Cooking with induction isn’t the same as using a conventional electric or gas stove. Because of the way it works, not all cookware works on induction stovetops. But how can you tell if a cookware item is induction ready?
There are a couple of ways to find out if you are buying induction ready cookware and if your current pans and pots are induction compatible. There are also ways to make your non-compatible cookware work on an induction cooktop.
However, let’s first take a look at how induction cooking is different than cooking with electric or gas cooktops.
How Do Induction Ready Pots and Pans Work?
An induction cooker works by generating an oscillating electromagnetic field between your pot or pan and magnetic coils located under the surface of the induction cooker. The magnetic energy that is generated in the magnetic field causes the base of the cookware to heat, allowing you to cook.
Many cooks prefer to use induction cookers because:
- They are the most energy-efficient cooktop
- They heat food quickly
- The surface of the induction stove stays cool, making it safer to use
- The stovetop responds to minute temperature changes
Yet, in order to use an induction cooktop or burner, your cookware’s base must have ferromagnetic materials. This means it must contain iron or have a layer in the base with magnetic materials.
Cookware That Is (And Isn’t) Induction Ready
Enamel cast iron, cast iron, steel, and various stainless steel pots and pans are induction ready. Stainless steel can get a bit confusing because it needs to contain iron in order to be used on an induction cooktop. Stainless steel contains many different metals, but it will normally come down to the amount of nickel that has been used to make the cookware. Nickel blocks the electromagnetic field, making it ineffective for induction cooking.
Glass, all-copper and aluminum won’t work with induction stovetops unless there is an added layer on or in the base that has magnetic properties. Today, many manufacturers add magnetic materials to the base of their cookware, but older pots without magnetic materials won’t work.
But why do copper and aluminum not work?
These metals need a much higher frequency in order to generate enough heat to cook your food. These frequencies aren’t built into induction cookers, and because cookware is changing to accommodate induction cooking, it does not make sense to change the cooker. Making these changes would also mean that the induction stovetop would be less energy efficient.
Telling if Cookware Is Induction Ready
It is actually really simple to work out if your pans and pots are induction ready or not.
Place a magnet on the base of your pot or pan. If it sticks to the base, it is induction ready and can be used on your induction cooker. If it is attracted to the pot or pan, but doesn’t stick firmly, it may work, but will probably have a low efficiency level. If the magnet has no pull toward the base of the pot or pan, it doesn’t have the metals needed to create heat with an induction cooker.
Hint: A regular refrigerator magnet is perfect for testing induction readiness. Before you head out to buy your induction cookware, grab a magnet from the fridge to test different pans and pots.
Most of the time, you won’t need the magnet as many manufacturers now state whether a cookware item is induction compatible by placing a symbol (which looks like a coil or a zig-zag) on the base of the item or it will state so on the product’s packaging.
If you don’t have a magnet, another way to check is to pour a little bit of water into the cookware item and place it on the induction cooker. If the display begins to flash, the pot or pan is not induction ready.
Using Induction Cookware
Thanks to induction cooking becoming more popular over the last few years, there has been an increase in induction ready cookware that is available. Before purchasing, look at various compatible cookware items so you can find exactly what you want.
However, if you want an induction cooker, but your favorite cookware items are not induction ready, there may be a way to solve the problem so you can use them. Products such as induction discs can be used under the pan when cooking to create a magnetic reaction.
When you are shopping for cookware to use on your induction stove, keep an eye out for induction ready symbols on the base of the pot or pan. Remember to also bring a magnet so you can check. This ensures that you will only select cookware that is compatible with induction stovetops.