Teflon, the non-stick material developed by DuPont, has been the gold standard of carefree cooking since it was introduced in the 1960’s. But is this material really all that it’s cracked up to be? Learn more about the advantages, disadvantages, and misconceptions surrounding this popular material
What Is Teflon?
Teflon is a trademarked combination of fluoropolymers produced only by the DuPont company. Coating pans with Teflon created a non-stick surface. DuPont has licensed the use of Teflon to several cookware manufacturers for use in their products, meaning that you’ll find it used with brands like Calphalon, Farberware, and more.
What’s Bad About Teflon?
Non-Stick is Prone to Scratching.
One of the major disadvantages of using Teflon cookware is that it must be treated very carefully or the non-stick coating can be marred or destroyed. Teflon pans should never be used with metal utensils. If you tend to cut meat or vegetables directly in the pan, steer away from using Teflon!
Overheating Poses Risk to Animals.
Another disadvantage of Teflon is that some of its fluropolymers can emit mildly toxic gases if overheated. While this rarely has any effect on humans, birds and some other types of small animals can become sick from the fumes. You should not allow Teflon pans to reach temperatures above 300°F, and you should keep pets out of the kitchen while cooking.
Good Qualities of Teflon
More Durable than Other Non-Stick Brands.
One of the reasons why Teflon continues to be the top brand in the non-stick industry is that it is applied in layers, which do make it more durable than competitors. The bottom, rough layer allows the Teflon coating to adhere to the smooth cooking surface of a pan. A middle layer resists scraping and scratching, while the top layer provides a superior non-stick surface.
High Grade Versions Allow Use with Metal Utensils.
Some types of Teflon coatings are more scratch-resistant, meaning that they will last longer. Look for Teflon Platinum and other professional varieties for increased durability.
Food Won’t Stick or Burn.
Teflon’s multi-layer coating makes cooking much simpler. Food will not stick to the pan, which makes it less likely to burn. Coatings and batters will remain on the food where they belong, and sauces will blend more easily.
Quick and Easy Cleanup.
Cleanup is much easier with Teflon. Instead of having to scrape away cooked-on food, you can simply rinse away residue. Some Teflon pans can even be used in the dishwasher, though hand-cleaning is so simple that it might not be necessary.
Misconceptions about Teflon
One of the biggest misconceptions about Teflon pans is that flakes of the fluropolymers used in the coating are hazardous if consumed. Since Teflon pans scratch easily, this myth has dissuaded many people from using the non-stick coating. However, there is absolutely no proven heath risk to consuming Teflon flakes. The fluropolymers are inert, meaning that they will not react with your body. Scratches in your non-stick pans are only a cosmetic problem.
If anyone knows of any proven studies which show that teflon is bad for our health please leave a comment and we will write it up on this blog.
Another good post on this topic: http://willtaft.com/health/i-do-not-use-teflon-cookware/