How Does Induction Cooking Work: 2021 Secrets Revealed

How does induction cooking work? I’m glad you stopped by. It’s taken me a while to fully understand this. The main types are induction ranges and induction cooktops (although portable induction cooktops have been pretty popular recently).

Over the year, there have been many different forms of cooking. From cooking on a direct fire to working with modern technologies such as gas stoves, microwave ovens, and so on.

Cooking technology has come up with new ways of cooking food. One such way has been induction cooking. Induction cooking uses electromagnetism to create heat energy inside the pan itself.

Induction cooking is able to cook food quickly and safely, using less energy. While people may know about induction cooking, not many people know how exactly it works.

indcution cooking, grilled, steak, grilled steak, pan, top view, rosemary

This article takes a closer look at exactly what induction cooking is, and answers the question how does induction cooking work, in detail.

Table of Contents

What is Induction?

Before getting into induction cooking, it is essential that we understand what induction actually is and how an induction cooktop works.

Induction is basically electromagnetic induction, which uses the magnetic field to generate electricity. Induction makes use of electromagnetism to generate and transfer energy. The energy produced releases heat which can be used for many purposes, including cooking.

magnetic, field, lines, magnetic field

Apart from cooking, induction is also used in electric toothbrushes where the battery and the electromagnetic field are able to produce energy that allows the brush to move around.

What is Induction Cooking?

Induction cooking is a cooking method that was introduced in the early 1990s and only went mainstream recently. This method of cooking has now gradually gained popularity as many kitchens are opting for electric cooktops.

An induction cooktop will heat the pots and pans directly, through thermal conduction. Instead of using a gas-heated element, induction cooking makes use of magnetic induction as a heat source.

Induction cooking is not only able to reach a consistent and precise temperature, but also provides faster heating as compared to a gas heat source.

During induction cooking, the surface generally stays relatively cool while the glass cooktop is easy to handle and clean. 

How does induction cooking work?

Induction Cooking is an alternate way to cook food as opposed to other traditional cooking methods. Induction cooking is made possible by using induction cooktops.

Induction Cooktops

An induction cooktop consists of a coiled copper wire that is basically an electromagnet that you can cook with.

Induction cooktops come with a glass top. Underneath the glass cooktop, there is an electronically controlled coil of copper. The coiled copper wire underneath the glass top is responsible for producing heat and we will see how!

Process of Induction in the Cooktop

The process of induction starts when you turn on the power supply. As soon as there is an electrical current flowing through the coil, a magnetic field is produced around the coil.

A constant source of power is able to produce a constant magnetic field. Whereas a fluctuating magnetic field is only produced by an electrical current that is constantly changing. Therefore, induction cooking makes use of alternating current, which keeps on changing its direction.

As a result of fluctuating current, the magnetic field begins fluctuating as well. This, indirectly, produces heat. Heat is not generated directly as it is for open flame gas cooktops. If you ever put your hand above induction cooktops, you will realize that it is pretty cool and you won’t feel a thing. However, as a caution, don’t put your hand on the cooktop that has been recently turned on for cooking.

Induction between the Induction Cooktop and the Pan

For induction stoves, you have to use specific kinds of pots and pans that are able to induct heat. A suitable pot or pan would be made up of stainless steel etc.

When you place your pot or pan over the induction stove, the magnetic field produced by the induction cooktop will penetrate the cooking vessel. This results in a fluctuating magnetic field moving around the base and the sides of your pot or pan. This also produces an electric current in the cooking pan.

However, this is not the same current as the one that is flowing through your induction cooktop. This specific current comes from the resulting oscillating magnetic field. It whirls through the cookware. This specific type of current is known as the Eddy current.

The Eddy current has movement that is able to produce heat. The energy dissipated by the magnetic field and electric currents gets the pan to heat up.

This heat is conducted through the pan, directly into the food. Heat is also transferred through convection currents.

Electronic, Dual Induction

Therefore, induction enables the cooktop to function properly and ensures basic functionalities such as cooking products on the cooktop.

Advantages of Induction cooktops

Induction cooktops are now getting popularized and there are many advantages to it. Here are some of the few reasons why you should invest in an induction cooktop:

Efficiency and speed

Induction cooktops have higher energy efficiency as it is able to utilize all of the energy produced.  Other cooking methods generate heat energy that largely goes into waste as it is radiated out into the atmosphere. A traditional cooking method will only transfer heat indirectly, and not directly like it is done on induction stoves.

Induction cooktops will transfer energy directly to the pots and pan as the heat is produced in the pan. The cooktop only produces electromagnetic fields. This is the reason why induction cooktops have high energy efficiency.

Because of this efficiency, Induction cooking is also very quick in terms of speed. The energy produced gets transferred to the food more quickly as the pan is able to get hot quicker. If you compare it to traditional stoves, induction stoves will boil your water faster.

Easy to Handle

Induction stoves have a cooking surface that is generally made up of either glass or ceramic. These two cooking surfaces are very easy to clean.

You can easily wipe down the smooth surface of your induction stoves with a piece of cloth. Since heat is directly produced in pans, the cooktops can be cleaned immediately after cooking as the top would not be as hot.

Induction cooktops also offer precise temperature control. You can use the induction hob to control the amount of electric current and magnetic field, which in turn controls the amount of heat transfer. On the other hand, you will see that traditionally heated pans take a while to get hot. With gas, there is always a risk of burning your food or taking a long time to cook food.

Induction cooktops are also very easy to switch on or off. Some specific models come with automatic features as well that can include a built-in timer, built-in temperature sensor, or even remote control that can be managed from your smartphone apps.

Safety

When it comes to induction cooking, you will see that there is no open flame that can harm you. This makes an induction cooker extremely safe to use since there will be no heat to burn you directly.

The cooktop itself also does not get very hot as only cookware heats up. Whereas a traditional cooktop is more of a safety hazard due to its direct flame design.

Less pollution

Gas cooking involves burning some time of flame that can result in significant amounts of indoor air pollution. Nitrogen oxides can fill up your room which can be pretty damaging to your health as well as your interior.

On the other hand, induction cookers do not release any kind of gas as the energy production process is limited to the cookware and the cooktop. This releases a very less amount of pollution and generally results in a safer cooking process. Pollution is a critical piece of the equation in the gas vs induction cooktop debate.

Disadvantages of Induction cooktops

While Induction cooking can have many advantages, it does come with some drawbacks that we have listed below:

Price

For most people, the high cost of an electric cooktop can be the biggest disadvantage. An induction cooktop is generally two or three times more expensive than an ordinary electric or gas cooktop.

Most people argue that the energy saved with induction cooking can make up with a reduced electric bill. However, according to our calculations, the energy savings are not that significant to pay back for the difference.

However, you will see that as induction cooking is being popularized and is now being seen as a valid form of cooking, the prices of the electric cooktops are also reducing. This purchase will definitely be an investment that can be worthwhile.

Specific Pots and Pans

Another drawback of induction cooking is that it only works properly when it is used with specific kinds of pots and pans. This means that you have to get pots or pas that contain iron. The reason why iron cookware is recommended is that it is the only metal that is able to produce the eddy current or generate heat properly. If you need some inspiration of ideas, we rounded up the top-rated induction cookware.

Other metals such as copper, aluminum, and glass are strongly discouraged. While Iron-based pots and pans are easily available, it can be costly to replace all of your cooking vessels if you think about opting for the induction method.

Induction compatible pans often come with insulated outer bodies made up of ceramics or heatproof plastics. The outer bodies make it easier to handle the heated pans and help them stay relatively cool to the touch.

You will also find expensive options that can have built-in temperature sensors. These sensors help the cooktop regulate the power supply. Some cookware is also automatic and remote-controlled using smartphone apps. However, all induction cookware needs to be cared for

Noise

While it may be minor, some people have an issue with how induction cooking produces a small amount of noise. This noise is a result of the built-in cooling fans and radio-frequency interference.

While the noise may be bearable, it does pose a small threat for people with heart problems who wear a heart pacemaker. However, this particular problem can also be ignored unless absolutely essential.

Conclusion

Previously you might have thought that induction is like a complicated new technology that might be too difficult to understand. But this article helps you understand every single detail about how it works and whether you should get this particular technology into your kitchen or not.

young woman making an omelet in the frying pan

The bottom line is that if you want speedy cooking with control over the temperature, then you should go for induction cooking. Induction enhances your cooking experience as it heats your food faster and precisely, without wasting any energy.

Not only this, but this method allows for easy cleanup and safe cooking. If the high initial cost is not an issue, then you should definitely look into this. While you may have to purchase an entirely new set of pots and pans, you will see that this way of cooking will revolutionize the way you cook. Now that you feel like you can answer “How does induction cooking work” – if you are interested in learning about the best induction cooktops, check out our guide to induction cooktops!

Colin Matthews

Colin is a passionate chef by trade and a kitchen nerd on the side. Growing up in the kitchen, Colin has always had a passion for learning the absolute best way to cook a dish. He quickly realized most kitchens have duplicate cookware and small appliances and had to decide which ones were going to be the “keepers” – causing him to take a closer look at all his products.

As it turns out, small differences make a big impact on the experience. Whether it’s how hard you have to press a microwave button, to how long a cast iron skillet stays warm after you turn off the heat, these little difference changed everything.