How It Works

Teflon explained

Teflon is made from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and is used to coat cooking pans giving them wonderful non-stick properties. PTFE is composed of carbon and fluorine atoms which form very strong chemical bonds with each other. Fluorine atoms also have the highest electronegativity of any element, meaning the overall electrical forces, known as van der Waals forces, cause compounds containing fluorine to repel any other atoms that come near.

The fluorocarbon molecule is structured in a way that the fluorine atoms surround the carbon atoms so no other outside atoms can get anywhere near the carbon to react with it. For this reason Teflon is highly unreactive causing it to have a very low coefficient of friction, allowing things slide across its surface very easily. Due to PTFE’s reluctance to react with anything, it is also used to coat containers of highly reactive chemicals and, interestingly, is the only known surface that a gecko can’t stick to.