What the Heck are PTFEs? A Closer Look into the Health and Environmental Hazards of PTFEs

March 01 2022
Polytetrafluoroethylene scientific diagram


The name itself is scary. It’s no surprise that polytetrafluoroethylene, known as PTFE, contains chemicals that harm the environment.

First, what exactly is a PTFE? It’s a tough, waxy appearing synthetic resin. It’s the core ingredient of Teflon coatings, and other similar non-slip trademarked products used in cookware.

It’s also present in various oils and lubricants, as the same properties that keep your Denver omelet from sticking also aid the performance of some lubricants. It sounds like a scientific marvel and super-useful product, until you read about the dangers.

The Dangers of PTFEs

Read the warning label on a spray can of lubricant you might use for your bike chain. You’ll see alarming words and phrases like “harmful” along with “dangerous to aquatic life” or the lovely “may cause lung damage.” A product with an abundance of such warnings doesn’t seem safe for you, or the environment.

And with a bike chain lubricant, much of the actual product spins off into the air and on the ground, exposing every chipmunk or little kid along the trail or road. Concerning thoughts when you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint and get some exercise. 

PTFEs And PFOAs…What??

PTFEs used in cookware under the Teflon name do create a shiny non-slip surface. However, until the past few years, another dangerous chemical called PFOA was released from the pans during cooking, especially at high temperatures.

PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, is known as a “forever chemical.” It remains indefinitely in the environment, and is absorbed by various organisms, including humans. There’s also concerns about cancer risks and PFOA exposure, with not enough research done looking at the long-term effects. PFOA is found in various lubricants, and also lurks in surprising places such as microwave popcorn bags. Shocking, we know!

Products without PTFEs and PFOAs

So, how can an adventurous, outdoors-oriented person keep their gear lubricated and performing optimally without PTFE and PFOA exposure? We’ve got a pretty rad solution in Gear Hugger, our plant-powered lubricant that’s high-performing but gentle on the planet.

Here at Gear Hugger, we love our bikes, tents, climbing equipment, and everything else you own that keeps you having fun in the outdoors. So if our product didn’t perform, we’d kick it out of our garages. Gear Hugger offers multiple benefits:
  • Outperforms traditional lubricants with 3X the lubricating power of leading brands
  • Does not contain any PTFEs or other potentially harmful chemicals
  • Keeps your gear working longer (so you reduce waste)