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Ultimate guide for buying, using, and maintaining induction cooktops
There is a lot of buzz lately about the induction cooktops. Some of the most common questions surrounding induction cooktops are:
- What are the main pros and cons?
- Are they safe enough?
- Are they worth the money?
- What is that weird “humming”, “whirling” or “buzzing” sound coming out of them?
- And, related to the previous question – does something such as a noiseless induction cooktop really exist?
Even if it’s on the market for the last two decades, we still don’t know how to name it properly. That’s why we sometimes call it induction cooktop, induction stove, induction hob – feel free to continue the list. Still, it’s already one of the most popular kitchen appliances on the market.
We’ve already answered some of these questions in our article on quiet induction cooktops. In this guide, we’re going to answer all the main questions surrounding it, including:
- What is the best induction cooktop overall?
- What is the most affordable induction cooktop?
- What is the quietest induction cooktop?
But we will try to answer all other doubts you have concerning induction cooktops and induction cooking in general. So, let’s start with the basics.
Table of Content
1. What is induction cooking?
Induction cooking uses a physical phenomenon called “magnetism” to produce heat. Below the surface of the induction cooktop is an induction coil. When the cooking zone is switched on, the coil creates a magnetic field that acts directly on the bottom of the pot and heats it. The cooking zone heats up only indirectly due to the heat coming out of the pot.
Induction only works with magnetized bottom cookware. The size of the container is automatically taken into account i.e. cooking zone’s size adjusts to the size of the cookware bottom.
2. Types of induction cooktops
- Single burners
- Double induction cooktops
- Built-in induction cooktops
- Freestanding induction units
- Portable induction cooktops
3. Cookware for Induction CookingInduction cookware must be made from magnetic materials. If you are shopping for new cookware, check the bottom of it. If it has a symbol of coiled wires it means it’s compatible with induction heating. On the other side, if you are not sure that the pan or pot will work with an induction cooktop, put a magnet on the bottom of it. If the magnet strongly sticks to the pan, then it should work well. Otherwise, the pan is not suitable for induction cooking.
Enameled and cast iron pans are the best, but you can also use stainless steel pans but provided they have a magnetic bottom. Also, the thickness of the cookware bottom plays an important role when it comes to efficiency – the thicker the bottom, the better performance.
The bottom of the pan used on the induction cooktop may have a diameter smaller than or the same as the surface of the marked cooking zone.
You cannot use cookware made of ceramics, plastic, glass, aluminum. The induction cooktop automatically recognizes the pan on its surface and switches on automatically. But it also recognizes cookware that is not suitable and therefore will not turn on.
In short, induction cooking suitable cookware is made of:
- stainless steel with magnetized bottom,
- enameled steel,
- cast iron.
Cookware that is not suitable for induction cooktops is made of:
- stainless steel with non-magnetized bottom,
- aluminum or copper,
- glass or ceramic.
4. Induction Cooking Efficiency
To achieve the best possible results the bottom of metal pans should be 2-3 mm strong. When it comes to stainless steel pans with an inserted (sandwich) bottom, it should be 4 to 6 mm.
At room temperature, the bottom should be slightly concave, as it spreads on the heat, and thus, later, when used on the induction cooktop, it would become flat. This ensures minimal heat loss during cooking.
Always make sure that the bottom of the pan you are using matches the size of the diameter of the selected cooking zone.
The heat generated at the bottom of the pot depends on the diameter of the pot – the smaller the diameter of the pot, the lower the heating power of the zone. Thanks to this, there is no unnecessary heat loss if the cooking zone is not completely covered by the pot. Always place the pot in the middle of the cooking zone.
Use a higher level of power to cook food at the boiling point. After the food is cooked, switch the cooking zone to a lower level.
5. Are Induction Cooktops Safe to Use?
Induction also recognizes the content of the pan, and if we pour oil into the pan and it overheats, the induction will automatically stop heating the pan. Also, if the contents of the container evaporate, the sensor detects overheating and switches off automatically. It is these characteristics that place induction to the top of the safest cooking solutions.
6. Cleaning and Maintaining Induction Cooktop
Even the smallest scratches are impossible to repair. In case of any damages made to the top of the induction cooktop, replacement is the only option. Replacing the glass of the induction cooktop is a pretty uneconomical move to make. Thus, you make sure you keep it in a good shape.
First of all, use just cookware suitable for induction heating. Second, don’t use the glass-ceramic surface as a “storage” – kitchen utensils and other stuff can damage it. Also, don’t use aluminum foil or foils and containers made of similar materials ( or even plastic ) for reheating the food. To prevent scratches on the glass-ceramic plate, use dishes with a clean and smooth bottom.
Clean your glass-ceramic hob regularly, preferably after each use.
First, remove dried food and liquid residues from the glass-ceramic surface with a scraper blade.
As soon as the cooktop has cooled down, put a drizzle of a cooktop cleaner.
Wash the surface thoroughly and dry it with a paper towel or soft cloth.
Do not use wire cleaners, washing sponges, or any other rough surface cleaners.
It is also not recommended to use preparations that support corrosion such as oven sprays and stain removers.
If any plastic, foil, sugar, or sugar-containing foodstuff unexpectedly melts on the hot surface of the glass-ceramic hob, remove them immediately using a scraper blade while the cooktop is still hot, not only from the cooktop but also from the surface of the pan. This will prevent damaging the cooktop surface.
Before preparing food that contains a large amount of sugar, coat the plate with a suitable preservative to protect the surface from damaging it with the sugar in the case that the food boils or spills on the surface of the cooktop.
Shiny metal stains are created due to a scratch on the bottom of the aluminum pot or due to the use of an unsuitable cleaning agent. Such stains are removed by cleaning after several times.
The color changes on the cooktop are caused by all the non-removed and baked food leftovers. They do not affect the function of the glass-ceramic surface, it is not a matter of changing the material quality.
Chips on the decor can be caused by abrasive cleaners, or by scraping the bottom of the pot on the surface of the cooktop for a long time. A dark stain appears on the cooktop after some time.
Changes in the graphic brightness of the surface do not affect the operation of the device, but it is a result of everyday use of the induction cooktop.
7. Is there something such as a noiseless induction cooktop?
Shortly, no, there is no such thing as a noiseless induction cooktop. The level of noise induction cooktops make depends on a few factors, and only one of them is the induction cooktop itself.
When set to the maximum heating power, or depending on the selected type of cookware, induction cooktops can produce various sounds such as buzzing, whistling, or cracking. Sounds will disappear after you reduce the heating power. The amount of food you cook and the way you cook can also affect the intensity of sounds.
The induction cooktops are containing a cooling fan that turns on if the system indicates a higher temperature. The fan can also run after the cooking zones are switched off if the temperature is still high.
These sounds are a common side effect of induction heating and there is no way to use induction cooktops and to avoid them.
When it comes to cookware, regardless of the material and construction of the bottom, the following types of noise can occur:
- at high power levels, there may be a buzzing that decreases or disappears with decreasing power levels,
- at dishes, with a bottom made of different materials (e.g. sandwich bottom), you may hear crackling,
- whistling may occur if connected cooking zones are used at the same time, and there are pots with a bottom made of different materials (e.g. sandwich-bottom),
- snapping can occur in electronic switching processes, especially at low power levels.
You can check our list of quiet induction cooktops, or you can simply purchase, per our opinion, the quietest induction cooktop on the market, from the box below.
8. Gas vs Induction Cooktop
Gas cooking has long been the standard for a long time, but when it comes to environmental protection and energy efficiency, induction is the better choice. Along with rising gas prices, improved technology, and growing awareness of the benefits of induction. This explains why more and more top chefs are switching to induction cooktops.
As we wrote above induction cooktops transmit alternating electric energy through a ferromagnetic coil, creating a magnetic field beneath the ceramic top of the cooktop that directly transfers heat on the cookware. Unlike gas or traditional electricity, induction cooking only works when the pan is within this magnetic zone, so the energy is directed only where it is really needed.
When you use an induction cooktop, more than 90% of every buck spent on energy goes straight into the pan. Gas delivers less than 50% and traditional electricity less than 60% of spent energy. Thus, as the pan turns into a heat source, the induction cooktop stays cool to the touch: the heat does not disperse and there are no carcinogenic exhaust fumes or smells.
There are also other benefits of using an induction cooktop over the gas or electric one. An induction cooktop creates a much cooler and more comfortable working environment than gas-powered cooktops, and the absence of an open flame or hot work surface makes them safer to use. Furthermore, because the cooktop stays cool, food doesn’t stick so easily.
Cooking on an induction cooktop is quick and efficient, and allows precise temperature control. All of this helps you to be more energy-efficient, but also (sometimes most importantly) to save money and energy.
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Last update on 2021-03-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API