What Is Induction Cooking

What is induction cooking

Do you want to know what induction cooking is?

It was about 10 years ago when I first heard about induction cooking.

There was a new single heat zone induction stove promoted by one of these “but wait, there’s more” companies and at the time I didn’t think much of it.

It was only later that I came to realize that induction cooking has been around for much longer!

In fact, the first induction stove was manufactured in 1970 by Westinghouse Electric Corporation and put up for public display in 1971 in Texas.

Fast forward to today and you will find induction cooktops manufactured by several reputable companies like Empava, Bosch, Frigidaire and Thermador.

In this article I will discuss:

What is electrical induction?

First up, a little science lesson.

When you coil up conductive wires and put an electrical current through them, an electromagnetic field is generated around them.

Now you add another coil to the mix, right alongside the first, with no physical contact between them.

What happens when you power up the first coil?

An electric current is generated in the second coil by the electromagnetic field around the first.

This is called electrical induction.

This principle is used throughout all industries with the most common one nowadays probably being wireless chargers.

What is induction cooking?

Now take that a step further.

When you power the first coil using an alternating current (that is the type of current in the normal household supply) and instead of using a second coil you use a solid surface (like the base of a frying pan), you get circular currents being induced in that solid surface.

They are called Eddy currents.

As with any other current, when it flows through a conductive material that has some degree of electrical resistance, it creates heat.

What is induction cooking
Induction cooktop

That is the principle on how induction cooking works.

There is a coil of conductive wires underneath the cooktop surface.

When you power those coils, it creates an electromagnetic field.

That in turn induces Eddy currents in the base of your induction pot or pan and those currents creates heat due to the electrical resistance of the base of the pot or pan.

Finally, when you change the current in the coils, you change the power of the electromagnetic field, which changes the strength of the Eddy currents being induced.

This in turn leads to changes in the amount of heat being produced in the base of your cookware.

The advantages of induction cooking

Given the above, you can see that with induction cooking, it is not the surface of the cooktop that is transferring the heat to the base of the pot or pan, but the electromagnetic field.

The cooktop surface therefore does not get hot except for the heat being transferred from the pot or pan sitting on top of it.

It differs from coil element and radiant cooktops in that these use direct heat transfer which means the cooking surface gets very hot, as hot as you need the base of your pot or pan to be.

Cooler cooking surface

The first major advantage would be then that you work with a cooking surface that is much cooler.

Less chance of getting burned as well as spills getting burnt and stuck to the cooking surface.

Easier to clean

Induction cooktop surfaces are also easier to clean and maintain due to less extreme temperatures and being a smooth glass surface.

More responsive temperature control

You have better control over the temperatures in your cookware due to the control you have over the power of the current in the coils.

With this also comes the advantage of having quick and almost instant heat adjustments.

More energy efficient

With energy being transferred by magnetic fields instead of direct heat transfer as is the case with coil element and radiant cooktops, inductions cooking is much more energy efficient with much less heat being lost to the surrounding environment.

The advantages of induction cooking

As with all great things in life, almost all of them has their drawbacks.

Unfortunately, induction cooking is no different.

Require specific cookware

First up, you need certain cookware.

Current can only be induced in ferrous metals like cast iron and steel.

You can do a magnet test to see if cookware will work on an induction stove.

If a magnet sticks to the base of the cookware, it will most likely work.

Risk of over-cooking and burning

Because of the instant heat generated in induction cooking, care must be taken not to overcook or burn food.

There is a bit of a learning curve when switching over from traditional cooking methods.

Cooking surfaces are easily damaged

With the cooking surfaces of induction stoves being smooth and made from glass, they can easily be scratched and cracked.

Care must be taken when moving pots and pans around on the surface.

Price

Induction cooktops and ranges tend to be more expensive due to the technology going into them.

Risk with pacemakers

Strong magnetic fields have an effect on pacemakers, so it has been advised that people with them keep a safe distance between the cooktop and pacemaker, which was stated to be at least 60 cm.

Noisy

Finally, induction cooktops and ranges need a cooling fan which does make some noise.

Also, the induction process itself tends to sometimes make a buzzing and humming noise especially if lighter duty cookware is being used.

Conclusion

Induction cooking has made enormous leaps in development in recent years.

Many of our favorite brands now manufacture quality induction cooktops and ranges.

It would be safe to say that we’ll see a lot more in the induction cooking space in the future.

If you are in the market for a new cooktop or range, it may be well worth it to consider induction appliances.

If you are in the market for an induction cooktop, check out my list of the top picks here!