What Are Induction Pans and Induction Compatible Cookware?

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Written By Aimee Nakazawa

Induction cooking is steadily gaining the popularity it deserves. Although not so much the newbie on the block, it’s still one of those things that seem to intimidate home cooks. Most cooks may shy away from an induction cooktop, maybe because they’re unsure how it works or whether their current pots and pans are compatible with induction ready cookware. So what are induction pans and pots? How does it work? And what is the best cookware for this cooktop surface?

We are here to bust a myth. The truth is, induction stoves are really not all that complicated, and you won’t have to lose your cookware collection. All you need for an induction cooking method are magnetic pots and pans. So let’s get into it.

How to Test Whether Your Cookware is Induction Ready?

The magnet test is one sure way to tell whether your cooking pan or pot is compatible with an induction stove top. Just hold a magnet at the bottom.

  • If the magnet sticks onto it, your cookware will work perfectly on an induction cooktop
  • If the magnet softly clings to it, then it might not be the best for your cooktop, and you might need to get induction cookware
  • If there’s no pull from the magnet, then it means that your pots and pans don’t contain the right metals and won’t generate heat energy

PS: Nowadays, more manufacturers put an ‘Induction compatible’ symbol at the bottom of their cookware or on the packaging. The induction logo often looks like a coil or a horizontal zig-zag as a symbol.

Cookware Materials that Work with Induction Hobs

  • Cast-iron pots and pans
  • Stainless steel pans and cookware
  • Magnetic stainless steel cookware
  • Ceramic-clad cookware
  • Enameled pots with an iron pan within its ceramic layer

Cookware Materials that Won’t Work with Induction Hobs

  • Aluminum
  • Glass
  • Copper pans (Unless they have a magnetic material layer at the bottom)

What Are Pan Adapters?

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If you have an induction cooking surface, but don’t have induction-ready cookware, then you can use pan adapters. This stainless steel adapter plate and induction hob heat diffuser is a good example.

It can be placed underneath your cookware instead of placing your cookware directly onto the heat source. The magnetic metal on it is induction ready, so from the heating reaction, it will then heat the contents in your pot. It can also be used on regular gas stoves or electric cooktops.

How Does Induction Cooking Work?

The science behind it is pretty simple. Instead of using the regular flame or an electrical current as you would in electric cooking, induction cooking heats up your induction-ready cookware using magnetic induction.

For your pots and pans to work with induction cooktops, they must be made using a magnetic material. Unlike other heating methods, induction heating needs a magnetic metal on the cooking vessel to induce electrons.

The cooktop has a coiled copper wire underneath the ceramic glass surface. When an alternating current from an induction cookware passes through induction, an electrical energy is transferred from these wires to the cooking vessel.

The cooking vessel needs to contain high ferrous metal content for it to be ferromagnetic. The ferromagnetism creates a dynamic magnetic field between the coil and the induction cookware. These electrons move to create heat on the cooking surface for cooking. Through this process, the magnetic coils produce heat onto your pan.

This is why you need a magnetic pot. Just place cookware that’s magnetic on your cooktop and leave the rest to the magnetic field to do its job. It generates heat through electrical resistance. For optimal heat distribution, the best cookware tends to contain a copper core.

Generally, induction cooktops are safe. They produce heat evenly with energy efficiency in cooking, where only the pot heats up. The rest of the burner that’s not in contact with the cookware doesn’t heat up, so there’s very little risk of getting any burns. This is a great alternative if you have kids around.

What’s the Difference Between Induction Cooktops and Regular Tops?

Regular stovetops produce flames or electrical heat to heat pots and pans on contact through thermal conduction. On the other hand, induction cooktops don’t generate flames. Instead, induction burners have a coiled wire just below the ceramic surface, which generates an oscillating magnetic field.

In induction cooktops, the key is to have pots and pans that are made from a magnetic materials. The induction cooktop induces electrons to move and create an electric current. Through this current, it heats the pot. Placing your hand or glass pot on your induction cooktop will not heat up the induction burner, making it a much safer option to use in a home with children.

What Are the Benefits of An Induction Cooktop?

  • Induction burners offer a safer option for and the kids- plus, you’re also less likely to accidentally melt anything placed on an induction burner you just used.
  • Induction cooktops are increasingly becoming popular since a lot of people prefer induction cooktops instead of the regular gas and electric burners
  • Induction cooktops are more energy-efficient than gas or electric cooktops because of the reduced spread of heat to where it’s not needed
  • The smooth surface is also easier to clean
  • They have faster heating
  • They’re more responsive to temperature control changes

What Should You Know About Induction Cooktops?

a) Induction Cooktop Energy-efficiency

  • Induction cooking heats your pan using a magnetism instead of a flame as you would on a gas cooktop or electric stove
  • An induction stovetop heats up the entire bottom of your pan, so there’s no need to try and fit your pan on your burner; plus, there’s no heat wastage
  • Induction cooking has been proved to be 60% more energy-efficient compared to a gas stovetop since a gas stovetop uses a lot of the flame that ends up heating around the pan instead of your cookware bottom
  • Induction cooking beats cooking on an electric cooktop in efficiency by roughly 40%
  • Unlike other electric cooktops, you won’t have to worry about needing a power supply in the kitchen while using an induction cooking surface

b) Induction Cooktop Safety Measures

  • Since the rest of the cooking surface doesn’t get hot, neither you nor your curious youngsters can get burnt
  • Since the rest of the surface doesn’t get hot, when food or sauce splatters on the cooking surface, it doesn’t burn, so its easier to clean up

c) Induction Cooktop Cook Speed

  • Induction cooktops heat quickly compared to gas or electric tops; this helps save energy as well. For instance, a 12,000-BTU gas burner will take 36 minutes to boil 5 gallons of water, while a 1,800-watt induction hob will take only 22 minutes in boiling water.PS: 1 Watt = 3.4 BTUs

    So even in absolute terms, induction heating is still faster

  • Induction cookers have precise temperature control that responds immediately to the temperature adjustments, so lowering the heat will give you results right away, unlike gas stoves
  • You also get more precise control over the cooking temperature and power levels since the cooktop temperature matches that of the cooking vessel

d) Requirements of An Induction Cooktop

  • Induction cooktops can only work with induction-compatible kitchenware that’s made from ferromagnetic metals (where magnet sticks to it), for example, stainless steel pots or cast ironPS: Aluminum, glass, or ceramic cookware doesn’t work with an induction stove
  • The cookware should have a flat bottom that’s almost the same size as the burner’s surface area for even heating and efficiency in heat transfer

Frequently Asked Questions on Induction Pans

1. What happens if a normal pan is used on an induction hob?

Since the hob is built to sense magnetism for the pan to heat up. So, since there’s no magnetic field created when a normal pan is put on an induction hob, nothing will happen.

2. Is an electric hob the same as an induction hob?

An induction hob does work similarly to an electric hob, but instead, it has coils beneath to induce electrical currents through induction and magnetism and therefore generate heat. Additionally, it uses less power and remains cold until you place your pan or cookware on it.


Image credit: standard.co.uk

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About the author

Aimee Nakazawa

Aimee Nakazawa is a writer, photographer, cookbook author, and most importantly, she is the cook that prepares all scrumptious recipes. She also wrote a lot of shopping guides for the website.

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