An induction cooktop is an energy efficient choice for a serious cook. Induction cooktops cook food faster and more evenly with less energy expenditure than a traditional gas or electric stove. However, not all pots and pans will work on an induction cooktop.
How Induction Cooktops Work
Induction cooktops work by generating a magnetic field to create electric currents in a pan placed on the burner. Because pans containing iron are poor conductors of electricity, most of the energy that is generated is transferred to the contents of the pan in the form of heat. This is why induction cooktops cook food so quickly -- the heat actually comes from the cookware instead of from the burner. In addition, induction cooktops cool more quickly once the hot pan is removed since the burner never actually gets hot.
What to Look For
When purchasing pans for your new induction cooktop, look for materials that are poor conductors of electricity, like iron. Pans made of cast iron, stainless steel and layers of stainless steel are all good choices for an induction cooktop, while pans that are made only of glass, copper or aluminium conduct electricity too well to generate enough heat. Some pans are designed specifically for induction cooktops but if your current pans are made from cast iron or stainless steel they will probably work.
How to Choose Pans
Cast iron is one of the best choices for induction cooking because it will heat quickly and conduct its heat evenly. Enamelled cast iron will also work. If cast iron is too heavy for you to us, try stainless steel. Look ,for pans with thick sturdy bottoms that conduct heat evenly. Choose pans with a smooth bottom that won't scratch your cooktop.
Testing a Pan
As a general rule of thumb, if a magnet will stick to the bottom of your pan, then the pan should work on your induction cooktop. Because of this, it is helpful to keep a small magnet handy when you shop for pots or pans to use on your induction cooktop. This will allow you to quickly test whether or not a particular pan will work.
If you have a favourite pot or pan that you cannot use on an induction cooktop, consider purchasing an induction disk. An induction disk is a flat disk that heats up when you place it on an induction cooktop. Once it is heated, you place your traditional pan on the disk and the heat will transfer through the disk to your pan. This allows you to use any pot or pan on an induction cooktop.