Induction cooking differs from traditional gas and electric range cooking. Here’s what to know about your induction cooktop – When it get hots to touch and what to do about it…
Why this is important: A big selling point of induction cooktops is the cooking surface will not get hot. This suggests safety for you and your family. But did you know that an induction cooktop can be hot to touch? Read on…
To avoid confusion: I use the words ‘range’, ‘hob’, ‘cooktop’, and ‘stove top’ interchangeably, to mean the same, for the purpose of this article.
I don’t have an induction cooktop but I have done some research into them as they are popular and remain an option for the future. Here’s what I’ve found out about touching induction cooktops (and when they get hot to touch).
Can you touch induction cooktop without getting burned? Yes, you—or curious little fingers—can touch the surface without getting burned. Except… when the heat light is on…
When induction cooktops are cool
You may have seen the demonstrations for induction cooktops where they use an induction compatible pot or pan that has been cut in half and only half of the pan is placed on the cooktop.
While the cooktop cooks an egg inside the pan on one side, the other half of the cooking surface remains so cool that the egg doesn’t cook much less burn a person who touches it.
It’s an oldie, but in case you haven’t seen this video…
So why then, when you get your induction cooktop set up at home, would you worry about the cooktop surface getting hot to touch?
When induction Hobs are hot
So, what is the process that takes place on an induction cooktop cool to touch or that results in hot food? And, perhaps most importantly, if it is so safe and efficient—why do you still need to be careful around the cooktop after using it?
Understanding where the heat comes from and where it goes is the key to understanding how your induction cooktop works to heat your food and why the surface might be warm or hot when you touch it.
How induction works
Induction cooktops use vibration to produce heat. This happens when a coil in the cooktop is energized through electromagnetism. A visual best explains this…
The pot or pan has to have a ferromagnetic material in the base for a magnetic pull, which creates vibration that generates heat.
As such, there is no heat generated by or within the cooking surface of the stove. That’s why it stays cool when there is no pan on the surface, when using pure ceramic, glass, aluminum, or copper pan, and why spills don’t burn and harden onto the surface.
Residual heat transference
You probably wouldn’t take a pot full of boiling water, simmering stew, or some other hot food directly from the stovetop to your granite countertop or your wooden kitchen table.
You would use something like a potholder, a cooling rack, or a trivet to protect those surfaces from being heat damaged by the pan. Well, the cooking surface of your induction cooktop is no different than those other surfaces.
When you heat a pot on an induction cooktop, some of the heat from the pot will be transferred to the cooking surface. Since heat tends to rise, the amount of heat energy lost to the cooking surface will be minimal, but it does happen.
If you were to put your hand on the cooking surface immediately after removing a pot of boiling water, you would feel the heat—in fact; you might get burned.
The heat that is transferred dissipates rapidly but not instantly. So, it is important to recognize the potential danger to you and your family.
It’s not the same amount of risk that you would find on a gas range or an electric cooktop, but it is worth worrying about. That’s why most induction ranges come with a warning light that alerts users to a hot surface.
Here’s a video from GE explaining about transferred heat and warning lights…
If you don’t know how induction cooktops work and just take the commercials and infomercials at their word, you might not realize that a reduced risk of burns is not the same as zero risks of burns. Because heating occurs, heat will be present.
Heat can be transferred from one material to another. If enough is transferred from the pot or pan to the cooktop, then the cooktop will get hot enough to burn a user.
Induction cooktop warning light
As mentioned above, most induction cooktops are equipped with a warning light to indicate when the cooking surface remains hot.
Check the owner’s manual of your induction cooktop to determine if yours has a warning light and where that light is.
As you become familiar with your cooktop, you’ll get a better understanding of how long it takes the cooking surface to cool completely after use.
Your induction cooktop will retain heat after use and an indicator should warn of this. It’s important to know this and why and what to do about it.
Because induction cooktops are relatively new technology (compared to electric and gas), many people don’t fully understand how they work.
Advertisements can fail to give us the full story.
Induction cooktops have many advantages, especially the two or single burner types that I cover in my article on portable induction cookers.
In order to avoid negative consequences, it’s important to know how induction cooktops work and how to use them safely.