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. You want to be sure, right?
Is it always safe?
To avoid confusion: I take ‘range’, ‘hob’, ‘cooktop’, and ‘stove top’ to mean the same and use them interchangeably for the purpose of this article.
do induction cooktops get hot?
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.
So why then, when you get your induction cooktop set up at home, would you worry about the cooktop surface getting hot to touch?
Can you touch induction cooktop?
The surface of an induction cooktop gets hot beneath the cooking pan that’s designed to work with it. Outside this, you—or curious little fingers—can touch the surface without getting burned. Except… when the heat light is on…
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.
Why is my induction Hob hot to touch?
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.
So, what is the process that takes place on an induction cooktop cool to touch or that results in hot food? What makes it safer? 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?
How induction works
Induction cooktops use vibration to produce heat. This happens when a coil in the cooktop is energized and it becomes electromagnetic.
If the pot or pan you are using is made of a ferromagnetic material, e.g., an enamel cast iron pot, the magnetic pull of the cooking coil will draw on the molecules in the pot or pan. Their response to that magnetic pull creates vibration that generates heat.
This entire process takes place within the material of the pot or pan.
The vibration generated in the pan generates heat that is transferred directly to the contents within.
As such, there is no heat generated by or within the cooking surface. That’s why the cooking surface stays cool when there is no pan on the surface.
It’s also why no heat generates when using a solid ceramic, glass, aluminum, or copper pan.
And is why one of the advantages of induction cooktops is easy cleanup, as spills don’t burn and harden onto the surface.
Any drips or splatter on the surface are easily removed with an induction vs the traditional electric or gas cooktops without scrubbing and concern with scratching the glass surface.
Since the heat source is a magnet rather than an open flame or an electrical coil, the process is not only more efficient but also safer.
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.
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 safety
As mentioned above, most induction cooktops are equipped with a warning light that lets users know when the cooking surface is hot.
It’s important to consult the owner’s manual of your induction cooktop to determine if yours has a warning light and where that light is.
In addition to the warning light, it’s important to understand how the cooling fan on your induction cooktop works.
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. Until you know your cooktop well enough to be sure that you are safe, proceed with caution.
Because induction cooktops are still a fairly new technology, many people don’t fully understand how they work. As a result, people might not know how to use them safely.
Advertisements that fail to give us the full story can set us up for a bad situation.
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.