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What Does PFOA And PTFE Free Mean

Published by: Maria Kelley • Updated: January 20, 2024 • Checked By: Chef Matty Riedel

In the modern world, it’s essential to research and read reviews before buying any item in your home. You rely on insights from professional reviewers and genuine users. When the kitchen space is experiencing a sudden modernization, new appliances and cookware are being invented yearly, offering reliability and safety.  

What Does PFOA And PTFE Free Mean? 

The demand for non-stick cookware is increasing drastically, thus replacing traditional cast iron and carbon steel appliances. Almost every home has a non-stick pan. You have certainly heard about PFOA and PTFE free while reading online reviews or browsing cookware catalogues, or at least from your friends.  

When human health awareness is rising and environmental protection agencies are drumming support for advocacy and minimized emissions, you should know about the implications when buying a cooking appliance.  

Chemicals are used to manufacture cookware that might be toxic to the human body and environment. Being conversant with the materials used, manufacturing process, and reaction when heated is essential.  

What Are PFOA And PTFE? 

Perfluorooctanoic acid, usually abbreviated as PFOA, is a chemical used in the manufacturing process of PTFE non-stick appliances. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PFTE), on the other hand, is a chemical used to create non-stick coatings on products.  

If you find cookware labelled as PFOA-free or PTFE-free, they have been manufactured without those chemicals. PFOA or PTFE-free cookware can be made of other materials such as anodized aluminium, ceramic coating, or stainless steel.  

PTFE is popular due to its strength and durability. It’s therefore used in the motor vehicle industry. In the kitchen appliances space, the material is used to make cookware surfaces non-stick. Despite the rumored health concerns, PTFE remains unraveled in non-stick coatings.  

The intervention of the health advocates has seen companies stop using PFOA in manufacturing Teflon coating. Non-stick cookware featuring PTFE coating is safe to use, contrary to many people’s beliefs. You can prolong the lifespan of your PTFE-coated cookware by handling them properly.  

pots and pans on a wall shelf

PTFE has unique properties, such as a very low friction coefficient that prevents food from sticking to non-stick cooking appliances. Notably, the Teflon coating falls off when scratched. Its, however, still considered safe to use regardless of scratches.  


PTFE-Free 

Since PTFE is a compound that offers non-stick properties, PTFE-free indicates that the surface is not non-stick. Regular seasoning (adding oil) is needed on surfaces without the non-stick layer to ensure food does not stick. Seasoning surfaces without a non-stick coating gives them non-stick properties.  

PTFE-free surfaces are safe to use regardless of the degree of temperature. These surfaces, however, require a lot of work (regular oiling). All PTFE-free surface bar stainless steel acquires a special film with non-stick qualities. Stainless steel surfaces, on the other hand, do not require seasoning.  


Health Concerns Of PFOA And PTFE 

 In recent decades, there have been numerous questions about the safety of pots and pans used in the kitchen.  For instance, most people use a non-stick frying pan almost daily. It’s paramount to determine the safety of such appliances concerning the human body.  According to research, using PFOA-coated utensils puts you at substantial risk of various health disorders.  

PTFE is safe since it’s inert and thus cannot react with chemicals in food or inside the body. The chemical, however, is dangerous when subjected to high heat, usually over 300 degrees Celsius. On the other hand, PFOA has been linked to causing cancer and increasing the chances of getting certain tumours.  

teflon coated non-stick frying pan - is itPFOA And PTFE Free?

Although your non-stick cookware is PFOA-free, you must be cautious when handling them. Extremely high temperatures make the PTFE emit “polymer-fume fever,” leading to headaches, chills, and fever.  

Due to its adverse effects, the Environmental Protection Agency played a huge role in compelling DuPont to stop using PFOA in Teflon manufacturing. Other manufacturers followed suit to stay level in the game.  

In 2017, DuPont paid $671 million to residents of Parkersburg, W.Va. The company was culpable of contaminating drinking water with PFOA, resulting in numerous complications such as thyroid disease, high cholesterol, and cancer cases.  


Alternatives 

Due to health concerns, you might want to ply the alternative route. PTFE-free cookware is of high quality and does not produce toxic fumes, irrespective of the temperatures. There are several options that you can try.  

  • Metal utensils – include classic cast iron, hard-anodized aluminium, and stainless-steel cookware. They are oven-safe, easy to clean, dishwasher-safe, and can withstand high temperatures. Even though some are not coated, others are covered with safe materials such as ceramic.  
  • Ceramic cookware – some cooking appliances are coated with ceramic. They are easy to clean, oven-safe, and are safe to use. They are also scratch-resistant. 
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Conclusion 

Although most non-stick cookware is coated with polytetrafluoroethylene, you can choose various options, should you be wary about your health. Unlike many people’s beliefs, oddly, ingesting small flakes of the non-stick coating is not as dangerous as documented.  

Lastly, you don’t have to ditch PFOA and PTFE-free cookware completely. You can use the layered ones, given that the layers are massive and coated via spraying. After all, you can use the typical cookware for light dishes without putting yourself at risk.  

Did you know that PTFE was discovered in 1938 by accident by DuPont’s chemist Roy Plunkett?

Maria Kelley