Teflon – Where it’s hiding and how to avoid it

by Elowen
Teflon – Where it’s hiding and how to avoid it

Teflon. You’ve probably seen your fair share of Teflon coated pans, but what even is it? Well, briefly, Teflon is a man-made compound made of carbon and fluorine and falls into the category of ‘forever’ chemicals.

First developed by a branch of DuPont in 1938 and like so many scientific discoveries, Teflon, which is the brand name of this tongue-twister of a chemical, Polytetrafluoroethylene (also knowns as PTFEs), was created/discovered by accident.

After initial scientific uses, including in the Manhattan Project, Teflon first hit the commercial market in the U.S. in the early 1960’s in ‘The Happy Pan’.

Between now and then Teflon has found it’s way into many, many areas of our homes. But is that a problem? Heck yes, it is! This nasty chemical has been linked to so many health issues, for both humans and animals. I’m not going to go into all of that because it’s already been well documented by others, even in a 2019 film ‘Dark Waters’. But suffice to say, you don’t want this stuff inside of you, so you want to minimise your contact with it, and that’s what I’m going to help you with.

For a more comprehensive list you can look at the Wikipedia page for polytetrafluoroethylene, but I’m focusing on in-home items.


  • Non-stick pans, saucepans, and woks
    • This is the first thing that’s likely to come to mind when I say Teflon. You know them, you’ve seen them everywhere. Don’t use them, they’re not good for you and your family, or your pets! Instead, opt for cast iron, stainless steel, or ceramic or enamel coated. Now, most of these options cost a good deal more than the old Teflon ones from the supermarket, but that’s because all these other options actually last, for years and years! If you have to use your Teflon coated pans, only do so on the lowest heat setting on your stove, and never use them once the coating has been compromised, by scratches or peeling.
  • Baking trays, cake tins, muffin pans, and grease-proof paper
    • Here’s a great excuse to go op (thrift) shopping and pick up some old cake tins and do away with all those non-stick ones in your cupboard! Opt for stainless steel, or my personal favourite, copper! Just make sure you grease them nicely with butter or margarine, then flour them for the ultimate non-stick tin! As for the grease-proof (or parchment) paper, look for ones that are greener, biodegradable, and preferably clear about what’s in them.
  • Jaffle makers, sandwich presses, waffle makers, rice cookers and some plug-in slow cookers and woks
    • When purchasing these sorts of items, try to find ones that aren’t non-stick coated, such as slow cookers with ceramic inserts.
  • Microwave Popcorn Bags
    • Yeah, this one is disappointing for me, too, but it’s healthier to make pop-corn in a pot, instead.


  • Hair straighteners and curling irons
    • Always check when purchasing these items to ensure they’re ceramic or stainless steel.
  • Dental floss
    • You still have to floss, but opt for ones listed as ‘natural’ or get to grips with a water pick!
  • Waterproof mascara
    • Not all brands, but many waterproof cosmetics include Teflon. Check your brand’s label, and opt for ones that aren’t waterproof and are transparent about their ingredients.


  • Carpets and couches
    • When purchasing new carpets or furniture never allow the use of scotch guarding or stain repellents, as this is essentially a Teflon coating.
  • Irons and ironing board covers
    • Again, do your research and ensure that any iron or ironing board cover you buy is not non-stick! It’s becoming increasingly common for irons to have this coating, so do your research before purchasing because there are Teflon free options out there!
  • Certain lightbulbs
    • This one isn’t super common, but steer clear of any that say ‘non-stick’ or PTFEs


  • Waterproof clothing
    • This is often found in raincoats, so check your labels or better yet, opt for wool coats that are naturally water repellent! Or use an umbrella!
  • Children’s School Uniforms
    • Now this one ticks me right off. Steer very clear of any uniforms with ‘stain repellents’ or the like, because as with your carpets and furniture, this is a Teflon coating. Always look for natural fibre uniforms for your little ones, they’re SO much better for them!


  • Stain repellent car seat coating
    • You know the drill by now, just say no to the coating!
  • Waterproofing decking sealants
    • Make sure you go for natural sealants, so you can avoid those with Teflon in them.

As I mentioned before, this isn’t a fully comprehensive list, and it’s a good idea to go and check that Wikipedia page or do some research of your own, because this stuff really isn’t good for you and with a little extra effort you can avoid inviting it into your home.

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