Why does nothing stick to Teflon? (Persian subtitle)
Teflon is the trade name of polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE, which was discovered by accident by Roy Plunkett, a 27-year-old American chemist. Roy was trying to produce a non-toxic refrigerant for his company, but during the experiments he suddenly noticed the formation of a strange white substance. However, it was later found that what was produced was an inert substance, meaning it did not react with other substances. Apart from this feature, this newly discovered material did not have any friction, and if we did see friction in some cases, its amount was very small, so all materials slide smoothly and easily on it.
Why is Teflon known as one of the most slippery and non-sticky materials?
Generally, the slippery property of PTFE comes from its molecular structure. In fact, this material is made of long chains of repeating sets of atoms that are tightly bonded together. Such materials are called polymers. It is interesting to know that this chain has carbon atoms as the backbone of the PTFE structure, and each carbon atom is connected to a pair of fluorine. In fact, fluorines form something like armor by spiraling around the carbon chain, which creates a strong bond between carbon and fluorine. The interaction between carbon and fluorine atoms is almost rigid, therefore, other intermolecular forces have practically no chance of sticking to these molecules.
If Teflon doesn't stick to anything, how does it stick to the pan?
In order to attach a Teflon coating, the pan is sandblasted or etched with chemicals to make it rough enough. After this, a unique primer (almost similar to glue) is poured on the pan, the method of which is usually secret. After this step, PTFE is sprayed on the pan and then heated to about 500 degrees F. This process can be important because the layer on the pan is very smooth and like a solid coating on the intended product. So when you cook an egg in a Teflon pan, the intermolecular forces between carbon and fluorine atoms ignore the water, fat and protein molecules.
Can scratchy Teflon cookware threaten human health?
Cooking all kinds of food on Teflon pans or containers is completely safe, as long as you are very careful. At moderate temperatures, PTFE is stable and safe, but once the cookware temperature exceeds 500F during cooking, it will eventually degrade the coating. When the pan heats up more, unpleasant fumes are released that can cause nausea and poisoning in humans. It is also necessary to know that since Teflon practically cannot react with other substances, if it accidentally enters your body, it will be eliminated and there will be no danger for you.
- 10 shocking scientific news during The last hundred years