Projects & Improvements

The One Major Downside to Induction Stoves

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

There’s no doubt about it: Induction stove tops are convenient. They boil water faster than electric and gas stovetops, allow cooks to control heat quickly and precisely, AND they cool down almost immediately after cooking is done. But, before you replace your existing stovetop, there’s one downside you should consider.

Regular stoves use thermal induction—either a gas flame or electric burner transfers heat to your pots and pans, which in turn warms up the food inside. While induction stove tops look a lot like glass top electric ranges, they use magnetic induction instead. This process relies on a metal coil underneath the surface that, when turned on, generates a magnetic field that reacts with the pan on the stove, causing it to heat up. Interestingly, the burner itself doesn’t get hot. Only the pan.

Here’s the rub: Only some pots and pans pair well with induction stoves. In order for the whole magnetic process to work, you need cookware that contains ferromagnetic material, namely iron. Your beloved and beautiful copper cookware, for example, won’t work on an induction stove top. Nor will glass, or aluminum pots and pans if they don’t have a layer of iron on the bottom. (Note: If you still want to use your favorites, but they aren’t induction-friendly, buy a metal adapter disc, which will interact with the magnetic field, then transfer heat to your non-iron cookware).

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Here’s the good news. Cast-iron cookware, including ceramic- and enamel-covered cast iron like Le Creuset, is great for this type of stove. Depending on their metal makeup, many types of stainless steel cookware can work as well.

Not sure if your pots and pans will work? There’s an easy way to tell if your existing cookware is induction-friendly. Simply touch a magnet to the bottom of the pot or pan. If it sticks, you are good to go.

Otherwise, when shopping for new cookware, be sure that the package says “induction ready.”