DuPont began manufacturing Teflon-coated pans in the early 1960s. Teflon refers to the nonstick coating on pans that makes the cookware easy to cook with and clean. Teflon pans are safe for cooking as long as you use them properly. The chemicals used to make the nonstick coating can deteriorate when you expose the cookware to high oven temperatures. Placing a Teflon-coated pan in the oven that is not oven-safe can cause damage to the appliance, pan and your health.
According to DuPont, Teflon pans contain a coating that consists of polytetrafluouroethylene and fluoropolymers. Studies prompted by consumer concerns on the pans helped to determine their safety. The Environmental Protection Agency determined that the pans are safe for consumers under normal cooking temperatures. Exposing Teflon-coated pans to extremely high temperatures can result in the emission of toxic fumes.
Placing a Teflon-coated pan in the oven at a temperate above 500 degrees Fahrenheit can cause the coating to decompose. When the coating decomposes, it releases dangerous fumes. If you plan to use the pan in the oven, do not use it to broil food. Since broilers reach a high temperate to cook foods quickly, the heat can damage the pan and ruin the Teflon coating. Place the nonstick pans over low or medium heat to protect the coating. If you notice the food smoking or burning when you place it in the oven, remove it from the appliance immediately to prevent extensive damage to the cookware.
Before you place the Teflon-coated pan in the oven, inspect the pan's handle carefully. While the coating may be safe for the oven, the pan handle can contain plastic. Plastic handles are not safe for ovens because they can melt easily. Only place Teflon pans that contain stainless steel or silicone-coated handles in the oven, and always use pot holders to remove them from the appliance.
Proper care for Teflon pans helps protect the coating so that it does not peel off into your food. When you clean Teflon pans, never use abrasive sponges or steel wool. Cook with plastic spatulas or wood utensils because metal can scratch the Teflon coating. Protect the nonstick coating by placing a paper towel between the pans when you stack them. Never leave empty cookware on a hot burner or in the oven.