Kitchen Chemistry: Teflon

How do non-stick pans work?


Pots and PansChemistry isn’t just in the food in your kitchen – there’s plenty in the pots and pans too!

Now if you have to do the washing up in your house, you’ll know it can be hard work scrubbing burnt-on pieces of food from pans.

The job is a lot easier if the pan has a non-stick coating. This is made of a material called PTFE or ‘polytetrafluoroethylene’. The molecules that make PTFE are long and rigid, and are made in a way that means other molecules won’t easily be able to join on – this gives them a slippery feel.

You may also know PTFE as Teflon and it’s such a helpful material that it’s not just found in pans – it’s even used in spacesuits! Do astronauts have to wash up in space?

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