Cooking with Teflon: The Stickier Side of Non-Stick

Cooking with Teflon: The Stickier Side of Non-Stick

After cooking breakfast this morning, I decided that it may be time for some new pans. I did some Googling for "new pots and pans" and the algorithm's began flooding my feeds with every new teflon pan on the market. I should have specified stainless steel or cast iron as I prefer to cook with those, but for the sake of this blog, let's briefly dip our toes into the wondrous world of teflon.

The infamous non-stick coating that's been making our cooking lives easier since the 1940s, may not be as innocent as it seems. While it might make cleaning up a breeze, Teflon can cause quite a stir when heated to high temperatures.

When Teflon cookware is heated to around 572°F or 300°C and beyond (which is the equivalent of turning your stove's burner to the high setting), the non-stick coating begins to break down and releases toxic fumes into the air and into our food. If consumed or inhaled, the fumes can cause flu-like symptoms including headaches, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, exposure to Teflon fumes can lead to a condition called polymer fume fever, which is characterized by symptoms such as fever, chills, and chest tightness.

Not only does it release toxic fumes that can give you the flu (or even polymer fume fever), most Teflon products contain harmful chemicals like PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid). PFOA has been linked to a wide range of health problems when digested over time. Smaller issues can begin in a matter of weeks while more severe problems tend to occur after a few months or years. Some of these health problems include liver damage, developmental issues in fetuses, reduced ability for the immune system to fight infections and increased risk of certain cancers.

Additionally, the production and disposal of Teflon can have negative impacts on the environment. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a toxic chemical that is widey used in many Teflon products. When disposed of improperly, it contaminates both water and soil and can have lasting, harmful effects on their surrounding environments. PFOA is also highly resistant to degradation and over time, it causes extreme harm to wildlife and plants.

For example, when cooking with teflon, use extra caution if you're a bird-owner. The danger of breathing in teflon fumes can be lethal to your feathered friends. Birds have a unique, highly efficient respiratory system and are very sensitive to inhaled toxins or poisons. What's more, Tweetie doesn't have to be in the same room where items containing PTFE (Teflon) are being used for poisoning to occur. Sadly, sudden death may be the only sign of PTFE poisoning. Smaller birds, including parakeets, are considered to be the most sensitive to the effects of PTFE poisoning.

So, if you're looking to avoid the Teflon trap, perhaps it's time to consider switching to cast iron, stainless steel, or ceramic cookware. Your taste buds (and pet birds) will thank you.

For the record, it's important to to note that we don't look down on anyone who uses or prefers teflon. This blog is for informational purposes only. If you're using teflon products, we recommend cooking your food on a low to medium heat rather than high to avoid the risks. And if you notice your pan's are getting scratched up - it's a good idea to replace those badboys to avoid weird tastes and food contamination. But ultimately, it's up to you.

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