Geckos can climb anything. Anything that is except Teflon… Or is it PTFE?

If you have been doing your research, you have probably noticed that one rarely gets mentioned without the other.

So are they synonymous? Or different types of the same thing? What can Teflon be used for that PTFE can’t? What is PTFE vs. Teflon?

In the manufacturing and industrial world, you really can’t get too far without at least having a base understanding of what PTFE is. To do that, you should start by getting a better understanding of how it relates to Teflon.

Read on to learn more!

PTFE vs. Teflon

Teflon is a household name. Everyone knows that it coats your cookware to keep food from sticking while you cook. That much is obvious.

But what the heck is PTFE and how is it different from Teflon. If you have heard of PTFE then you know by now that the two substances are at the least similar.

What is PTFE vs. Teflon? Are they different and if so, how?

What is Polytetrafluoro Ethylene?

PTFE is a synthetic polymer compound. It is a solid made of carbon and fluorine. Free radicals polymerize with tetrafluoroethylene to create the amazing substance, Polytetrafluoro Ethylene.

The high melting point of PTFE makes it difficult to produce. Even when melting occurs, the consistency of the polymer is closer to gel than it is to water.

PTFE is usually white in appearance and very slippery. This is how it looked in 1938 when DuPont chemist Roy J. Plunkett discovered it by accident.

What is Teflon?

Teflon is the brand name given to PTFE. Kinetic Chemicals trademarked the term in 1945. Kinetic Chemicals is a partnership company between DuPont and General Motors.

Today, the Chemours, a 2015 offshoot of DuPont, owns the trademark.

Why is PTFE called Teflon?

Why is white glue so often called Elmer’s whether it comes from the famous company or not? Why is clear tape referred to as Scotch tape even when it is a product of Bostik?

It’s a brand!

People don’t know what that poly-whats-it thing is, but they sure know that Teflon literally saved their bacon this morning. Just like they know Elmer helped their kid make art and Scotch hung it on the fridge.

Companies know making merchandise a household name is key to making it a household product. No one is going to walk into the store and ask for a curling iron with Polytetrafluoro Ethylene plates. But, they will ask for one that is Teflon plated.

As a company, DuPont was smart enough to realize this. And so in 1945, they came up with a name for their new discovery that would roll off the tongue.

There are other brands of PTFE, of course: Daikin-Polyflon, Fluon, and Dyneon, to name a few. Have you ever heard of any of those brands?

Let’s put it this way. You aren’t reading any articles about the differences between PTFE and Fluon, are you?

What are PTFE’s Properties?

Teflon Polytetrafluoroethylene has many unique properties that make it both versatile and useful.

Coefficient of Friction

The coefficient of friction is the measurement of how much friction a substance generates against polished steel. PTFE has the third lowest coefficient of Friction of any substance known to man!

This means Teflon PTFE generates very slippery and causes very little friction.

High Melting Point

At room temperature, PTFE looks solid and white. This is how the substance first appeared to Plunckett when he first discovered it. Chemours puts Teflon’s melting point at 600K which is the same as 327 degrees C or 620 degrees F.

It also does well at lower temperatures down to 5 K. This equates to -268 degrees C or -450 degrees F.

Water Resistant

Pick up a non-stick Teflon coated frying pan and put a few drops of water in it. Notice the way the water beads up. Now do the same thing in a regular pan and watch it spread out.

See the difference? Water beads on the surface of PTFE coated materials because it has a natural resistance to water.


Unlike many materials, Teflon does not react much at all to most corrosive substances. This makes it ideal for use with pipes, valves, and seals that carry caustic gasses and liquids.

Even the Manhattan Project used Teflon to coat the inner workings of nuclear bombs to prevent Uranium leaks.

What is PTFE used for?

A better question might be, “What is PTFE not used for?” But we will stick to the original one for now. So, what is PTFE used for?

Teflon’s low friction rate makes it a perfect candidate for lubricating heavy machinery and ball bearings. It can even reduce damage to gun barrels when firing brass bullets.

PTFE’s heat resistance and non-stick qualities are why people turned to it for cookware. Though, its propensity for breaking down and chipping does have its drawbacks.

Teflon PTFE’s water-resistant properties mean it gets used in plumbers tape. Even clothes get treated with PTFE to make them waterproof. Think about lawn furniture. It is often made watertight through applications of Teflon.

The neatest applications for PTFE are in the medical field. Since it is non-reactive and waterproof, catheters get coated in PTFE. This blocks bacteria and prevents infection.

When necessary, it is also used as a graft material in surgical procedures. PTFE is a pretty much a wonder Polymer.

Teflon is PTFE

Or at least it is the most well-known name brands for PTFE. So we learned today that it doesn’t matter if you call it PTFE vs. Teflon. In the end, they are both the same thing.

Please note, if you plan to sell Chemours Teflon products, you should consider getting a license to brand your items as Teflon(TM). You can request an application for that here.

If you have other questions about PTFE and how it relates to Teflon, you are always welcome to contact us.

You can also take a look at the things we recommend asking during a Consultation for Teflon Coating. When you are ready for the consultation, let us know!

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