About Induction Burners

November 2, 2009 by  

Excerpted from Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen—the New Green Basics Way by Kate Heyhoe


These make me jump for joy. Electromagnetic energy drives these burners, though you need pans made of ferrous materials (like cast iron or stainless steel). They consume less than half the energy of standard coil burners, and they’re superior in cooking performance to gas or electric burners. Single induction burners make handy portable appliances, and some conventional cooktops add a separate induction burner. Details on Portable Induction Burners follow.

Induction Burner

Portable Induction Burners:
Energy-Efficiency in a Box

Full induction cooktops, with fully-loaded price tags, are creeping into the marketplace. But a single induction burner can supplement your existing gas or electric cooktop more affordably.

Induction cooking works by sending a magnetic field through ferrous metal (as in cookware made of iron, steel, or a combination). The reaction creates heat, and it’s this heat that cooks the food. The heat is created from within the pan’s own material; think friction and fast-moving, excited molecules (like the heat generated between your hands when you rub your palms together).

The result: a near instant transfer of energy, with efficient absorption of over 90 percent of this energy (compared to around 40 percent efficiency with gas burners, and 74 percent of conventional electric burners). Plus, the cooker’s surface stays cool, very little heat is released into the kitchen, and the food can actually cook quicker. Since the cooker surface stays cool, absorbing heat only from the cooking vessel, it’s easy to clean (no stuck muck). Plus, with a nifty portable unit, I can cook anywhere there’s a plug. Like out on our wide country deck, in fresh air, with grazing deer and wild turkeys watching.

The first time I boiled pasta or fried steaks on the induction element, I noticed the differences from conventional electric or gas cooking right off the bat. The water boiled sooner, and the fry pan reached perfect searing heat in a flash. Plus, I had instant control; when I turned the dial from high to low, the unit powered down to the lower setting immediately (essentially adjusting the strength of the magnetic field). No waiting for a hot gas or electric element to slug down in speed. And you can maintain constant simmering and very low temperatures (good for melting chocolate) better with induction.

With induction, there’s no learning curve to get the cook up to speed (unlike microwave ovens or speed ovens). You do need to check your cookware: only ferrous metals are induction-compatible, but fortunately this includes everyday iron and steel based cookware. Basic rule: If a magnet sticks to the pan, it will work with induction. (This eliminates glass, copper, and purely aluminum pans.) Most portable units run between 1400 and 2000 watts, on a standard 120 volt power outlet.

For more info or to buy one, visit Fissler Cookstar Induction Pro.


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