PTFE/Teflon and Why it's bad

IndySE

Member
May 5, 2016
410
9
Southern California
Parrots
Kermit, ♀ GCC (Green Demon)
I wanted to share this tidbit of information I acquired today at - funny enough - work of all places.

The kind of work I do essentially requires me to know a lot about bad chemicals, where the bad chemicals tend to be, and how do we get the bad chemicals out. We mention different substances in meetings and today we came to the topic of PTFE - which is the chemical name for the common trade name teflon. They even specifically mentioned the anecdotal stories about bird-death associated with it.

Teflon is commonly attributed as a big no-go for parrot owners, but is something we take for more word of mouth. I've heard some weird explanations about the coating getting scratched and fluorines flying off into the air - but it never made any sense to me as a valid chemical pathway.

What is actually happening is that PTFE, if set at the wrong temp or for too long, is burning. And burning plastic releases carbon monoxide fumes, which of course is toxic to birds. Most cooking uses will "probably" not burn the plastic (it needs to be 500 F which is higher than most cooking temps) - HOWEVER given that no one is cooking with a temperature probe on their cooking surface, it makes sense why parrot-owners take the conservative route when the cost of misjudgment is so high.

Another funny thing about PTFE - is it's used EVERYWHERE and not harmful at all if away from a heat source. It's fairly inert. It's even used in medical implants. It's simply how it is used that is problematic for our avian friends. Technically the same issue would exist in any plastics where the temperature is near to its burning temperature.

Anyways passing along the science-side for anyone who doesn't know or is simply curious :green2:
 

SailBoat

Supporting Member
Jul 10, 2015
15,024
1,784
Western, Michigan
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DYH Amazon
Thank you for adding clarity to this killers method.

Carbon monoxide fumes are deadly, no question and there is likely part of that in the mix that is kill Parrots and Humans, especially Humans with COPD and like breathing issues.

The how PTFE/Teflon transitions from a solid to a gas occurs below 500 degrees F is that flakes gas at lower temperature than the bulk of the coating.

It is very important to remember that as part of any cooking, carbon monoxide fumes occur. When one compares cooking with cast iron pans commonly more carbon monoxide fumes results, yet dead is not common. Then a pan coated with PTFE/Teflon is used, especially if the surface is damaged, death occurs.

Not disagreeing with your statement, only adding a bit more clarity.

Thank You!
 

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