Are you on the way to begin your adventure with induction technology? There are some things you should probably know about this revolutionary method of nowadays cooking.
There is no magic in its way of working. Just pure science! Let’s see together how it really works, what are its advantages and disadvantages and also how it developed over time.
The history of induction cooking dates from 1933, when Frigidaire, a division of General Motors, talked for the first time about it at the event called “Century of Progress” World’s Fair that was organized in Chicago, United States. Then, in the mid-’50s the division continued to demonstrate and show how induction cookers work.
Until 1970 specialists were rather interested in demonstrating how induction works, and they were not so concerned about how it can be used for cooking. It was not used in general for annealing metals in industrial areas. The development of technology brought new opportunities so people began to see in induction an interesting method for cooking.
The first induction stove was manufactured at the beginning of 1970 in America and was developed by Westinghouse Electric Corporation, the Research and Development division. In 1971, it was put on the public display in Texas. These units were named Cool Top Induction Range and they had a single heating element on the surface.
The next series was also developed at the same Center from Westinghouse Electric Corporation and was suggestively named Cool Top 2. A single burner induction cooktop was offered for 1500$ and it was made from Quadruple (a combination of stainless steel, aluminum and carbon steel). Cool Top 2 ranges had 4 heating elements each of it providing 1600W. The first induction cooktops with 4 burners were sold on the market in the middle of 1980 by Sears, a manufacturer of household appliances. These stoves were provided with low power, limited resistance and there were also some problems with the noise they produced.
But in the next years, both American manufacturers like Cooktek and Luxine and European and Asian manufacturers continued to improve the appliances based on induction technology.
In 2009, the popular brand Panasonic manufactured an entirely-metal induction burner. This could be used with non-ferrous metal vessels but because of this aspect the head produced was lower and so it was less efficient.
Induction cooktops with rapid heating have improved in the late years so that today we can find an impressive diversity of induction unit solutions on the market. Also, the design improved, prices became more and more accessible to a larger segment of customers. Nowadays we can find a lot of reliable brands that manufacture all kinds of induction cooking appliances. Depending on our needs we can buy single induction cooktops, double burners or freestanding induction ranges. Some of them can be incorporated in the counter for a much beautiful and modern view.
And this is not all: compatible cookware is being more and more diverse (like tea kettles, griddles, pots, grills), attractive (from the aesthetical point of view, with different colors and shapes) and practical (made from resistant materials, ergonomic and safe to use).
Taking into account all these aspects we should not be surprised why so many people give up to the traditional way of cooking and step forward to a newer, more efficient and simple to use cooking technique.
How induction technology works
Induction element is a strong magnet that generates a magnetic field under the ceramic cooktop surface.
When a metal cooking vessel is placed on the magnetic field, it induces energy in the material of the cookware or produce electrical contact with the vessel.
The energy transfer results in the heating of the metal, that is of the pot itself. The generated heat in the cookware is controlled by the magnetic field (through settings). So the plate only heats when you place a compatible pan made from metal over it. When it is not in used, it will remain cold so there is no risk for you to get burned.
Here is what happens with induction cooking: a) Electricity feeds a coil that produces a high-frequency electromagnetic field.
b) This electromagnetic field penetrates the magnetic material of the vessel and a circular electric current which generates heat is produced.
c) The heat generated into the cooking vessel is then transferred to the content in it.
d) Nothing outside the cooking vessel is affected by the electromagnetic field and when the pan is removed from the heating element the generation of the heat instantly stops.
So by using induction, the pan becomes itself the main source of heat. In this situation, the hob is a powerful electromagnetic field with high resonance and that is precisely controlled by a sophisticated electronic system.
The main advantage of induction cooking is that the cooking process can be precisely controlled in such a way that the temperature of the pot can be set even in terms of a single degree Celsius. Moreover, the cookware heats instantly.
Advantages and disadvantages
Benefits of induction cooking
1. Temperature setting You can adjust the cooking temperature very precisely and this is an essential factor when we want to achieve a healthier and a better way of cooking.
2. Speed The cookware heats very quickly at what temperature level we want to. Experiments demonstrate that waters begin to boil extremely fast.
3. Safety Because there are no open flames, burns can be avoided. Even the plastic handles of a pan would not melt or burn because there will not be a high temperature in the air. Also, unwanted accidents when children put their little hand on a hot plate is avoided.
4. Cleaning Induction cooktops have a flat surface made of ceramic glass. Because it will always remain cold as only the vessel gets hot, the surface will be much easier to clean.
5. Beautiful and practical design. While portable induction cooktops ca easily be moved and stored, wider versions like drop-in induction stoves can be incorporated in the counter for a much interesting and modern look. They are ergonomic and versatile. You can totally forget about the big and solid traditional gas stove that occupies a lot of useful space in your kitchen.
6. Efficiency. All induction cooktops are equipped with special sensors that will automatically shut them off when there is no pan on the hob. So no energy is wasted with induction technology and you can keep electrical costs at a minimum. From this point of view, we can say these appliances are eco-friendly.
There is a single disadvantage with induction cooking and that is you need special, induction-ready cookware. If you don’t own such pans and pots, you will have to but new cooking sets or else you wouldn’t be able to use the induction cooktop. As I have presented in the How it works section, inductions only work with ferrous materials such as iron, cast iron and stainless steel. It doesn’t work with non-ferrous materials like copper, Pyrex and ceramics.
Induction cooking appliances tend to be a better solution if you are interested in a safer, more economical and more practical way of preparing food in your own comfortable kitchen.
Photo credit: By Andy Dingley (scanner) – Scan from Kennedy, Rankin (1909 edition) Electrical Installations, vol. II, London: Caxton, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10776258