How does induction cooking work and what type of metal works best for an induction stove top? We got the answers for you.
If you search the term "induction cooking," your search results will display a series of mind-boggling images. The pictures show frying pans, which have been sliced in half, cooking an egg or melting a bar of chocolate. The strange thing about these images (yes, even odder than half-moon frying pans) is that the portion of egg or chocolate resting directly on the induction burner remains uncooked or unmelted. In other words, the food outside of the pan mysteriously stays cool.
So, How Does Induction Cooking Work?
Unlike a standard gas or electric range, which uses visible thermal conduction (flame or an electric burner), an induction stovetop uses electromagnetism to transfer heat. Inside an induction burner, electricity runs through a copper coil and creates an electromagnetic field (the same technology found in radios, and microwaves).
Alone, this electromagnetic field does nothing. When paired with compatible cookware, however, the electromagnetism excites the molecules in your pan and transfers heat energy from the stovetop to the pan and, finally, to your food. As a result of induction cooking's use of electromagnetism, only pans made from a magnetic metal (ferromagnetic) are compatible with induction cooking.
What Type of Cookware Will Work on an Induction Cooking Surface?
Stainless steel multi-ply cookware is comprised of bonded metal. These layers of metal feature a group of core layers sandwiched between two outer layers. The outer layers are made from a substance that creates a food-friendly, non-reactive surface. The inner layers are made from a metal that features quick, efficient and even heat distribution.
For your pot or pan to be compatible with induction cooking, it must have at least some iron in its core or include magnetic stainless steel. Your pot or pan can be one of the highest quality cookware brands available with 3-ply, 5-ply or even 7-ply construction, but if it has a 100% copper, 100% non-magnetic stainless steel or a 100% aluminum core, then it will not work on an induction burner because it cannot interact with an induction burner's electromagnetic field.
How to Test Your Quality Cookware for a Magnetic Field
Using a standard refrigerator magnet, you can quickly test all of your quality cookware pieces to determine whether or not they are compatible with induction cooking. Simply hold up your pot or pan and place a magnet on the bottom of the outer surface. If you are holding an induction-compatible piece, then its magnetism will either repel or attract the magnet. If your pot or pan is not compatible with induction cooking, then you will feel no interaction between the magnet and the surface of the cookware. Test it with a stainless steel stock pot and a ceramic dutch oven to feel the difference.
What Are the Benefits of Induction Cooking?
- Efficiency - Due to the ambient nature of gas and electric range stovetops, they lose lots of heat to the air. Radiant heat is expensive and a waste of energy. Induction ranges only transfer heat to ferromagnetic surfaces (your induction-compatible cookware), which means no wasted energy.
- Safety - Induction stovetops are incredibly safe. Since they only heat magnetic surfaces, induction burners stay cool to the touch, eliminating accidental burns. You also do not have to worry about ruining a glass lid on a hot burner or starting a fire with a non-magnetic object.
- Easy to Clean - Electric and gas ranges, which feature drip pans beneath burners, are not simple to maintain. A smooth sheet of glass ceramic covers induction stovetops, however, making them incredibly easy to clean with a single swipe.
Induction cooking paired with high-quality cookware delivers evenly distributed heat, ensuring your food is done to perfection every time you cook at home.