Do Induction Cooktops Work?

Induction cooktops work exceptionally well if you use the right cookware and operate the stove properly.

How They Work

Induction cooktops require "induction ready" cookware to work.Induction cooktops require "induction ready" cookware to work.
Unlike a conventional gas cooktop, there is no flame and no burner on top of the cooktop. Induction stoves have a heating element that is beneath the ceramic glass of the cooktop. Other than a mechanical equipment failure, the only thing that would not make an induction cooktop work is using the wrong size and type of cookware.

Induction stoves have coils made of copper that function as a burner, so to speak. When you turn on the burner eye, the coil receives a high-frequency electromagnetic charge. When you sit the cookware on top of the burner, the electromagnetic charge connects to the metal on the bottom of the cookware through induction, transferring heat to the bottom of the cookware and to the interior sides of the cookware. As a result, whatever is inside of the cookware gets heated.

Benefits and Advantages

The induction cooking process represents one of the more recent advancements in residential cooking appliances. The ability to heat the cookware only, and not the stove, through induction, represents an innovative approach that brings science and technology out of the laboratory and into kitchens for everyday cooking applications. Induction cooktops also satisfy the demands of today’s busy homemakers. They cut down meal preparation time because they cook foods quicker than gas stoves and conventional electric stoves. They are often referred to as “cool touch” stoves because the stovetop surface stays close to room temperature. The fact that heat is only generated to the cookware is also a safety advantage. You don’t have to worry about anyone touching a hot cooktop and being burned.

Cookware Importance

Induction stoves only work with the right kind of cookware, which must be made of ferrous materials, meaning that it contains iron and has a magnetic bottom. If the cookware does not have an iron-based magnetic bottom, the stove will not generate the electromagnetic charge because it has nothing magnetic to “connect” with on the bottom of the cookware. Cookware made of cast iron and stainless steel is the best type of cookware to use with an induction stove. Coated cast iron, along the lines of brands such as Le Creuset, is recommended versus traditional, heavy cast iron cookware, which can scratch the ceramic glass surface of the induction stove cooktop.

Cookware Differences Compared to Other Smooth Tops

Halogen and radiant smooth-top stoves require cookware with a magnetic bottom. However, with induction stoves, the insides of the cookware must be magnetic as well. Stainless steel cookware must be stainless steel inside and outside, not just on the bottom. If stainless steel cookware is clad with aluminum on the sides or interior, it will not work on an induction stovetop. Most manufacturers will label the cookware “induction ready” or words to that effect. Aluminum, glass and CorningWare-style cookware will not work on induction stoves because they will not enable the stove to generate an electromagnetic charge.

About the Author

Cheryl Munson has been writing since 1990, with experience as a writer and creative director in the advertising industry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a focus on advertising from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.