Are there any non-stick coatings other than PTFE based?
Other than PTFE, non-stick for cookware is either silicone based or ceramic/enamel based. Silicone, a synthetic rubber that contains bonded silicon and oxygen, is used mainly in bake ware and kitchen utensils. Ceramic or enamel coated cookware has gained popularity in recent years as "green" or "healthy cookware" because it is free of the chemicals PTFE and PFOA. Gastreaux has produced its own “green” range cookware known as Gastreaux Ceramic Range which is free from both PTFE and PFOA.

What is PFOA?
PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) is another chemical that is used in the process of making PTFE. It is NOT the same as PTFE.
PFOA is typically burned off during the process and only and insignificant amount remains in the finished product. Previously, all non-stick coating manufacturers used PFOA in the manufacture of non-stick. However, PFOA is considered a pollutant and a toxic substance and now, under the stewardship of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most of the reputable non-stick coating manufacturers are producing coatings made without PFOA since 2013 and completely phased out in 2015.

So when you see "PFOA free" in the marketing message of a piece of cookware, it simply means that the chemical PFOA was not used in the manufacturing process of the non-stick coating, which is usually PTFE or a related plastic compound.

Is PTFE/Teflon safe?
There has been a lot of debate about this recently so this warrants some attention.
Under normal circumstances, PTFE is an inert substance and even if you ingest a piece that flaked off from your pan, it will simply pass through your body. As a point of interest, because of its non-reactive nature, PTFE even finds use as a medical material in arterial grafts, catheters, sutures, joint replacements and reconstructive and cosmetic facial surgery!

However, when it is heated to a high temperature like 260°C, PTFE starts deteriorating and releasing 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, PTFE or Teflon is safe as long as you are diligent about not heating an empty pan or cooking on too high a temperature. Remember, never let your non-stick pan on too high heat without adding sufficient lubricant (i.e. oil, butter, etc.) to it. 

What determines the quality of a non-stick coating?
The quality of a non-stick coating is defined by 3 things: the quality of the coating itself (the formula), the number of layers and the thickness of the layers. 3 layers is the minimum for a good quality pan with a cookware brand even offering 7 layers. It shall be noted that the addition of more layer will increase the price quite significantly.

How do I take care of my non-stick cookware?
Non-stick cookware should be treated with care to preserve its non-stick coating. Here are some general instructions to prolong the life of your non-stick cookware:
1. Always use plastic, wooden or rubber utensils during cooking to maximize the life of any non-stick cookware.
2. Clean with warm soapy water and a soft sponge or wash cloth. No abrasive metal cleaners.
3. Cook on low to medium heat. High heat can cause foods to stick as well as breakdown the non-stick coating.
4. Don't use cooking spray as it burns at lower temperatures and can burn into the non-stick coating causing build up of the spray. This will cause sticking and damage to the non-stick coating and sometimes give the cookware a "rusty" appearance.
5. Pans should be washed after every use so food residue is not allowed to build up, which will, after time, cause sticking and damage the non-stick coating.
6. Even if a non-stick pan says dishwasher safe, it is always recommended to wash it by hand.
7. Cool your pans after cooking before placing in water.
8. Don't store food in non-stick pans.
9. And lastly, replace your pan if the coating is visibly deteriorating.


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