What Is Induction Cooking?
Induction cooking was first patented back in the early 1900s, however it didn’t start showing up in homes until the 1970s. And even then, it just never seemed to catch on. In 2012, the National Association of Home Builders estimated that in the United States, induction cooktops only held 4% of all sales.
But what is induction cooking? The induction process uses magnetic induction to heat the cooking pot instead of using thermal conduction from a flame or electrical element. I know it sounds extremely complicated, and it is, but just think of it as using magnet waves to heat up the pot versus using heat from a flame.
What is an induction cooktop? The magic behind the process is a series of elements called induction coils. They create a magnetic field when used with steel or iron pots or pans that generates heat without heating up the surface of the cooktop.
Induction vs Gas
Gas stoves are very popular especially with the rise of reality television cooking shows on the Food Network. Many of the chefs on those shows use gas exclusively since it’s impressive to see flames while they are cooking. However, there are many advantages that induction cooking has over gas.
Gas and induction stoves heat up very fast, unlike conventional electric stove tops. You flip the controls and you have instant heat. And that is where the similarities end.
As we already said, when you turn on the burner, the flame ignites immediately and you start to have heat for cooking. But what are some of the other features and negatives with gas stoves?
- You get visual feedback because you can see the flame, giving you a basic idea how high the temperature is set to.
- You can use just about any type of cookware without any limitations.
- The controls are familiar to most cooks, since they primarily have knobs that you use to adjust the temperature of the burner.
- One drawback for gas stoves is that it requires you to have gas service in your home. Many neighborhoods do not have gas available.
- Another black mark on gas cooking is that since you are using a combustible gas to cook with, they are more susceptible to accidents and fire, although it’s not often that happens.
- They are difficult to keep clean because they usually have large ceramic stands to hold the pots over the flame and food can easily get trapped below it.
- And lastly, they are typically cheaper than the induction counterparts.
- These units turn on almost immediately. You can boil water in a large pot in less than 3 minutes.
- If the pan is not in the cooking area, then there is no heat. Many units are cool to the touch within seconds.
- They are very efficient, using closer to 90% of energy in heat versus around 50% with other types of heating sources.
- Very easy to clean since most surfaces are flat glass and are easily wiped clean. Also since the surface doesn’t get hot, the food that does spill won’t get baked on the surface.
- One negative that is frequently the cause of people to choose another technology is the price. These units can cost somewhere between $1,100 and $2,900 putting it out of the range of many typical buyers.
- Extremely safe to operate since the surface doesn’t get hot and the burners turn off when a pot or pan isn’t touching it.
- More precise control over the temperature with some units having the ability to reduce the heat to precise levels.
- Another negative is that you have to purchase cookware that is iron or steel. If you have already invested in a set of cookware that isn’t it can be even more expensive to switch over.
But what about induction vs electric?
- Electric cooktops are typically going to be your least expensive option for a cooking surface.
- The electric burners take a very long time to warm up in comparison to both gas and induction versions.
- They also take a long time to cool down and if you need to adjust the temperature during the cooking process, you could overcook foods because it doesn’t cool off fast enough.
- One additional positive other than price, is that if you have any reason to need to replace a coil, they are very inexpensive and easy to replace.
- But at the same time they can be had to clean because food can slip through underneath the coil.
So What Is Induction Cooking?
There is a lot to understand about the differences between the types of cooking surfaces, but one thing I can say for sure is that many people who have switched to induction ranges typically will never go back. There is a cost to making the switch over but once you do you’ll be glad you did.