What is Teflon® and PTFE? September 10 2018

PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) is the generic name for “Teflon®” (trademarked by DuPont). There are many manufacturers of PTFE but only PTFE produced by DuPont can be called “Teflon®”. It has been established by Guinness Book of World Records as the most non-stick product on the planet. Due to an impressive list of advantages, Teflon® was adopted for use in a wide variety of products such as slide plates, nail polish, stain resistant carpet and aircraft fuel lines. Over 30 years ago, Teflon® was analyzed and approved for medical use. Today PTFE is used in prosthetic joints, bone replacements and the tubes commonly used to relieve ear pressure in children.

Discovery of PTFE
PTFE was accidentally discovered in 1938 while attempting to find a new refrigerant.  In 1945, the material was trademarked as “Teflon®”. By 1948, DuPont, who owned the trademark, was producing over two million pounds of Teflon® a year. Due to the high temperature tolerance, low “coefficient of friction” and high resistance to chemical agents and solvents, Teflon® was quickly adopted for coating valves and seals in pipes holding pressurized, highly reactive materials and a large number of other commercial applications.

The first use of Teflon® for non-stick cookware was in France, in 1954. In 1961, the first Teflon® coated frying pan was developed in the United States and marketed as "The Happy Pan".

PFOA, or C8, is used in the production of Teflon®. If Teflon® is heated above 500 °F, small amounts of PFOA are released. The use of PFOA in non-stick Teflon® and other brands of PTFE products has been a source of disapproval for some consumer groups. Although a link between PFOA and health issues has never been established, the use of PFOA was virtually eliminated in the production of Teflon® for cookware.  Today, non-stick cookware contains less traces of PFOA than what is found in common household dust.
Production of PTFE for TFX NonStick! is completely free of PFOA. TFX Nonstick! has never contained PFOA.

Heat Resistances
While PTFE is stable and nontoxic, it begins to deteriorate when the temperature of cookware reaches above 500 °F (260 °C) and decomposes above 662 °F (350 °C). By-products of this degradation can cause temporary discomfort to some humans but has no long lasting effects. Potential for reaching the 500 °F threshold under normal cooking conditions is very minor. For example, meat is fried at 450 °F and most oils will start to smoke before 500 °F is reached.

Most Non-Stick Product on the Planet
With PTFE being the “most non-stick product on the planet,” early makers of cookware encountered problems. They were unable to get this non-stick material to stick to a metal pan. The pan was first sandblasted, then a primer coat was applied. This was followed by two coats of PTFE. The PTFE did not actually stick to the pan but seeped into the tiny pits in the rough surface of the pan. Today, the process is a lot more sophisticated with one side of the PTFE being chemically modified to become sticky and adhere to the pan.

Making TFX NonStick!
What makes PTFE work is the tight bond between the fluorine atoms and the carbon atoms in the PTFE molecule. PTFE sticks to PTFE but nothing else can stick to it.  To make TFX Nonstick!, loosely woven material is coated with PTFE. This gives TFX Nonstick! the strength necessary for daily use. The PTFE soaks through the gaps in the material, forming a tight bond with itself. This process is repeated until the material is coated five times, giving it maximum durability.

Safe Non-Stick Cookware and Bakeware
Today, 75 years after it was discovered, PTFE continues to surpass other materials in its resistance to harsh environments. It does not conduct electricity, nontoxic and provides a very low friction surface. PTFE is also highly resistant to water, heat, and chemicals. The durability, low friction, nontoxic characteristics of PTFE; make TFX NonStick! a trusted and safe non-stick cookware and bakeware product line.

Did you know? PTFE is the only synthetic surface to which the toe pads of a gecko will not stick. It is little wonder that the modest “Happy Pan” from 1961 was inducted into the Smithsonian Institute.

To learn more about TFX NonStick! baking and cooking kitchen products, visit the TFX NonStick! website. The Frequently Asked Questions portion of the website provides additional information to better understand PTFE.