A Comprehensive Guide To Non-Stick Cookware
Teflon, a non-stick coating brand owned by the company DuPont has become synonymous with non-stick coatings on cookware. However, not all non-stick coatings are Teflon and if you are wondering or not sure about the coating on your cookware, this guide will help you figure it out.
Non-stick coatings for cookware are typically flouropolymer plastic (PTFE) based or silicone based. Pots and pans are usually coated with PTFE coatings, while Silicone based coatings are mainly used in kitchen utensils and bakeware.
With the recent publicity about the safety of PTFE based non-stick cookware, there has been a spate of Ceramic based non-stick cookware on the market (also called ‘healthy cookware’ because ceramics are free of PTFE and PFOA).
Firstly, what is Teflon, PTFE and PFOA?
Teflon is the brand name for a plastic product called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) is another chemical that is used in the process of making PTFE. It is NOT the same as PTFE.
PFOA is burned off during the process and no significant amount remains in the final product. Previously, all nonstick coating manufacturers used PFOA in the manufacture of nonstick. However, PFOA is considered a pollutant and a toxic substance and now, under the stewardship of the Environmental Protection Agency, most of the reputable non-stick coating manufacturers are producing coatings made without PFOA. This includes Teflon.
So when you see a cookware advertising ‘PFOA’ free, it usually means the PTFE was made without the use of the chemical PFOA in the manufacturing process. [Tweet This!]
Is PTFE/Teflon safe?
Ordinarily, Teflon is an inert substance and even if a piece of nonstick flakes off and ends up inside you, it will simply pass through your system. You might be interested to know that because of its non reactive nature, Teflon is even used in joint replacements!
Only when it is heated to a high temperature like 500 degree F does Teflon start to deteriorate and release fumes which have been found harmful for birds and cause flu like symptoms in humans.
In ordinary use, pans are not usually heated to such a high temperature. So in a nutshell, yes, Teflon or PTFE is safe as long as you are diligent about not heating an empty pan or cooking on too high a temperature.
The objective here is not to take a stance for or against PTFE or Teflon. It is to provide information so you know what you are getting and can see through the marketing clutter of different manufacturers.
So in most cases:
- Unless it specifies ceramic or silicon based non-stick, non-stick cookware contains some form of PTFE or related plastic compound.
- When they say ‘it’s not Teflon’, they are right. Teflon is a brand name. But in most cases it will contain some form of PTFE. Yes, even Swiss Diamond.
- And when they say PFOA free, it means that particular chemical wasn’t used in the manufacture of PTFE. But it’s still PTFE.
If PTFE is a concern for you, there are several ceramic options available (see below). Keep in mind that ceramic based non-stick coatings have been found to be much less durable than plastic based coatings.
Update 2016: For our complete review of the safety and durability of Ceramic Coated Cookware, read our article Ceramic Coated Cookware Safety Secrets Noone Will Tell You.
Here is a list of nonstick coatings that your favorite brands are using.
1. Manufacturer: DuPont
Brand name of non-stick coating: Teflon
About the coating: DuPont’s line up of non-stick coatings in order of increasing price and durability is as follows. Also including popular brands that use it.
Teflon Classic – for occasional cooks who need convenience. 2 layer coating, minimum 25 micron thickness. Popular brands include Tramontina Everyday(R), Mainstays Non-Stick Cookware, IKEA KAVALKAD series and GRILLA grill pan.
Teflon Xtra – for convenience in regular use. 3 layer coating. Popular brands include Tramontina Select
Teflon Select – for busy cooks who need everyday durable performance. 3 layer coating, minimum 35 micron thickness. Popular brands include TeChef Art Pan, IKEA SKÄNKA series.
Teflon Platinum – for quality oriented avid cooks who use and abuse their cookware a lot. 3 layer coating, minimum 40 micron thickness. Popular brands include TeChef Blooming Flower fry pan or 11″ Wok
Teflon Platinum Plus – for avid cooks who want the ultimate in non-stick durability, scratch resistance and performance. 50% more scratch resistant than Teflon Platinum. Popular brands include IKEA 365+ and MEDALJ series.
Other special Teflon® coatings:
Teflon® with Radiance Technology – induction compatible, for busy, everyday cooks
Teflon® with Infinity Technology – for busy, everyday cooks
Teflon® ScratchGuard Ultra – scratch resistance for avid chefs
Teflon® Professional with MetalGuard – scratch resistance for avid chefs
Teflon® Professional – most durable nonstick coating, designed for professionals with high standards. Popular brands include IKEA FAVORIT and STIL series.
2. Manufacturer: DuPont
Brand name of non-stick coating: Autograph 2
About the coating: DuPont’s top of the line non-stick coating, designed for ultra durable performance and non-stick release.
3. Manufacturer: Whitford
Brand name of non-stick coating: Eterna
Popular Brands that use it: Cuisinart DSA-11 Dishwasher Safe Hard-Anodized Cookware
About the coating: Whitford’s highest quality non-stick coating. They claim it is the world’s longest lasting non-stick.
4. Manufacturer: Whitford
Brand name of non-stick coating: Excalibur
About the coating: Usually for stainless steel application.
5. Manufacturer: Whitford
Brand name of non-stick coating: Eclipse
About the coating: It is a reinforced coating, engineered to outlast all other reinforced coatings (according to the company) and is applied in 3 layers. Company gives it a 10 out of 10 overall rating.
6. Manufacturer: Whitford
Brand name of non-stick coating: QuanTanium
Popular Brands that use it: Cuisinart Hard Anodized Cookware
About the coating: Reinforced with titanium. Company gives it an 8 out of 10 rating.
7. Manufacturer: Whitford
Brand name of non-stick coating: Xylan
About the coating: For the budget cookware. Company gives it a 4-6 out of 10 rating.
1. Manufacturer: WEILBURGER Coatings Germany
Brand name of non-stick coating: Greblon
About the coating: Ceramic based non-stick coating
2. Manufacturer: Thermolon Corporation
Brand name of non-stick coating: Thermolon
About the coating: a ceramic type of coating that is based on Sol-Gel technology. Sol-Gel means materials formed from small inorganic (mineral) particles suspended in Solution that Gel together to form an inorganic matrix. Apart from being PTFE and PFOA free, it is highly temperature resistant (up to 450°C), no toxic fumes released when over-heated and is extremely hard.
3. Manufacturer: Wellman Engineering
Brand name of non-stick coating: EcoLon
Popular Brands that use it: NeoFlam
About the coating: a ceramic-glass reinforced Nylon coating.
Updated Aug 2020
Ceramic non-stick coating: Proprietary, read review here
About the coating: high performance ceramic based non-stick coating
For a more in-depth analysis of Ceramic coated non-stick cookware, click here
This list is by no means exhaustive and I will keep adding to it. So keep checking. Or let me know if there’s a particular set you are trying to figure out.
Caraway Cookware – Ceramic Coated “Cookware Without The Chemicals” (New- Jan 2020)
How to Choose the Best Cookware – 7 guidelines
What’s That Pan Made Of? A View Beyond The Marketing Clutter
What Everyone Needs to Know about Aluminum Cookware
3 Non-Stick Pan Alternatives
Disclosure: I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.