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Please Explain: Teflon

Friday, February 04, 2011

Polytetrafluoroethylene—also known as Teflon—is slippery, water resistant, stable at high temperatures, and used in hundreds of ways in everything from fabrics to frying pans. Today's Please Explain is all about Teflon—what it's made of, how it works, and the safety concerns about it. Bob Kenworthy, a chemist who, after working for four decades in the chemical industry, now works at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, joins us.

Guests:

Bob Kenworthy

Comments [21]

Ann Hall Every, CCP from Forest Hills, NY♠

Some more information - There are other trademarked names for non-stick materials made by Dupont - for example: Autograph2 is the name of the nonstick material that is adhered to the hard anodized aluminum cookware on some of the brands of cookware made by Meyer Corporation such as Anolon. I have their Anolon Nouvelle Copper cookware - just google it to see more about it. I use these non stick fry pans for certain foods such as crepes, frittata's.

High heat is not recommended for any brand of non-stick (especially the cheap ones) The only reason to cook over really high heat is when you are stir-frying in a carbon steel or stainless steel wok!

Feb. 04 2011 02:20 PM
Ann Hall Every, CCP from Forest Hills, NY♠

Some more information - There are other trademarked names for non-stick materials made by Dupont - for example: Autograph2 is the name of the nonstick material that is adhered to the hard anodized aluminum cookware on some of the brands of cookware made by Meyer Corporation such as Anolon. I have their Anolon Nouvelle Copper cookware - just google it to see more about it. I use these non stick fry pans for certain foods such as crepes, frittata's.

High heat is not recommended for any brand of non-stick (especially the cheap ones) The only reason to cook over really high heat is when you are stir-frying in a carbon steel or stainless steel wok!

Feb. 04 2011 02:18 PM
Deborah

I've kept a parrot since 1979, so I've known that teflon was deadly (for birds) for years, and banished it from my house. Given how easy it is to scratch any surface, I can't imagine why anyone would want to prepare their food on a teflon surface. This plastic formula reminds me of PCB's which is artificial, stable for 2000 years, and cancer causing. Just think of the number and quantity of chemicals that our industrialized society is saturating the planet with. Many of them are very stable over time. What happens when they all combine and float into our water supply?? EPA water test standards have not been updated since the 1950's, so there are many things they aren't even looking for. Also, there are large areas of the Pacific and Atlantic where plastic molecules coat the surface. Conventional plastic doesn't degrade for hundreds of years, so what happens when all those plastic bottles and bags in the landfills work their way into the water system?

Feb. 04 2011 02:11 PM
Ann Hall Every, CCP from Forest Hills, NY

TO JIM IN CARROLL GARDENS BROOKLYN:

If you can see the stainless steel or aluminum underneath the non stick material in your pans, it is suggested you throw them out. Mainly because once the non stick material has been compromised with a sharp utensil, it will continue to come off with continued use.

Feb. 04 2011 02:06 PM
Ann Hall Every, CCP from Forest Hills, NY

TO LEO FROM NJ:

Silverstone is just another trademark for the non stick material mfgr'd by Dupont.

Feb. 04 2011 02:03 PM
Amy from Manhattan

The other thing about Teflon-coated bullets (often called "cop-killer bullets," because they penetrate bullet-proof vests) is that they're likely to pass right through the body--so they wouldn't be there to dig out, although that might be more dramatic in a movie.

Feb. 04 2011 02:00 PM
Ann Hall Every, CCP

no no no.....not all nonstick cookware can go into the dishwasher - specifically hard anodized aluminum cookware - the non stick surface may not deteriorate in the dishwasher, but the anodized aluminum sides of the pan will turn white-ish or just discolor.

Only if the mfgr. like Anolon and others that say their anodized non stick cookware is dishwasher safe can you safely put it in the dishwasher!

Feb. 04 2011 01:59 PM
Carl Friedrich from Brooklyn

How about Teflon coated irons?
They seem to emit quite a strong smell when in the on position for a while. Is this hazardous?

Feb. 04 2011 01:58 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Recently I've seen nonstick cookware that doesn't use Teflon in health food stores. The brand I've seen is Ecolution, & their website (http://ecolutionhome.com/pofa.html) says they use water instead of PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) to apply the coating, which evaporates during the heating stage of manufacturing instead of being burned off in the firing-in process. They call their coating Hydrolon. Does the guest know about this product & how it compares to Teflon?

Feb. 04 2011 01:54 PM
Monica from Brooklyn

Can you ask your guest about putting Teflon pans in the dishwasher?

Feb. 04 2011 01:53 PM
Elaine from Baltimore

Len, pls ask about silverstone nonstick surfaces & Hard Anodized non-stick ware
Are they the same as teflon?

Feb. 04 2011 01:51 PM
Joe Geller from NY

A Teflon dielectric used between two conductors can be used to make one type of capacitor. (I have never heard of a Teflon based diode?)

Feb. 04 2011 01:45 PM
Alan Holzman from west orange, nj

i gave up all non-stick cookware. using non-stick cookware can be fatally toxic to my parrot. i don't feel comfortable with it for myself either.

Feb. 04 2011 01:44 PM
Mark from Westchester

On a positive note, Teflon is used as the shoe sole surface for a curler's sliding foot. Anywhere from 1/8th inch to 1/4 inch thick, great fof sliding on the ice.

Feb. 04 2011 01:40 PM
Elaine from Baltimore

Got rid of all my teflon and now use cast iron instead. Love how it browns everything from meat to onions and provides iron for diets!

Feb. 04 2011 01:37 PM
Jim in Carroll Gardens from Brooklyn

I'd like to ask your guest, is Teflon cookware that has become scratched or chipped still safe to use? Thanks.

Feb. 04 2011 01:37 PM
Gary from Upper Left Side

Leonard, please have your guest discuss the possible cancer risk of using Telfon saute pans, particularly at very high heat.

Feb. 04 2011 01:37 PM
Leo from New Jersey

What is silverstone nonstick surfaces?

Feb. 04 2011 01:35 PM
Laurie Spiegel from Tribeca

The fumes from cooking at Teflon, especially at higher temperatures, can be highly toxic to birds, causing respiratory distress and often death. If you have birds in your home play it safe and get rid of your Teflon and related "non-stick"-surfaced cookware.

Feb. 04 2011 01:02 PM
Diego

Warning to those shopping for cookware on a budget: avoid super-inexpensive nonstick-coated pots and pans. They will release a very noticeable and unpleasant chemical smell and taste.

Sticking with stainless steel or cast iron seems like a safe way to avoid such products.

Feb. 04 2011 12:31 PM
sumukha from Short Hills, NJ

I have heard a lot about Hard Anodized non-stick ware as safe against the regular non-stick ware. Is that true. If yes, why and how. if not, why not. Thanks

Feb. 04 2011 09:28 AM

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