Are frying pans poisonous? When the coating can cause fever

Frying pans coated with plastic are inexpensive, easy to clean and hardly anything sticks to the bottom. What hardly anyone suspects: If the heat is too high, the Teflon pans can even trigger fever and serious respiratory diseases.
Teflon, the supposed miracle material from space exploration, is actually not a chemical substance but just a trade name. In fact, Teflon is the plastic polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE for short). According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, PTFE is a plastic polymer that is resistant to cold, heat and chemicals and is used under various names for non-stick coatings on cooking, roasting and baking dishes, among other things.
PTFE-coated pans, baking molds and other cookware are characterized by a slightly waxy surface. The water- and fat-repellent properties prevent food from sticking when heated in PTFE-coated cookware.

Coated Frying Pans: See all offers on Amazon

Teflon fever: Too much heat destroys the coating

Caution (too) hot: It gets really dangerous from 360 degrees


Tableware coated with PTFE must not be overheated because, according to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, the polymer can begin to decompose at temperatures of around 360 degrees Celsius and – without the development of smoke (!) – toxic substances are released into the ambient air.
The consequences can be flu-like symptoms such as fever or severe respiratory diseases. Polymer fever, also known as polymer fume fever or Teflon fever, is caused by toxic combustion products of fluoropolymers. Tableware coated with PTFE should therefore never be heated to high temperatures when empty. Particular care should be taken with induction and gas stoves, as they can heat up very quickly.
The probability of actually reaching such high temperatures when cooking or frying is rather low. Because the food used would "burn" beforehand. However, cases have been documented in which, for example, a forgotten frying pan on the hot stove had serious health consequences.

Shop recommendation for pans

Schulte-Ufer pan 28 cm Charisma black

Tefal Jamie Oliver pan, stainless steel, induction, outside silver-colored / inside black Ø 24 cm
Gefu 89257 BBQ grill bowl (stainless steel, coating: none)
Karl Krüger Rustica steak pan 28 x 28 cm pan, product type: steak pan, diameter in cm: 28

Fissler Protect Steelux Premium pan 24 cm

Tefal G11519 Wok Pan, Black

Lodge cast iron grill pan 26 cm round

Tefal CeramicControl White frying pan, induction, white Ø 24 cm
Tefal Jamie Oliver braising pan, stainless steel, induction, outside silver-colored / inside black Ø 25 cm

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Pan buyers value coating

Graphic: Statista

"Teflon pans" are among the most popular kitchen utensils. Be honest: If you open your kitchen drawers, you'll almost certainly find at least one non-stick frying pan there. This is also supported by the results of a survey by the pan manufacturer Tefal. When a manufacturer like Tefal initiates and publishes a survey on consumer wishes, it doesn't happen without ulterior motives. Still, last year's results provide an interesting insight into where shoppers' priorities lie.
For the survey (see Statista chart), almost 2,000 consumers were asked which criteria were most important to them when buying a pan (multiple answers were possible). For almost half of those surveyed (47 percent), the coating was the most important purchase criterion. 42 percent of the participants named the scratch resistance as a decisive factor in their purchase and around a third (36 percent) are apparently not willing to invest more than 50 euros in the purchase of a pan.

Coated Frying Pans: See all offers on Amazon

Coat frying pans in the test

Coated pans are particularly useful if you want to cook with very little fat. Here you need almost no or very little oil for frying. That's good for your health. And even delicate foods such as crêpes or fish are better to fry in a non-stick pan. The coating prevents the fried food from sticking and being turned gently.
But a frying pan is not just a frying pan. There are sometimes significant differences in quality between the individual models. Our partner AllesBeste tested 19 coated pans between 15 and 88 euros. AllesBeste tested no-name products as well as well-known brand models. In the following table we show you the best recommendations, the complete CHIP test report can be found here.

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