Teflon is commercial name for polymer PTFE. PTFE is abbreviation of polytetrafluoroethene a saturated fluorocarbon polymer, which was discovered by Roy Plunkett, a 27-year-old research chemist working at the Du Pont Research Laboratories in New Jersey in year 1938 & like many great invention it was accidentally created.
Teflon has many industrial and domestic applications. It is third most slippery substance & has high resistance to corrosive acids, even if they were hot it did not dissolve in solvents. It could be cooled to -240°C without becoming stiff and brittle & it could be heated to 260°C without impairing its performance. Teflon could be heated to over 500°C without burning or charring. It can compete with noble metals gold & platinum in it’s no-reaction nature in fact, teflon is attacked only by molten sodium or fluorine gas under pressure.
BAM (Aluminium Magnesium Boride) ranks first & diamond-like carbon is second most slippery substance.
- Non stick frying pan (Yup! It’s the slippery black coating)
- For wiring in aerospace and computer applications (e.g. hookup wire, coaxial cables)
- As a non-mechanical AFD (Anti-Friction Device)
- Lubricant (many bicycle lubricants contain PTFE and are used on chains and other moving parts)
- It is used widely as a fabric protector to repel stains from our favourite formals.
- Liquid form of teflon is readily available in market for coating glasses, specs and wiper blade etc for scratch proofing.
PTFE is no Angel
Teflon (PTFE) has been proven to have deadly effects on animals. It has been proven that humans have elevated levels of it in their blood. It may cause cancer and birth defects. The EPA says its not safe but refuses to ban it. The fumes from teflon during normal use, kills birds. A few minutes on stove top can exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases, same fumes are associated in deaths of birds & animals.
Teflon when used in proper manner can be a very useful, in improper use it is no less than poison.