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We have an induction cooktop at home. We use a teflon pan from IKEA, roughly 24 cm in diameter. This pan is frequently used on level 7 of the induction stove. Based on limited measurement with an IR thermometer, I found out that this heats the pan to about 240 °C at least, and very likely past the 260 °C recommended limit since it often runs on this level for at least 10 minutes at a time.

I read that exceeding recommended temperatures causes the non-stick quality of the pan to degrade. I’ve also read that over a certain temperature (I think 300 °C), the Teflon may let out toxic fumes.

While the fumes are a concern in their own right, I wonder if future uses of the pan, even within the recommended temperature limits, could cause toxic chemicals to spill into the food that’s being cooked. This pan has definitely been overheated more than once, and I’d like to know about the health repercussions of this.

  • If you're worried, throw it out & buy a cast-iron skillet. – Tetsujin Aug 21 '19 at 17:43
  • You know, I assumed with all of our prior questions about teflon, this would already be answered, but no. So see my answer below. – FuzzyChef Aug 21 '19 at 19:13
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There is no current evidence that already-degraded PTFE (Teflon) poses any toxicity risks in its solid form. To quote the University of California School of Public Health:

There’s no evidence, however, that in­gesting any PTFE flakes that might have degraded from the pan’s surface over time poses any health risk, and the American Cancer Society notes that “Teflon itself is not suspected of causing cancer.” That makes sense, considering that PTFE is an inert substance, which means it doesn’t react with other chemicals.

Tibbs Bioscience says:

PTFE is inert in its solid form, meaning it won’t react with other chemicals, which is what makes it such as great non-stick coating. As such, the minimal PTFE you would ingest will likely pass through the digestive tract without harm.

Other sources I checked had the same answer. The fumes from overheating PTFE are known to be unhealthful; the solids left behind have no known issues.

Note that the same is not true of another chemical that used to be used in Teflon, PFOA. Again, per Tibbs:

After repeated heating and cooling, it is possible that the PFOA could migrate into the food. Research suggests that PFOA interferes with hormonal balances as well as reproduction and fetal development

The problems with PFOA have caused manfucturers to stop using it in Teflon production. However, if you have an older Teflon pan (pre-2013), it may still have PFOA, as might Teflon pans outside the US and EU.

  • Great answer. I suppose this means you should only truly be wary of being exposed to the fumes, and I imagine the pan also needs to get a fair bit hotter than the recommended limit of 260 °C – Gabriele Cirulli Aug 23 '19 at 9:59

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