While induction cooking has been used in commercial kitchens for many years, particularly in Europe, it is only now gaining acceptance in household kitchens. In the past, induction cooktop technology was too exensive for household use, and there were issues of cooktop durability and longevity. Advancements have been made, and household induction cooktops may be purchased in the $200-$300 range.
What is induction cooking? An induction cooktop does not produce heat as would a traditional gas or electric burner. Instead, the induction cooktop produces an oscillating high-frequency electromagnetic field that induces electric currents inside the pot or pan itself, and the natural resistance by the metal to the electric currents results in instant heating. This heat is then transfered to the food inside the pot or pan for the cooking process.
Not every kitchen pot or pan is induction ready. In order for the induction cooktop to induce electric currents inside the cooking vessel, it must contain ferromagnetic metal (i.e. attracted to a magnet), such as cast iron. Stainless steel (18/10) is NOT ferromagnetic, but advanced brands of stainless steel cookware utilize an external or internal layer of chrome steel which is ferromagnetic for induction cooktops. Aluminum is not ferromagnetic.
There are significant advantages of induction cooking versus traditional heating methods. Firstly, up to 90% of the energy used in operating an induction cooktop goes into the heating of food versus 40% heating efficiency by conventional methods. This results in big energy savings while keeping the kitchen cooler without unused heat filling the room. Another important advantage of induction cooking is its instant, precise, and fast heat control. In less than a minute, you can bring a saucepan of water to a boil.
Safe. Since the induction cooktop does not produce heat, a person, even a child, can touch the cooktop surface before, during, or after cooking without harm. Modern induction cooktops also use sensors to detect whether a ferromagnet cooking vessel in on the cooktop or not, and if not, it turns off the unit’s electromagnetic field.
Portable and versatile. Single cooktop units weigh less than 10 lbs and operate from any standard 110 volt outlet. Not only for the kitchen, induction cooktops are ideal for cooking at the office, in a dorm room, or on your boat.