In contrast to traditional gas and electric cooker tops -- identified by electric elements or plates, or gas rings -- ceramic hob tops look distinctly different. A smooth, heat-resistant ceramic glass sheet covers the top of the stove, and the sources of heat lie underneath the glass. While there are some differences in the cleaning and maintenance of ceramic hobs, the benefits appear to mark them out as safer, more energy efficient and cleaner than traditional gas or electric stoves.
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Ceramic Glass Manufacture
Glass is not heat resistant unless it has been treated in such a way as to strengthen it. In ceramic glass manufacture, glass is heated to its melting point, at which stage crystals form that contract with heat. These crystals disperse themselves randomly throughout the expanding molten glass. The relationship between contraction and expansion levels out and balances, at which stage continuing heat has no effect as the glass is now heat resistant.
How Ceramic Hobs Provide Heat
Ceramic top stoves are heated by halogen gas within a tungsten light, a tungsten light and a radiant element, or by radiant heat only. This can include gas or conventional electric elements. In some models, heat generates when a cooking pot is placed on top of one of the heat areas, and in others the glass is touch-sensitive. The process is soundless and gives off no gases or fumes.
Disadvantages of a Ceramic Top Stove
Ceramic glass, although strengthened and heat-resistant, is prone to scratches and damage. Do not drop heavy items on it, or scratch it with abrasive cleaners or kitchen utensils. When moving pans from one hob to the next, lift them across rather than sliding them; otherwise you will scratch the glass. Cast-iron cookware is particularly unsuitable for use on ceramic glass because it scratches, and does not provide a completely flat base.
Cleaning Ceramic Hobs
As a ceramic hob is flat and smooth, it is much easier to keep clean than a conventional gas or electric hob. Wipe off spills with a dry or a damp cloth once the top is cool. Lift burnt-on food using a razor-edged tool specifically manufactured for use on ceramic glass. Proprietary nonabrasive cleaners do not discolour or harm the glass, and a conditioner rubbed in after cleaning protects the glass during future use.
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