Teflon is a formula using – we won’t use it again – Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), and was discovered accidentally in 1938 by Roy J. Plunkett.
Plunkett was measuring the amount of gas used by the change of weight in the bottle he was using and when the bottle maintained its weight after releasing no more gas he was curious. On sawing the bottle open he discovered a waxy layer inside that was created through a reaction with the iron inside of the bottle and in 1945 Teflon was born.
Its initial use was a bit sinister, being used to coat parts as a part of the Manhattan Project (first nuclear weapons), because it was near impossible to corrode the substance. After the war, the compound was declassified and the general public was given access to the utopia of using non-stick products.
The compound consists of carbon and fluorine, the latter proving to have strong electronegative characteristics. In short, things don’t stick to it. PTFE is used by Teflon as the non-stick coating for their cookware, and boy did it make life so much simpler. It can become unhealthy if you cook at astoundingly high temperatures but if you are doing that then there are probably a few other things we should be concerned about.
PTFE is also used in pipes or containers to deal with some difficult chemicals and in some other cases as a lubricant. There are some medical uses, for example, frequent use in catheters to prevent bacteria from sticking to the pipes, we’ll stop there… let’s just say Teflon has saved many lives.
The only secret that has not yet been unstuck is how Teflon binds to the surface of pots and pans.