From a wood-fired hearth to a gas stove, modern cooking has seen many advancements. But, today, the technology that is making all the buzz is induction cooking. It would be safe to say that induction cooktops are quickly replacing the traditional gas stoves throughout the world.
Induction stoves are marketed as the most advanced technology in the cooking sphere that are safe and pretty effortless in their usage. These also offer more advanced cooking performance as compared to other heating methods. But is this true or these are mere claims?
Fret not as we have covered every detail of induction cooktops in our article below. From their working to their usage, we have explained it all. And, to put your questions to rest, we have also discussed why you should opt for them in the first place. Further, we have also addressed some of the most common questions regarding induction cooktops. So, without further ado, let’s get started.
What is Induction Cooking?
Though induction cooking has been prevalent since early 1900s, it has come into the limelight only a few decades ago. Induction cooking involves direct heating of the cookware, including pans and pots instead of depending upon the indirect methods of heating like radiation, convection, or thermal conduction. What makes induction cooking standout is its ability to increase temperatures rapidly, while offering uniform and consistent heat.
Unlike other methods of heating, induction cooking minimises any wastage of heat and is also safer than the gas stoves. Also, this method produces no air pollution inside the kitchen, thereby benefitting those with respiratory issues or allergies. Since the cooktop has a smooth surface, it is very easy to clean and maintain as well.
Hence, there is no doubt that induction cooking has revolutionised the way we cook.
How Does an Induction Stove Work?
Induction stove or an induction cooktop works on the principle of electromagnetic induction. In this, an alternating electromagnetic current is passed through a coil of copper wire, placed underneath the ceramic plate on which the cooking vessel is put. This results in an oscillating magnetic field that wirelessly produces electrical current, called eddy current inside the cookware.
Eddy current is nothing but a loop of electrical current, forming as a result of a magnetic field inside the conducting material that changes from positive to negative. This means that the eddy current tries to constantly pull the vessel’s electrons into a certain formation. At the same time, the electrons inside the vessel try to resist the formation.
This persistent push and pull of the electrons inside the vessel results in resistive heating that heats the cookware placed on the induction cooktop. This method of cooking is faster, safer, and more efficient than cooking on a gas stove. It takes nearly half the time for water to boil on an induction stove than on other methods of thermal conduction or gas stoves.
How to Operate an Induction Stove?
Induction cooking is not only one of the most efficient heating methods but it is also extremely easy to operate. With a little bit of knowledge, you can easily use an induction stove in your daily life. Let’s discuss all the steps from starting to end that you need to know about the usage of an induction cooktop.
Installation of an Induction Stove
First things first. Even before you start with the cooking process, you must know that induction stoves are of two types – Fixed and Portable. The portable stove can be placed anywhere and you are good to go. However, in case of a fixed induction stove, you have to install it before you can operate it.
In most cases, the installation service is provided by the company. In case, it is not, you can seek the services of a certified technician. You must read the user’s manual for more details and specifications. You must also look for any installation defects or cracks on the ceramic plate, and get it replaced if you find any fault.
Once, the induction cooktop is installed, you can begin with your cooking.
Look for Compatible Cookware for Your Induction Stove
Usually, people are ignorant of the type of vessels that they are using for their induction stove. So, whenever, you are buying any new cookware, you must make sure that it is induction friendly. By this, we mean that your vessel must be of some ferromagnetic material that has iron in it for the electric currents to pass and heat the vessel.
You can opt for materials like iron, cast iron, enamel cast iron, or stainless steel with magnetic properties. The materials that you must totally avoid are glass, aluminium, and copper. These will not work unless the base of these materials has some magnetic properties.
If you are not sure about your cooking vessel, i.e., whether it has magnetic properties or not, you can bring a simple magnet near the base of the cookware. If the magnet sticks to it, you know that it will work on your induction stove. If it doesn’t, it is better to avoid that vessel for induction cooking.
Apart from the material used in your cookware, it is equally important that you pay attention to the quality of the vessel. You must always choose the one that has a smoother base, as more area will be in contact with the ceramic plate, which allows for better heating. Cookware with unnecessary bends or depressions must be avoided altogether.
Avoid using extremely thin or low-quality cookware as they will produce a lot of noise while cooking. Also, use appropriate-sized utensils for your induction stove as very small vessels might not be even detected and very large might not be apt for your device. Usually, the minimum vessel size ranges between four to five inches and the maximum size being around fourteen to fifteen inches, based on your hob.
You can always refer to the user’s manual for exact specifications. Also, remember that you always use wooden spatulas or spoons while working on an induction stove. This is because you wouldn’t want your iron or steel spoons to stick on the vessel surface.
Use Your Induction Stove
Now that we have discussed the prerequisites of using an induction stove, i.e., installation and compatible cookware, let’s discuss how to actually use your device.
Placing the Induction Stove and Cookware
- When you are placing your induction cooktop, make sure that the surface is flat, secure, and of non-metallic material. Also, there must be some gap, ideally three to five inches around the stove for better ventilation.
- Now you can place your vessel for the food to be cooked on the cooktop. Make sure to wipe the surface of the vessel to avoid any staining. You must place the vessel on the heating zone provided on your induction stove. You can go for cooktops that have flexible heating zones for more variety in cooking.
- Usually, when people are in a hurry, they forget about aligning the cookware properly, which affects the heating performance of the induction. Therefore, you must always place the vessel in such a way that it aligns with the centre of the heating zone. Also, you should never drag your utensil on the glass surface as this can lead to scratches. Always lift and then place or remove the utensil.
- Now, you can switch on your induction. Make sure that no magnetic material is placed around the stove. Patients with cardiac pacemakers should also consult their physician before operating an induction stove.
- Ideally, you must keep a distance of at least one foot while operating an induction stove to avoid the negative effects of electromagnetic field. This is also why placing your cookware before starting the induction is essential. It also saves some energy.
Work with the Controls in the Induction Stove
Once you have placed your vessel with the food to be cooked on the induction cooktop, it’s time to operate the control panel. You must keep in mind that every induction has its own unique control panel, depending on the brand and the model. Usually, there are three types of controls – Push Button, Rotating Knob, and Touch controls.
To start the induction stove, you can press the ON button on the control panel. You can also refer to the user’s manual for specific instructions. However, the general functions on the control panel include a timer setting, power buttons, temperature controls, plus (+), and minus (-) signs for increasing or decreasing the temperature, time, etc. You would also find an LED display for more convenient usage.
You must always adhere to the instructions given in the user’s manual when it comes to setting time, power, or temperature of your induction stove. Also, if there is any issue or an error displayed, it’s better to consult the customer service instead of taking things in your own hand.
Additional Features and In-Built Functions of an Induction Stove
Apart from the basic control settings, induction cooktops are also equipped with some other advanced features and in-built functions that make your induction cooking versatile and more convenient. Let’s have a look at some of these features.
- Pre-set Menu Most of the advanced induction cooktops come with pre-set menus, which are nothing but already set time and heat settings for your food. The most prevalent pre-set menus include boil, grill, steam, stir, fry, warm, etc. You just have to select the pre-set menu and sit back, letting your induction stove do its job.
- WiFi Setting In high-end induction cooktop models, you will generally find a WiFi setting or smart control that allows you to connect your phone with the device. In this way, you can control the cooktop without even touching it.
- Pause Button A pause button is an extremely handy safety feature. In case there are any spills or you have an urgent commitment, you can press the pause button to pause the cooking process for a while. You can again resume the cooking process by pressing the same button.
- Delay Set Button Another convenient feature that comes in superior induction stoves is the delay set button. It is extremely useful for the busy households who often multitask and forget things. This feature allows you to delay the cooking session to some other time in future. So whenever you forget about your cooking schedule, you will not have to worry as your induction will remember it. It will automatically cook the food, depending on your time and menu settings.
- Child Lock The child lock feature is undoubtedly a blessing when you have children in your house. Whenever this feature is turned on, the device locks or disables the buttons while the cooking process continues. This saves you from any accidental change in settings by your child or anyone else. You can press the same button again to deactivate the child lock.
- Residual Heat Light Indicator This is yet another safety feature that comes in really handy once you are done with your cooking. It is often seen that the cooktop continues to stay hot for a while after the cooking process is over. This residual heat light indicator is turned on for that time period, signalling that the cooktop is still hot. Therefore, you must wait for the indicator light to stop flashing or to turn to cool before actually cleaning the stove. This small feature prevents any unwanted burning accidents.
- Wok Cooking As we have discussed above that cookware with dents or depressions are not very suitable for induction cooking. Therefore, to counter this drawback, some high-end induction models are equipped with wok cooking addition. This is a depressed area on the cooktop for you to place the wok without worrying about it slipping or tipping over. It can be used for functions like stir-frying, steaming, smoking, pan-frying, etc.
- Safety Cut Off You will find the safety cut off feature in almost all induction stoves. This feature automatically turns off the device if it has been switched on for an extended period without any change in temperature. This safety cut off period largely depends on the heat settings of the stove at that period. Higher the heat settings, the earlier the cooktop will be switched off. Usually the cut off period ranges between 1-1.5 hours for higher heat settings and sometimes up to ten hours for low heat settings. You can opt for any cooktop based on your cooking habits.
- Automatic Pan Detection Many induction cooktops are equipped with the automatic pan detection feature, which is nothing but an in-built sensor. This in-built sensor detects whether the utensil has been placed on the cooktop or not. If the sensors do not detect any cookware on the glass top, they will prompt the device to shut down. The sensing period can range from twenty to sixty seconds, depending on the model.
However, this feature can be a nuisance if the sensors don’t allow the device to resume the same settings after you have lifted the utensil just for a few seconds. To take care of this issue, many brands allow the sensors to resume the same settings once the cookware is placed on the cooktop again.
- Voltage Fluctuation Detection Few induction cooktops also come with a voltage fluctuation detection feature that alarms the user in case of voltage fluctuations, after which the device is switched off. This feature protects the device from any voltage damages and is really beneficial in areas where power cut offs and voltage fluctuations are quite prevalent.
- Overflowing Controls In case of overflows, the overflowing control will automatically alarm the user with a beep before switching off the device. This is a protective feature and protects the device against any overflow, which can be extremely harmful in case of hot or boiling liquids.
These are some of the basic and advanced features that are embedded in an induction cooktop to make induction cooking more convenient. For any other specific function, you must refer to the user manual provided by the company for better understanding of the feature.
Switch Off Your Induction Stove
When you are done with your cooking, it is time to switch off the device. If you work with the pre-set menus, in that case, the device is designed to switch off automatically after the cooking process is finished. However, in models in which it doesn’t switch off by itself, the device uses an alarm or a beep sound to alert the user that the set timer is over and they will have to turn off the device.
You must always lift your cookware and wait for the device to cool down before cleaning. Generally, it takes about three to five minutes for the stove to cool down completely. Many cooktops come with residual heat light indicator that reflects that the cooktop is still hot.
So, once the residual heat light indictor stops flashing light or shows cool, you can clean the surface and store your device. Also, it is a good idea to remove the plug from the socket.
Cleaning and Storing Your Induction Stove
Once the induction cooktop is cool, you must clean its surface. You can gently rub the surface using a wet cloth, pad, or a paper tissue. For better cleaning a mild soap would work really well. To remove the stains, you can rub the surface gently with a toothbrush.
Since the induction cooktop is of glass, you must always use a soft material on it to avoid any scratches. Also, make sure that you don’t use excess water for cleaning as it is an electrical device which can result in electric shocks. Always use a damp cloth for getting rid of excess soap or cream and then dry it out using a dry cloth or paper.
For rigid food residues or stains, use an exclusive scraper that is especially designed for glass or ceramic surfaces. Remember to use it gently without applying too much pressure. You can also use white vinegar for stubborn stains. All you need to do is to dab some white vinegar on the cloth and rub it on the affected area. Next, you should clean it with a damp towel and then dry it out with a dry cloth or paper.
Once you have cleaned the induction stove thoroughly, you can now put the lid or the cover back on it and store it properly. This will increase the lifespan of your device and will also prevent any dust accumulation, thereby reducing your cleaning hassles.
So, these are some of the steps that you need to follow while using an induction cooktop.
Why to Choose an Induction Stove?
Induction cooking has become the new age cooking method that everyone swears by. Though it has its own set of advantages, there are people who are still not convinced with its potential. So, let’s see how induction cooking is more efficient than other heating methods and why should you opt one for yourself.
Induction Stoves Heat Faster
If you are looking for a way to cook your food faster, induction stoves are your best bet. These cook faster than the gas or other electric heating methods. The reason for this is that it doesn’t use a heating element that has to be heated first, which transfers the heat to the cookware.
It directly heats the utensil placed on the top of the cooking surface, which reduces the time taken for cooking the food. In fact, it is believed that induction stoves can heat about 50% faster than other methods of cooking. Also, there is no heat loss during the entire process.
Induction Cooktops Offer Precise Temperature Controls
Electric stoves that use conduction for heating usually require more time for heating up and cooling down. In the same way, it gets challenging to reach the precise temperature required for cooking with gas stoves. Both these issues are taken care of with induction cooktops.
It allows you to reach exact temperatures, thereby allowing more controlled cooking. This method also reduces the risk of overcooking or overboiling as the heat transfer stops immediately once the burner is switched off. It is one of the most appropriate heating methods for specialised cooking that requires precise temperatures.
Induction Cooktops Exhibit Better Power Efficiency
Induction stoves are more energy-efficient as compared to other electric stoves. This is because induction involves no or minimal heat loss during the heating process as only the vessel is heated and there is no heat transfer to the surrounding surfaces. Whereas, in case of other electric cooktops, there is a lot of energy loss to the surrounding areas of the cookware. Even in case of gas stoves, much of the heat energy is lost to the air, thereby reducing its efficiency. Therefore, induction stoves not only save energy but also save you money and time in the long run.
Induction Cooktops are Easy to Clean
We all know what a mess it is to clean a gas stove. It is almost dreadful. But, with induction cooktops, cleaning has become almost effortless. The credit goes to its smooth surface that requires just a gentle rub of a wet cloth or paper, followed by dry wiping and you are good to go.
Induction Stoves are Safer to Use
Unlike gas stoves, induction cooktops offer extremely safe usage. Since these do not release any gas into the air, there is no chance of objects catching fire. Also, it only heats the utensils unlike electric cooktops that transfer heat to the surrounding areas as well, there are less chances of burning yourself. It is one of the most preferred heating methods to be used around small children. However, you must still be cautious while cooking because the cookware and the food inside them would still be hot.
These are some of the reasons that give induction cooktops a competitive edge over electric or gas stoves. However, their higher price and specific cookware requirement can put additional pressure on your budget. Therefore, you must always weigh in the advantages and limitations before opting one for your kitchen.
What to Look for in Your Induction Stove?
As we know induction cooktops offer superior cooking performance and are worth investing in. But, will every induction suit your needs? Probably not. Therefore, you must always look for some basic details before purchasing one for yourself. It must be compatible with all your needs and requirements. Let’s discuss what you should look for in your induction stove.
Number of Cooking Zones
One of the most essential factors that you must pay attention to before purchasing an induction stove is the number of cooking zones it has. There can be up to five cooking zones, however, we recommend going for the one that has at least two zones for faster cooking. In India, smaller, stand-alone units with just one cooking zone are more common.
Large cooking zones usually have a diameter more than 21 cm, which offer better handling of bigger utensils. It also improves the efficiency of the device. Look for cooktops with well-defined cooking zones as these come with clear-cut utensil size specifications for the individual zones.
Ideally, you should go for the one that has a flexible, small, and extra-large cooking zone as these will be compatible with numerous cookware sizes.
Size of the Cooktop
The size of the cooktop depends on the number of cooking zones on it. You must always select the appropriate-sized induction for better efficiency and convenient cooking. For example, too many cooking zones being too close to each other will make the space more congested and prone to accidents. Whereas, preparing multiple dishes on a single cooktop will make the controls oily and non-responsive to touch.
Therefore, always check size specifications before purchasing the device. A 70-75 cm induction stove is suitable for four cooking zones. In case there are five induction zones, a 90 cm stove is appropriate. However, if you are not good at multitasking and prefer cooking one dish at a particular time, you can choose a simple compact, stand-alone induction.
Wattage or Power Rate
One factor that actually decides the efficiency of an induction cooktop is its wattage or power rate. The thumb rule says that the higher the wattage, the quicker will be your food preparation. For Indian style of cooking, you must opt for an induction that has at least 1500 to 2000 Watt power rate.
This will ensure that the heat is transferred faster and food gets prepared quicker. It is for this reason that the induction cooktops have now become the preferred choice of the consumers as compared to gas or electric stoves. For example, a 12,000 BTU gas stove will take around thirty-six minutes to boil eighteen litres of water.
Whereas, an 1800 Watt induction stove can boil the same quantity of water in just twenty-two minutes. This speaks of its superior performance. Therefore, you should never ignore the wattage of your cooktop.
Since induction cooktops are electrical appliances and handle a lot of hot liquid and solid food, you must also pay attention to the safety features in the device before purchasing one. Features like auto pan detection reduces the risk of burning or energy wastage as the device automatically shuts down when the utensil is removed or lifted. You should also look for features like child lock that makes the appliance less risky for households with small children.
Other features like safety cut off and voltage fluctuation detector also come handy in protecting the device from electrical damage. One feature that you should absolutely look out for is the overflowing control that alerts the user in case of an overflow and switches off the appliance automatically. This protects you and the device from nasty burns due to steam or hot liquid.
However, induction cooktops are generally considered as safe devices only, you should still look for some additional safety features in your model for better protection.
If you are busy and want to save your time and energy, you must always look for timer settings feature in your induction stove. It is extremely beneficial when one has to just heat or boil their food. You can select the time till you want your food to be cooked on the cooktop and after the selected time period is over, the device automatically switches off without your intervention.
Generally, induction stoves are equipped with an in-built timer that has one-minute increment option and can go up to 170 minutes. This feature is also useful in preventing overcooking of food. Also, much of the power is saved and many unwanted mishaps are avoided with a good in-built timer in your device.
One convenience feature that you must always look for in your induction stove is the pre-set menus. This feature is undoubtedly a boon for those who are always on the run and have little time to do the daily, redundant cooking work. The pre-set menus are already programmed with temperature and time settings for certain dishes, which saves a lot of time and energy.
With this feature, you will not have to adjust the heat and time settings every time when you prepare a particular dish. Some of the pre-set menus include grill, fry, warm, milk, steam, etc. With more advanced induction cooktops, the list of pre-set menus become longer, making them even more convenient.
A portable induction cooktop is always more preferred than the fixed one because of the flexibility of space that it offers. Look for a compact, light-weight, and easy to carry induction stove than the bulky one. This will allow you to take your appliance anywhere you want, be it on the rooftop for parties or a nearby park for a family picnic. The compact size also makes it very easy to store as not much space is required.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Though comfortable cleaning is one of the highlights of induction cooktops, you must still check for the particular model that you are going to buy. The cooktop should have a smooth, easy-to-clean surface. Also, avoid cooktops with rotating knobs as these are not very easy to maintain. In addition, a cover or a lid to enclose the device will allow less dust accumulation and easy cleaning. You must look for certain factors in your cooktop.
Points to Keep in Mind While Using an Induction Stove
Now that we have discussed the working, operation, and advantages of induction cooktops, let’s summarize some of the points that you must keep in mind while using an induction stove.
- You must make sure that the utensils you use for cooking are stable, having a flat surface in order to prevent them from falling, thereby resulting in an unwanted accident.
- Make sure that you don’t leave the induction unattended when the device is actually on.
- Do not forget to set the cooking zones to 0 or OFF when not in use.
- Many are guilty of this but you should never use the induction cooktop as a storage or work surface.
- Always make sure that there are no flammable substances placed near or on the device.
- When cleaning, make sure that you clean the surface with a simple damp cloth and some mild soap.
- DO NOT use excess water while cleaning.
- Do not use sharp or abrasive materials for scrubbing the stains and food residue. Always use specialised material for your cooktop to avoid any scratches.
- Do not use high-pressure cleaners for cleaning the induction stove as these are not very safe for induction cleaning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Are Induction Cooktops More Energy-Efficient than Gas Stoves?
When it comes to energy efficiency induction cooktops are undoubtedly more energy-efficient than gas stoves. The major reason for this is that there is no heat loss while cooking because only the cookware gets heated and not the surrounding area. Whereas, in gas stoves, much of the heat flows up from the burner to the areas around the stove, resulting in wastage of heat.
Generally, an induction cooktop uses up to 90% of the electric energy converted to heat. In contrast, a gas burner usually wastes up to 60% of the heat, thereby being only 40% energy-efficient. This shows the superiority of the induction cooktops over gas stoves when it comes to saving energy.
Q2. Are Induction Cooktops Bad for Your Health?
Though induction cooktops release some amount of electromagnetic waves, these are not extremely harmful for your health. In fact, after a few centimetres or maximum a foot, these electromagnetic waves have no impact whatsoever. However, it is still suggested that people with cardiac pacemakers to consult their doctors while operating an induction stove. Also, since no fuel is burnt, there is no chance of harmful gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, etc., being emitted, which makes it suitable for people with underlying respiratory issues. Therefore, the negative effects of induction cooktops, if at all, are negligible.
Q3. Are Induction Cooktops Noisy?
Yes, induction cooktops can make some noise while operating because of the in-built cooling fans. Also, there can be some other sounds like clicking or hush humming when the stove settings are set on high or multiple functions are on. Based on the material and finish of the utensil, there can still be some noise. However, the noise produced is not high enough that it becomes disturbing. In case, it is too high, you must check for any error or fault in your induction.
Q4. Are Induction Cooktops Safe to Use?
Induction cooktops are some of the safest kitchen appliances presently available. The fact that the cooking surface itself never gets hot and it is only the vessel that is heated saves you from any burns while cooking. This is not the case with gas stoves or electric cooktops. Also, the addition of several safety features like overflow detection, child lock, safety cut off, etc., make it even more safe to operate.
Q5. How to Avoid Scratches on the Cooktop Surface?
Since most induction cooktops have a glass surface which makes it prone to scratches. One of the best ways to avoid scratches on the cooktop surface is to lift and not slide your cookware on the surface. Also, you should never use your induction surface as a storage for other items or as a workplace. This is one of the most common reasons for scratches to form on the surface.
In case there are already scratches on the glass surface, you can easily remove them using a baking soda solution. You can also use specialised metal polishing creams for removing the scratches. Always make sure that you don’t use an abrasive material to clean the cooktop either. Extra pressure while rubbing or cleaning should also be avoided.
Conclusion – Are Induction Stoves Worth It?
With this, we come to the final question, are induction stoves worth it? Absolutely Yes. Induction cooktops are probably the most efficient heating methods currently available. These are not only safe to use but also offer superior cooking performance as compared to gas or electric stoves.
When it comes to energy and cost savings in the long run, induction cooktops again score more than their counterparts. Also, its stunning designs add a touch of modernity to your kitchen, making it look more vibrant. In all, induction stoves are a worthy investment. But, you must ensure that you go for the one that meets all your needs and requirements.
Which induction stove did you choose? How was your induction cooking experience? Please write to us in the comments below. And, if there are any doubts regarding the induction cooktops, you can reach out to us. We will answer all your queries as soon as possible.