If you have been around a kitchen or watched cooking shows, you probably are familiar with the term Teflon. While you might know that Teflon is what gives that “non-stick” pan it’s non-stickiness, many people have no idea what Teflon actually is or how it is used outside of frying pans.
Teflon is actually the best known brand name of PTFE-based formulas. DuPont actually discovered PTFE by accident while trying to make a new refrigerant. PTFE is a thermoplastic polymer that is white and solid at room temperature and has a melting point of over 600 degree Fahrenheit. The substance is widely used across dozens of industries.
Teflon pans are frying pans that are coated with a black substance that gives the pans their “non-stick” properties. Most chefs and home cooks love the ability to cook chicken, eggs and other traditionally sticky foods without the foods sticking to the pan or needing excess butter or oils to prevent the foods from sticking to the pan. From experience, many home cooks simply use butter or extra virgin olive oil to prevent chicken or eggs from sticking to a pan, but a lot of households have Teflon pans or “non-stick” pans where butter and oil are not as needed.
PTFE is used in automotive and aerospace capacities due to its frictionless qualities. Because PTFE does not inhibit friction, highly viscous liquids have an improved flow. This is beneficial for applications like brake hoses and PTFE tubing.
PTFE is also highly resistant to corrosion, making PFTE extremely useful in laboratories. PTFE is used for lining various items such as containers, magnetic stirrers, and tubing. PFTE tubing is used for chemicals like hydrochloric acid because they are highly corrosive chemicals and will dissolve glass. Also, PTFE is used for lining containers that store superacids like fluoroantimonic acid.
Other Fun Facts About and Uses for PTFE
● Geckos are known for being able to climb virtually any substance. However, PTFE is the only known substance where this is not the case--geckos simply cannot stick to PTFE coated surfaces.
● PTFE does not “melt” like we think of it. It does not turn liquid, even at high temperatures. PTFE instead turns into a gel-like substance.
● Because PTFE can be used to repel stains on clothing like uniform blazers, it is also widely used as a fabric protectant.
● For plumbing applications, PTFE is commonly used in thread seal tape--which is also known as plumber’s tape.
● Dental fillings are often surrounded by PTFE tape (plumber’s tape) to help prevent the tooth from sticking to surrounding teeth.