Does Cast Iron Work on Induction Cooktops?
Yes! Cast iron cookware is perfect for use with these ingenious stovetops.
When you have cast iron cookware and an induction cooktop, you have some old and new kitchen technology. Sometimes, though, old and new tech don’t always play well together, and many people have wondered, “Does cast iron work on induction cooktops?”
It’s a valid question, and the answer is a resounding yes. Induction cooktops interact with the cookware material, and cast iron is a terrific medium for this type of stovetop.
How Induction Works
Electromagnetism powers many devices and gadgets in our lives, and the induction cooktop is one of them. Once scientists understood that flowing electricity created a magnetic field, they began to comprehend how to use electricity on larger scales, and electromagnetic discoveries allowed us to have electricity power an entire city grid and more.
Induction is a shorthand term for “electromagnetic induction,” so an induction cooktop creates electricity via a magnetic field. It happens in a specific order and, surprisingly, isn’t all that complicated.
- Beneath the induction cooktop’s glass surface is a coiled length of metal.
- Turning on the power to the coil sends a current through it. That current generates a magnetic field.
- Because the power source is an alternating current, the electrical current constantly reverses direction.
- The magnetic field, as a result, also changes directions, creating a fluctuating magnetic field.
- The magnetic field under and around the cookware generates an electrical current known as an eddy current.
- The eddy current swirls through the cookware’s metal structure. Sending this energy swirling and eddying through the pot’s molecules causes the metal to heat up.
- The heat gets transferred to the pot’s contents, and your food cooks.
You may have noticed the recurrence of the word “magnetic.” Because there’s an electromagnetic field at work, the induction process can’t work with metals that remain unaffected by magnetic fields.
The Right Metal
Some metals aren’t ferromagnetic, meaning they are not drawn to magnets. Metals must contain certain elements to interact with magnets. Most metals in cookware aren’t pure. They’re alloys, but for them to work with magnetic fields, those alloys must contain enough of these elements to allow for the proper interaction.
Those elements are iron, nickel, and cobalt. If you’ve ever had to clean up your granddad’s workshop by running a magnet along the floor to pick up stray nails, you’ve experienced firsthand the strong pull a magnet has on a piece of iron.
But you may have also noticed that the magnet you used to pick up those nails doesn’t stick to the can of Coke you brought to the workshop.
This is because aluminum isn’t a ferromagnetic material, meaning it doesn’t interact with magnets. And your Coke can doesn’t have iron in it (or cobalt or nickel), so the magnet won’t draw the can toward itself.
While your cast iron cookware, such as a dutch oven, isn’t 100% iron, the other elements in it occur as a single-digit percentage of the material. So your cast iron skillet is perfectly suited for use on an induction cooktop.
A copper or aluminum pan, though, won’t work unless it’s been specifically treated and manufactured for induction use.
Now you know that the answer to “does cast iron work on induction cooktops?” is yes. But in addition to cast iron, other types of cookware will work well on an induction cooktop because they contain enough iron to be affected by the magnetic field. These include
- enameled cast iron, and
- many stainless steel pots and pans, though not all of them.
Since we can make stainless steel from a wide variety of metals, there is no absolute answer on whether this kind of cookware will work on an induction cooktop.
Pots and pans that won’t work with induction cooking include:
- some stainless steel cookware
Some exceptions exist, as some aluminum pots have been manufactured for induction use.
If you’re unsure about your cookware, you have two options:
- Some cookware makers list right on the pot whether it’s compatible with induction cooktops.
- Do the magnet test. If a magnet won’t stick to the pot you want to use, that pot won’t work on your induction stove.
Why Induction Cooktops Are Good
One of the main draws to induction cooking runs along the same lines as why microwave cooking has become so popular— it’s faster. But getting water to boil sooner than usual is only one of the good things about induction cooking.
When you turn off your regular electric burner, the heat takes a while to dissipate. As a result, turning off the burner won’t stop the cooking process immediately, and you can still burn what’s in the pan or experience a boil-over.
When you turn off an induction stove, the heat stops right then. When the heat’s on, you have more precise control of it than with a gas or electric stove, too.
You have almost zero energy lost with induction cookware. Does it get hot in the kitchen when you cook? That’s because heat from the stove leaks out into the air due to heat transfer. Instead of heating the food, some of the energy you’re trying to cook with is, instead, heating your kitchen.
Only the pot or pan (and whatever’s in it) heat up on an induction stove, so you’ll be much less likely to sweat while you cook.
The stovetop doesn’t heat up. If you drop a towel on a gas burner while it’s on, you may very soon have an urgent need for a fire extinguisher. But an induction burner will only be hot if a pot has been sitting on it, and only because the pot’s metal is hot and will have transferred some heat to the glass surface.
You are much less likely to burn yourself while cooking on an induction cooktop.
The induction cooktop is an innovative and energy-efficient appliance for your kitchen, as it cooks quickly and safely without wasting gas or electricity by unintentionally heating the air in the rest of the kitchen.
To work properly, induction cooktops need cookware that interacts with magnetic fields.