Induction cooking has been around for quite some time, but it has only recently gained popularity in the country.
The global market for the induction cooktops reached $18.6 billion in 2018, and it’s expected to rise at a substantial rate in the future.
Even though induction cooking has clear benefits over conventional electrical and gas cooking, it is still struggling to achieve a decent footing in the cookware market.
And one of the reasons for this is induction cooktops’ incompatibility with some of the traditional cookware.
If you are considering a switch to induction cooking, it might be a good idea to know whether or not your current cookware is induction-ready.
What makes cookware an induction-ready one?
The presence of Ferromagnetic materials in the cookware makes them induction-ready.
As you may or may not know, induction cooking works on the principle of magnetic induction.
It’s the same principle that we see in most simple motors, albeit in a different way.
In induction cooking, an electromagnet works like a “heater” (or burner) in a conventional electric or gas stove.
But unlike other stoves, an induction cooktop’s ability to heat depends heavily upon the cookware itself.
Because the cookware acts as part of the induction process, so without the right cookware or what we call induction-ready cookware, induction cooking won’t work.
Or it won’t work as efficiently as it would with the right utensils.
So what makes for induction-ready cookware? Here is where the second part of the process comes in.
You have an electromagnetic “heater,” which emits electromagnetic waves to energize the particles of the cookware.
As a result, the whole pan or pot heats up, cooking what’s inside.
What if there isn’t any induction-ready cookware placed on the cooktop?
The process simply wouldn’t work. If you place a pot made out of materials that do not allow magnetic induction, nothing will happen.
Most induction cooktops issue a warning to let you know that the heating process hasn’t started.
If your cookware is made up of or contains significant amounts of ferromagnetic materials (primarily iron), it will allow induction to start.
Induction-ready cookware on an induction cooktop will work just like they would on a normal stove.
Better even, because this process allows much better and even heat distribution throughout the body of the cookware.
And it also offers a significantly finer temperature control than conventional heating methods.
How to know if your cookware is induction-ready?
Many companies make cookware, especially for induction cooktops.
Such pans and pots work on conventional stoves as well, so many people do not understand the difference.
Almost all induction-ready cookware (the ones that are specially designed for that purpose), have an embossed symbol or written instruction, marking it as induction-compatible that can be used over an induction cooktop.
For your existing cookware that doesn’t have any such indications on it, there is another simple way to determine whether they can be used on an induction cooktop or not.
You can simply use a magnet and attach it at the base of the pot/pan you want to check.
If the magnet sticks, the means your cookware has ferromagnetic makeup, and it will work with your induction stove.
If it doesn’t stick, then you can’t use that cookware for induction cooking.
For mixed material based cookware, you might see some slight attraction, which may indicate partial induction, but it might not be enough to work at full efficiency of your cooktop.
Cast iron and most stainless steel cookware (apart from the non-magnetic kind) are induction-ready by default since their core construction material is iron.
In contrast, most aluminum-based, Teflon non-stick or ceramic pots and pans are not induction-ready.
Although many manufacturers are now making aluminum cookware with an induction base, and since this cookware can be used on conventional stoves as well, they make for an overall good choice.
Another important characteristic of induction-ready cookware is that it will have a flat bottom.
Pots and pans with an uneven bottom, even they are made of iron, would not work well with the induction cooktop.
They tend to vibrate, and since the surface of most induction cooktops is flat glass, this vibration produces a lot of noise, and there is a chance that the content of your pot will spill out.
Another category of induction-ready cookware that is available in the market is where a layer of iron or another ferromagnetic metal is sandwiched between another material.
This usually works well since the two metals are basically fused together, so there aren’t any issues with the heat conduction within the body of the cookware.
But since the two metals react differently to the induction phenomena, i.e., one is heating up, and one is not, this cookware tends to vibrate (not violently) and issue a hissing sound.
It can be controlled with better metal to metal ratios and changing the thickness of the metal layers.
So if you are going for this kind of induction cookware, be sure to choose something high quality and well-made, so you are not constantly annoyed by the hissing sound.
How to make your regular cookware induction-ready?
You might not want to give up your favorite aluminum pan, just because you bought an induction cooktop.
There is a solution to make non-induction-ready cookware work on an induction cooktop.
And that’s to use an induction adapter plate or an induction cooker diffuser.
It’s basically a flat plate made out of magnetic steel or iron. It heats up very well on an induction cooktop.
And if you place your non-inductive aluminum pan on this adapter plate, it will heat up nicely.
But there is a catch. When you place an induction-ready pot or pan on the cooktop, it heats up evenly, and very fast.
That’s because the whole body of the pot will be taking part in the heating process.
This is different because in other methods i.e., gas or electric stove, the burner or heater only works on the bottom of the surface.
Then the heat travels through the material via conduction.
In the induction method, the whole body of the pot or pan heats up evenly (if all of it is made up of the same material).
But if you use an adapter plate, it’s basically the same conduction process.
Here the adapter plate is taking the place of the heater or burner and transmitting heat to the non-induction-ready pot.
In conclusion, you can make your regular cookware induction-ready, but you will not be able to enjoy the benefit of fast induction cooking.
Induction cooking is a revolutionary process.
And according to most experts, its benefits far outweigh its cons. But the problem is that most cookware is made up of stainless steel, copper, or aluminum.
People prefer stainless steel for its durability and versatility, and copper and aluminum for its ability to heat up fast and evenly.
This reliance on certain materials for cookware construction is preventing a lot of people from moving on to induction cooking.
It might be stopping you for that reason.
But if you consider the benefits, you might find investing in induction-ready cookware and good cooktops, worth your investment.
The very first benefit is safety. Induction cooktops are significantly safer than other stoves because they don’t have an exposed burner or heating element.
The cooktop, even when boiling water in a pot, barely gets hot itself.
Induction cooktops have an efficiency of 90% compared to 55% of the electric coil.
Since it’s a highly efficient heating method, induction cooking consumes much less electricity, and consequently, helps you save money on your energy bill.
You can easily find induction-ready cookware in your nearby stores or online.
The benefit of most induction-ready cookware is that they can be used on a gas or electric cooking range as well.
But many cast iron or stainless steel pots are not as efficient in distributing heat evenly, as copper and aluminum pots are.
So if you are using both conventional and induction cooking methods, hybrid cookware that combines aluminum with an induction-ready base might be the better option.
In online shopping, you can easily search for induction-ready cookware.
If you are buying from a store, most such cookware will have clear markings on it to indicate that it works on induction cooktops.
Or you can bring along a simple fridge magnet to check whether or not the cookware is ferromagnetic based.
Induction cooking is very temperature sensitive, and you can have a lot more control over precise cooking.
But if you prefer to slow cook your meal, your choice of cookware can have an impact as well.
Pans where ferromagnetic material is sandwiched within a different material or other heavy-based pans might be a better choice for slow-cooking.
Thin, stainless-steel (magnetic) might transfer heat much faster, reducing your cook-time.
Induction-ready cookware also comes in non-stick varieties.