Induction cooktops are the best cooktop technology available in the market as of now. It supports and is compatible with modern lifestyle cuisines and offer advantages such as energy efficiency and low maintenance.
Due to its excellent advantages, more and more people are switching to induction from gas or electric cooktops.
Related articles: Induction Vs Gas Cooktops | Induction Vs Electric Cooktops
Do Induction Cooktops Get Hot?
Before introducing you to the workings of this induction cooktops, let me answer your query.
Induction cooktops do get hot but only in the area where the cookware is kept. This means that these are safe and even if you touch the cooking zone on an induction cooktop while it’s switched on, it’s not going to burn you. But be cautious as it will heat up the cookware on it and you don’t want to touch hot cookware.
How Do Induction Cooktops Generate Heat
Heat without fire… how? It’s not magic.
Its applied science. The science behind an induction cooktop.
The heat is produced directly in the cookware used to cook food. The cooktop doesn’t actually generate heat itself but rather induces it in the cookware.
The induction cooktop cuts out the intermediate step of heating up a burner and then transferring the heat to the pot. This is also the reason that the cooktop doesn’t get hot when switched on unless there is a pan/pot placed on it.
The heat is transferred from the cooking pot base to the glass through conduction, just like any hot cookware base would transfer heat to the countertop area where it is kept.
The lack of direct heat makes them safer.
As soon as you remove the cookware, the heating stops. And because heat is going from pan to cooktop, it never gets as hot as in case of electric cooktops.
Only the area below the cookware gets heated up while the rest of the cooktop remains cool to touch. And because of this unique characteristic, the spills do not burn on the cooktop. It is very easy to clean the cooktop with a swipe.
What type of Cookware can be used on Induction?
Also, for the cookware to get heated up, it needs to be a magnetically conductive material or a ferromagnetic material so that heat can be induced inside it by the induction.
They are also called as induction compatible materials. One method of checking whether your pots and pans are induction ready is by placing a magnet to the base of the cookware (even a fridge magnet would do).
If it sticks it is induction compatible. Induction compatible materials include iron, stainless steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron, and steel.
If the cookware has some form of iron like copper fully clad by stainless steel or aluminum fully clad by stainless steel then it will work on induction as the material clad is ferromagnetic.
If you happen to put glass cookware or aluminum or copper, they will not get hot when you put them on an induction cooktop. This is because they do not support the induction process so no heat will be generated.
How heat is produced – the science behind it
The word induction is a short form of electromagnetic induction. It works on the principle of generating heat energy with the help of magnetism through a coil of wire into the cookware.
When you rub your hands together – it generates heat. This is due to the friction in your hands. The faster your rub, the more heat is generated. Now a similar principle works when it comes to induction cooking, except that in this case, instead of friction between the hands, it’s the friction created by the electrons in the cookware.
While gas or electric requires turning on a heat source, induction cooking makes a heat source out of the cookware itself.
When induction is powered on, an electromagnetic current begins flowing through a copper coil also called as the heating element.
When we put induction-ready cookware on top of induction, the electromagnetic current pulls the pan’s electrons into a formation. The electrons try to resist getting into this formation which ends up creating the friction. This constant pull and push of the electrons create friction inside the cookware. which in turn, creates heat.
In this entire process, note that the heat is generated by the cookware and not the cooktop. And therefore, when the induction is switched on, it doesn’t get hot unless it has cookware on it.
This means that accidentally touching will not cause any burns since the induction remains cool even if it’s switched on. In case it’s switched on and has cookware on it, the cookware to get heated but the induction will remain cool.
There is no fear of gas leaks. There is no worry about gas fumes or leaving the electric socket on since it will only work with cookware on top.
There are also sensors which automatically shut the induction off if the cooking vessel overheats. In case there is no pan on the induction and it is left on by mistake, no heat will be produced which is a good safety feature.
Residual Transient Heat – Something to be cautious about
As I mentioned, when using an induction cooktop, the heat is generated only in the cookware. This means that when you’re done cooking, there might be some mild traces of residual transient heat which quickly dissipates.
In most of the induction cooktop, there is an in-built fan that runs automatically during and after cooking. This fan also helps in cooling down of the cooktop.
Unlike Gas or Electric stove, with an induction cooktop, almost all the heat is used for cooking, and less is dissipated in the environment. This also leads to less heat in the kitchen as compared to gas or electric stove.
In almost all inductions there is a residual heat button which indicates if the induction hob area where the cooking took place is hot. The residual heat gets dissipated very fast.
The heat button switches off indicating that cooktop is now safe to touch even above element where the cooking took place.
While the residual heat button displays hot, you can use this heat to melt certain foods or keep food warm over the heating element.
No longer will cooking be a sweaty, hot, and dangerous task it once used to be.
As I have mentioned earlier, the heat is very minimal and that too due to transfer from cookware to the cooktop. The rest of the area remains cool to touch. You can even try putting ice or uncooked egg. The ice won’t melt and neither will the egg start cooking.
Don’t worry at all about the induction cooktop becoming hot and get started with that induction with a carefree mind even if you have small inquisitive children around. Accidental touching will cause them no harm whatsoever. Happy cooking!