according to some Amazon reviewers, between 2 weeks and a month to arrive in the states. Some have reported problems with the molds breaking en route.
Reviews at Amazon like the Jelly Belly Lickety Sip Ice Pop Mold, but they’re cheap—too cheap, prone to breaking, with hard plastic that’s difficult to get each mold out of. Plus, they’ve got the Norpro’s biggest negative—all the molds are connected—without any of its pros.
IKEA’s Chosigt ice pop maker is a popular, dirt-cheap pick, but reviewers at Amazon don’t like how small the pops are. A good fit for children, but not for adults—and still made of the same breakable plastic.
Cuisipro makes several shapes of their Snap Fit Pop Mold. This year we tried the robot shape and opted to skip their rocket and sailboat shapes. Reviewers say they’re a little too big for kids, the ones who would most enjoy the fun shapes, and the sticks were too pointy (as we found with the robot molds)—a health concern if the kids were to slip while sipping.
Over the past few years, there’s been concern raised by the media, parents, and other consumers about dangerous chemicals leaching from plastics. To our surprise, there’s new research that shows plasticizers—chemicals used to make plastics strong yet pliable—aren’t as big a health risk as they’ve been made out to be. The biggest concern has been about endocrine disruptors. Bisphenol A (BPA) is probably the most widely known, and many manufacturers have stopped using it in products for children (most of the pop molds we cover are BPA-free). However, it’s likely that other plasticizers pose more risk than BPA. A large-scale risk assessment conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (which has much stricter standards than the FDA) found that BPA poses virtually no threat—even to young children.
As for other plasticizers, the research isn’t conclusive on which ones cause harm and by just how much. But this may be a moot point, especially when it comes to pop molds. There can be leaching with some types of plasticizers, but it’s in very small amounts and can take years—literally. According to Neal Langerman, principal scientist and owner of the consulting firm Advanced Chemical Safety, it’s when companies do accelerated aging studies on such materials, subjecting the plastic to the equivalent of 5 to 6 years’ worth of use, that a small amount of additives could show up in food or liquid stored in plastic. This is a much smaller amount than would actually do harm, according to the available data, Langerman said. “But then I want to know what will happen if I leave it in my freezer at -7 or -8°C for 45 days. Well, that slows everything down,” since chemical reactions take even longer when cold. “So clearly, I’m not worried about plasticizers,” Langerman said. The bottom line is that everyday use of plastic popsicle molds is not going to pose a risk to anybody.
Technically, silicone is likely even safer than plastics. Because silicone is a silicon-oxygen polymer, it is one of the strongest chemical bonds there is, so it’s considered inert. A form of this makes up sand, and quartz—quite literally, it’s a rock. The FDA says that silicone is “generally recognized as safe” and says it can be safely used as food packaging. The American Chemistry Council says silicone is one of the most studied materials in the world and that it’s been shown to be resistant to both hot and cold (good news for pop molds).