Induction cooktops are increasing in popularity for good reasons. If you are considering an induction cooker, there are a few things you might want to know to enjoy using it. In this article, I cover how to use an induction cooker and how to care for it for longer satisfaction.
I wrote about portable induction cooktops, which covers how this type of cooking system works. I’ve also covered how induction cooktops compare with electric and gas. One of the advantages to owning an induction cooktop is safety, and another is energy savings.
The stand out feature about induction cookers is that they use electromagnetism to generate heat vs the traditional cooktops, which rely on radiant heat. It needs an induction compatible pot or pan positioned on the cooking zone to work.
How to use an induction cooktop
The following is a guide to induction cooker usage starting with the three basic rules.
Basics of using an induction cooker:
- Induction suitable cookware
You’ll need induction-ready cookware. If you aren’t sure whether your existing pans are induction-ready, use this trick…get a magnet and see if it sticks to the base of the pan. If it does, you have a compatible pan.
If not, you need to get yourself a new pan to use with this type of cooktop. Match the pan with the coil. This means that the magnetic part of the base matches the size tof the coil. When centered, the pan should completely cover the coil.
Ensure the pans sit well and don’t wobble when in contact with the cooktop. This means you need flat-bottomed pans, as these will sit level.
- Use only non-metal utensils with your cookware
This is important! To avoid any current flowing through your body, use only nonmetal spoons or utensils, e.g. made from bamboo or silicone.
- Operate controls to select cooking zone and heat settings
How to operate induction stove: The cooker will have an ‘on’ switch to turn it on (depending on the model). If you aren’t sure check the instructions that came with the appliance.
Place the pot or pan on the induction cooktop, select the relevant cooking zone and then choose the temperature setting. The cooktop will detect the ferromagnetic base and start to heat immediately.
Rather than knobs, modern cooktops have controls sensitive to touch, like this one in the video. Although cooktops will slightly differ, you might find the following helpful…
How does induction cooking work?
Induction uses magnetism to generate currents and this creates heat.1
What makes induction heating different from all the others used for cooking? The heat is generated inside the object — in this case, your cooking pan – rather than from an external burner. Heating your cookware in this way requires a high rate of vibration for enough energy to cook food.
To achieve this, induction cooktops have a series of electronic devices to increase the current and frequency so that a high-frequency AC passes through the induction coil to produce a rapidly alternating magnetic field. (The devices and wiring are designed to ensure home and appliance safety).
For this type of heating, cookware containing iron will produce heat.1 Iron conducts electricity but does so relatively poorly. In other words, it has enough resistance that the current converts to heat.
Most of the heat used to cook food on an induction cooktop comes from this electrical resistance, and the rest comes from heat generated by changes in the magnetic structure of the cookwareHowStuffWorks.com 1
For this reason, induction cooktops require ‘induction-ready’ cookware — a type with a special base in the pan to function properly.
Using a non-stick pan on an induction stove
Can we use a non-stick pan on an induction stove? Yes, but not all nonstick cookware can be used on an induction cooktop. You need the type with a magnetic type of metal in the base. Look for cookware labeled ‘induction ready’, ‘induction compatible’, or ‘suitable for induction cooktops’.
Manufacturers design these for induction cooktops and so the bases should not mark the glass cooktop.
Other induction ready cookware to use
Due to the rise in the popularity of induction cookers, many popular brands now make pans suited for cooking on induction systems.
GreenPan is one of many brands with induction-ready cookware. It is a trusted name in the home cooking world and so is one worth considering if you want a product that will work on all types of cooktops. See my reviews of GreenPan’s latest designs that include induction compatible cookware.
How do I keep scratches off my induction cooktop?
You can keep scratches off your glass cooktop by making sure the surface is clear of spills including salt and sugar grains before you use it, and then clean and condition it with ceramic cooktop products. Also important is to avoid moving pots and pans around or across the surface.
If you’ve noticed scratches forming on your induction cooktop, try cleaning it with a damp microfiber cloth and then working in a smidgen of induction-specific cooktop conditioning cream. You can then polish it with a dry cloth. This conditioning will not only improve the look but also help avoid further marking.
Scratches affect the look of an induction cooktop more than anything else. There are certain steps that you can take to prevent scratches from appearing.
- Make sure that you only use liquid-based cleaners for your stovetop. Powdered cleaners typically come with a number of harder particles that could damage the glass surface as you rub the cleaner around.
- Check the bottoms of your pans to make sure they are smooth, as any rough, sharp edges could damage the area in contact with the cooktop. Certain types of cookware need more care than others when used on ceramic or glass cooktops.
Where your pans have less than smooth bases, you can try placing a piece of parchment paper designed for baking between your pans and your stovetop. This will give you an added layer of protection without affecting the heat transfer.
Skip to my step-by-step cleaning of induction cooktop (below) to restore its look and avoid scratches.
Cleaning an Induction Cooktop Surface of Ceramic, Glass
Because the stovetop stays cool, splatters of sauce and the like won’t burn into or crust onto the cooking surface, making cleanup so much easier than with most traditional types.
While induction stoves are simple to clean, what you do need to avoid when cleaning are surface scratches and scrapes.
How To Clean An Induction Cooker
- Wipe with damp sponge.
Remove surface cooking residue from the cooktop (make sure it’s not in operation and the area in contact with the cookware has cooled).
- Apply a smidgen of induction-safe stovetop cleaner
such as Cerama Bryte (you can get this at Amazon – see here), and rub until the remaining residue and marks are removed. Use a damp paper towel or cloth to remove excess.
- Polish with a soft dry cloth.
Simply use a paper towel, dry cloth, or kitchen rag to dry and polish the surface. What will help make this process easier is a quality cleaning product. Make sure that you avoid products such as chlorine bleach-based cleaners, metal cleaning pads, dishwashing agents, or powdery cleaners that could damage your induction surface.
Can you burn yourself on an induction cooktop?
Yes, you can burn yourself on an induction cooktop if you touch where the pot is in contact with the cooktop during (or immediately after) operation. Outside this, the induction cooktop surface will remain cool to touch.
A gas or electric range (radiant heat) that will be hot to touch and potentially cause burns for a considerable time after you’ve turned it off. An induction cooker is safer because the surroundings remain cool to touch while the cooking is in progress. Only the pans are heated.
The thing to note is that the contact area of a pot on an induction cooktop will be hot to touch during and directly after use. This is because some of the heat from the pot will be transferred to the cooking surface (see my article on when induction cooktops get hot).
- Nicholas Gerbis “How Induction Cooktops Work” 9 December 2009. HowStuffWorks.com. Accessed 27 October 2019.