Since Teflon® cookware, the brand name for the first PTFE (“polytetrafluoroethylene”) cookware got a bad rap for being “toxic” and even “cancer-causing”, some makers of PTFE cookware have marketed their products in all sorts of ways that makes it hard to know what you’re buying. There are so many synonyms for PTFE on the market now, and so much marketing jargon to play down the actual composition of cookware, that it can be really hard to know what you’re buying.
This obfuscation, whether deliberate or not, has caused a great deal of problems for people who want to buy safe and healthy cookware. Our mission is to help people clarify the issues around nonstick cookware and understand the issues so they can buy the cookware that’s right for them.
Here are 6 common myths about nonstick cookware that can make it hard to buy well.
Myth #1: There Are Several Kinds of Nonstick Cookware
Fact: There are two kinds of nonstick cookware: PTFE and ceramic.
As already mentioned, PTFE cookware has been around since the 1960s and is popularly known as Teflon®. PTFE is a long chain hydrocarbon molecule — a type of plastic.
Hint: If the manufacturer refers to the coating as a “polymer” or “resin,” that’s a dead giveaway that it’s PTFE.
Ceramic cookware has been around since about 2008. It’s essentially made from sand, which is turned into a sol-gel, applied to cookware (usually aluminum), and baked to a hard finish.
There are several different brand names of ceramic nonstick, including the highly popular Greblon and Thermolon, but all are some type of sol-gel ceramic, and essentially the same (or very similar) molecular structure.
Both types of nonstick coatings can be reinforced with titanium particles, diamond dust, or other substances that make them somewhat tougher and longer-lived, and these can end up in the name (e.g., “titanium nonstick cookware”). But these materials are added to only two nonstick coatings: PTFE or ceramic.