In recent times, the shift towards green energy has made several people switch to induction stoves. It speeds up cooking, maintains a consistent temperature, and is energy efficient.
And if you plan on getting such an induction cooktop, your friends might also advise you to invest in a good induction-compatible cookware set. That’s because induction stoves don’t work like electric or gas stoves.
Induction cooktops generate heat using the magnetic properties of the induction coil and the cookware material. It doesn’t require any flame, heating element, or fuel, and the cooktop never heats up unless commanded. Due to its unique heating method, only certain types of cookware work with it.
But do you really need a new induction cookware set? Or will your existing pots and pans work just fine? To know this, you need to understand the way induction cooktops function.
The Science Behind Induction Cooking
Induction cooktops work on the principle of electromagnetic induction. When you switch it on, it generates a magnetic field through a metal coil, such as copper. This field creates electric eddy currents in the pot or pan, which, in turn, heats up the pan. The output temperature of an induction stove is controlled by changing the strength of the magnetic field.
Since this type of stove use the method of induction and not radiation, they are energy-efficient. Radiative heat sources, such as a gas stove flame, lose heat to the surroundings. But induction cooktops directly induce heat in the utensils, which makes them highly efficient.
Unlike gas stoves, induction stoves use electromagnetism for heating, thus, only cookware with iron or other ferromagnetic material work on them. Non-ferromagnetic material can’t react with the magnetic field or induce heat. Using an induction base cookware will not only save you time but also enhance your cooking experience.
What Kind Of Cookware Works With An Induction Stove?
Identifying induction-compatible utensils can be difficult with the myriad of cookware options available. To help you out, we have built a comprehensive list of all the materials that work with induction cooking.
1. Cast Iron
Cast iron is one of the best options for induction cooking. It is made of carbon and iron and is shaped through casting, giving the name cast iron. As iron is ferromagnetic, it works well with induction cooktops.
However, the bottom of cast iron cookware is brittle and rough, which may scratch the cooktop surface. The rough surface might also result in uneven heating, as the electric current isn’t generated consistently.
You can solve these problems by buying porcelain-coated cast iron pots and pans. It gives you the benefit of using cast iron while also making it smooth-surfaced. But some porcelain-coated utensils may not work on induction if the coating is too thick. Check for the induction compatibility sign on the cookware before purchasing.
2. Stainless Steel
Most people recommend stainless steel when purchasing induction-compatible cookware. But, not all grades of stainless steel work with induction cooking. Steel is made of several materials, out of which some metals, such as nickel, reduce the intensity of the magnetic field.
A high-nickel content might block the magnetic field altogether, which means such cookware won’t work with induction cooktops. However, other types of stainless steel with low or zero nickel content are suitable for induction cooking due to their high iron content.
SS 304 Grade Stainless Steel
SS 304, or the 300 series in general, is austenitic steel. It contains high amounts of chromium and nickel and low amounts of carbon. SS 304 grade contains 8% nickel which is high enough to block out the magnetic field. That’s why it is non-magnetic and can’t be used for induction cooking.
SS 200 Grade Stainless Steel
This is another type of austenitic steel that has a lower nickel content. SS 200 has upto 2% of nickel and 14-16% of chromium. Despite the reduced amount of nickel, SS 200 is non-magnetic and cannot be used for induction cooking.
SS 430 Grade Stainless Steel
SS 430 is a kind of ferritic stainless steel. These contain low chromium and nickel and high carbon content. Since the amount of nickel isn’t enough to block the magnetic field, SS 430 is widely used for induction cooking.
SS 403 Grade Stainless Steel
This steel is called martensitic steel. It contains a higher amount of carbon and negligible amounts of nickel. SS 403 grade, in particular, contains no nickel, which makes it ideal for induction cooking. Generally, SS 403 isn’t used in ordinary cookware but can be especially found in induction base stainless steel pots and pans.
3. Copper and Aluminum
Pure copper or aluminum cookware won’t work on induction cooktops as they are not ferromagnetic. This is also true for hard anodized cookware, as they are mostly made of aluminum.
However, many manufacturers now make induction-compatible copper and aluminum pans. These utensils have a magnetized base made of SS 403 stainless steel or iron, which heats up through induction and transfers the heat to the entire pan.
4. Ceramic and Glass
Just like aluminum, ceramic and glass are not naturally magnetic. This means they cannot be used on an induction cooker. However, similar adjustments can be made to the base to make them compatible for induction cooking. Most induction base ceramic cookware contain a layer of ferrite at the bottom, which is a ferromagnetic material.
5. Non-Stick and Enameled Cookware
Both non-stick and enameled cookware can be compatible with induction depending on the base metal. As most non-stick cookware is made of aluminum, it may not work on an induction stove. But cast iron utensils, which are naturally non-stick, work well, as the coating doesn’t interfere with the magnetic field.
Similarly, enamel over cast iron is induction compatible as long as the base is magnetic. A very thick enamel coating or enamel over steel may not work if the metal cannot interact with the magnetic field.
Tips To Identify Induction Cookware
Most manufacturers directly state the compatibility of their cookware on the packaging. It might also be indicated with a coil-shaped icon either on the box or at the bottom of the utensil. But if you are still unsure or want to check your existing cookware, you can do the magnet test.
- Grab a magnet and hold it close to the bottom of the pan as described in the following image.
- If the magnet quickly sticks to the pan, it is induction compatible.
- If the magnet shows no pull towards the pan, then it won’t work on an induction stove.
- Some utensils might show a weak interaction with the magnet. Such utensils work on the induction cooktop, but they won’t be very efficient and cause uneven heat distribution.
Important Note: Induction-compatible cookware needs to have a flat bottom, irrespective of the material. The magnetic field dips quickly with an increase in the distance between the stovetop and the bottom of the utensil. That’s why a curve-bottomed utensil may not work with an induction stove.
How To Use Non-Induction Cookware On Induction Cooktops?
Discovered that your favorite pot isn’t induction base? Or want to make your existing cookware set work? With modern technology, both of them are possible. You can make a non-induction pan work on the induction cooktop using the following method:
Using an Induction Plate
An induction plate is a steel or iron plate that is placed between the induction and the cookware. This creates a magnetic contact between the two surfaces, which allows the plate to be heated by electromagnetic induction. The plate then transfers the heat to the cookware, allowing you to use non-induction cookware with induction cooktops.
However, using induction plates considerably reduces the efficiency of the cooktop. As the heat isn’t directly generated in the utensil, there is heat loss at the plate which increases the cooking time. It isn’t a good long-term solution, but it works well for occasional use.
Steel Wire Mesh
This is an inexpensive alternative to the induction plate and works similarly by forming a magnetized contact between the cooktop and the bottom of the utensil. But the problems with efficiency and heat loss might be increased with the usage of a steel-wired mesh. Also, not all steel works with an induction cooktop. You need to ensure that the steel is magnetized.
Induction cooktops have several benefits. They use less energy and are fuss-free. However, they also require the right cookware to function properly. Many people who switch to induction cooking are confused about choosing proper cookware.
A basic principle while choosing induction base pots and pans is that induction stoves only work with magnetized material. This can be cast iron or stainless steel, and the utensils work as long as a magnet sticks to it.
But if you don’t want to buy new cookware, you can make your old cookware set work by using a few tips mentioned above. These ideas, such as using an induction plate, work really well as temporary solutions. You can even use the induction cookware on your gas stove considering a few pros and cons.
Even though you can continue using your old cookware, we recommend purchasing a good set of induction-compatible pots and pans for a better cooking experience.