The Induction Cooker Explored

Chef’s have always looked at them with contempt, the occasional jealousy. I mean, what’s a kitchen like without fire, sweltering heat, and a bunch of rough cooks, right? Induction cookers sit pretty all polished, and look not like the sort that can withstand the brutality of a professional kitchen. There have also been some myths that deter many from the effectiveness of induction. We explore the induction cooker – how does it work, and does it measure up with other cooking methods. In the process we hope to answer your burning questions and crush some stereotypes \.

How does induction work?

Remember the primary school science experiment where you had a battery, a piece of iron rod with a copper coil wrapped around it? With the switch turned on, the rod would instantly become magnetic, sucking in steel dust and paper clips. If you understand this theory of electromagnetism, then you would have grasped the basis of induction cooking.

The induction cooker is a dark, sexy sleek beast. Beneath it, is a large copper coil that generates a pulsating electromagnetic field. When the pot is placed in that field, it acts as the second conductor and a current is induced on it. That current is converted to heat inside the cookware, which is used to cook the food. This field penetrates the base of the pot you place on it. The iron molecules vibrate at tens of thousands of times a second, and creates an electromagnetic current. Because iron is a poor electrical conductor, it provides great resistance,The friction between these molecules generates heat. Hence induction cooking happens from WITHIN the pot! – crazy. Only pans which are ferrous (magnetic) eg. cast iron and stainless steel can be used. Aluminium, Cooper, or non magnetic stainless steel may not be used. If you are unsure if you need to change your pot, place a magnet and see if it sticks.

How did induction heating come about?

Early in the 20th century, engineers were looking for ways to harness heat from induction to melt steel since it was an improbable to use gas to do so. In 1927, EFCO, a company from England devised a way to melt steel- using medium frequency induction heating. Modern implementation in the USA dates from the early 1970s, with work done at the Research & Development Centre of Westinghouse Electric Corporation.

I heard that induction isn’t AS powerful as gas.

The biggest myth in the world! The facts are laid out-induction is equally, if not MORE powerful than gas. The average home induction cooker is as powerful as pro- gas stoves, the kind used in professional kitchens.

The highest power gas burner to be found anywhere in the residential market is 22,000 BTU/hour, equivalent to 1.8 kW. A Large induction element 3.7-kW – equivalent to 26,500 BTU/hour of gas. In comparison, a regular small home stove of medium size produces just:9,000 BTU/hour gas = 1.25 kW induction. Whereas a small to medium induction cooker produces 2.4kW of power.

If you are looking at more detailed explanation, is a great place.

Induction Advantages

– Safety for families with young children. You don’t have knobs that they can turn easily, and have ZERO chance of accidental gas leaks in the house.

– Cooler kitchens, due to little heat loss to its surroundings. Direct heat changes to the food contents. (Eg. not affected by surrounding wind/temperature etc.)

– High efficiency – Boil your water much much faster! Less standing around when you can get busy watching telly.

– Instantaneous heat changes. When you need a power booster, you’ve got it.

Gas Advantages

– Cost. Despite its ineffeciencies, the cost of the gas cooker, as well as the

– The ease of gradual heat control. When you adjust heat settings, the gradual change makes it more easy to ‘feel’ your cooking.

– Ability to use pots of most materials. Induction can’t use non ferrous metals. 

– Heavy duty. Gas is built as a tank. Professional kitchens operate in a rough and rumble way. Ginormous pots, constant slamming, lifting, and shoving. We feel that gas can..take the hardship. Hence gas will have it’s place in the professional kitchen, but many restaurants eg. fine dining restaurants where scale is less of a concern, are more suited to induction cooking.

My ring is made of iron.. will my finger be in danger?

We have heard a few people have lost their fingers….just kidding! The induction circuit requires a minimum size to be activated – something of a size of a small pot. Don’t worry, your fingers are safe for now.

Will my electricity bills skyrocket?

If we are talking about cost of induction cooking, it truly is quite difficult to quantify. Pricing of gas and electricity fluctuates perpetually all the time. If you are a natural gas user, and am thinking of changing to induction, you would probably ask, is it cost efficient? Based on an average house hold of cooking 30 mins a day, 5 days a week. The average cost of gas cooking would be $4-6 a month, and $6-9 for induction.The increase in cost would be approximately $3/month. That accounts to about $40/ year.

A study has shown that induction cooking only accounts for about 2.8% of total electricity bills. The reality is that you would actually be saving much more money just by changing a lightbulb to an energy saving one.

If you are hardcore enough to be looking at the breakdown, here’s a guide to help you do the math.

Although gas is sliggghtllyyyy cheaper today, let us be reminded of the effecicency of the cookers. A large pot of water boils almost 10 times faster with induction, that saves me heaps of time cooking. Time=money!

Looking forward, an important question for us to ask is, which is more environmentally responsible. Gas will always be a diminishing natural resource that is mined from the earth, that makes me feel slightly, bad. Electricity on the other hand, can be generated from renewable sources like solar power etc. Do consider this fact if you decide to make the switch.

Induction at the Lab

Let us recap on the induction cooker. Electromagnetic waves are generated that causes molecules in the ferrous pots to vibrate at an absurd frequency. This friction between molecules causes heat to be generated from WITHIN the cooking vessel. Induction’s efficiency goes up to 90%, meaning we can cook much faster and more effectively. It is also cleaner (no fumes from combustion), easier on the eye (smooth flat top), and MOST importantly, super safe – especially with children around. We are using induction at Eureka Lab because, it simply is superior than gas in so many ways! It is so much cleaner and powerful to use, but also it suits our needs in every way.