Induction cooktops are perhaps one of the most challenging cooktops to find pots and pans to work with.
Most pots and pans are labeled with the types of cooktops they are compatible with and more often than not, induction is not included in that list.
Induction cooktops look like your everyday glass cooktop but it’s slightly different in overall build.
These cooktops are known for cooking more quickly and cooling down super fast when you finish cooking. However, the materials are also a bit sensitive and can scratch easily as well.
There are also a lot of misconceptions about using certain materials with induction cooktops.
So, how do you use cast iron on an induction cooktop? When using cast iron on an induction cooktop, remember to be careful as it can scratch the cooktop. Avoiding any sliding or excessive movement of the pan can greatly help, as well as using a paper towel on top of the cooktop, and even smoothing the bottom of the cast iron can mitigate any potential damage to your cooktop.
You do want to make sure that the pan you use is compatible but you can typically find something in any type of pan. You can use cast iron but you need to be aware of some things when you do.
In this guide, we will walk you through a complete tutorial about using cast iron with an induction cooktop.
We will make sure that you have everything you need to know to use cast iron on your induction cooktop and share with you some pros and cons for using cast iron on induction as well.
Keep reading to learn more about using cast iron with an induction cooktop.
What Exactly is an Induction Cooktop?
Induction cooktops have become increasingly popular over the years. They look a lot like glass or ceramic cooktops with the specified rings or circles that get warm for cooking purposes.
There is no open flame and not even a lit surface, like the red of glass stovetops.
That glow you are familiar with from electric cooktops is caused by a cooking element but the induction cooktop has an electromagnetic field so the glow doesn’t happen.
Most producers have incorporated various things so there are cues to indicate when the stovetop is on for safety purposes.
Induction ovens are almost the same as any other type of oven as well, with the same capabilities as a whole.
Induction cooktops are known for their speed. They cook quickly but efficiently and accurately and they also cool down quickly when you turn them off.
You could potentially save up to 4 minutes for a pot of boiling water.
With an induction cooktop, the heat transfers through the glass on the stove directly to the pan, when the pan is removed from the surface heat is no longer being transferred.
These cooktops don’t get as hot to the touch as a traditional electric cooktop.
Because of this unique heat transfer method, you could accidentally turn a burner on but it really won’t heat up unless a pan is actually on the burner.
The burners sometimes make a humming noise or you may hear fan noises as well.
There are limitations to induction burners and you will need to be sure that you use pans that are labeled as being compatible with induction cooktops.
There needs to be a bit of magnetics to the pan in order for it to really be compatible.
A good way to test your current pans would be to see if a magnet sticks to the bottom of the pans. This will then work with the electromagnetic design of the induction cooking surface.
Cast Iron Pans Explained
Cast iron pans have been around for a lot of years. They are unique and heavy and they are a favorite in the kitchen for many types of foods.
They are known for their durability as well as their heat retention and you can use these pans even in extreme heat. This makes them a versatile cooking companion.
Working with cast iron does require some skill. You have to season the cookware for it to work like it should and not stick to everything you cook.
They also require some care when you are cleaning them so you don’t end up with a rusty pan or a cracking surface.
These pans are made with a combination of alloy, carbon, and iron and then molded to create the pot or pan you are using. Those materials are cast into a solid, which creates the cast iron pans we know and love.
The result also leaves imperfections on the pan, with a bit of a grittier finish on them.
Many people feel that there are health benefits to cooking with cast iron as well.
When you cook with cast iron, it is quite feasible that when you cook using this pan, the iron can actually absorb into your foods in a healthy and positive way.
Some of the benefits of using cast iron include the following.
- Nonstick when seasoned properly
- No chemicals are used when created
- Known for durability
- Can be used in extreme heat, including campfires and ovens
- Your food can absorb iron from coking in this pan
- Easy to clean when seasoned properly
- Affordable and reliable
- Great heat retention
All of this leads us to the question, can you use cast iron with an induction cooktop? The short answer is yes, you can.
But, before you do, make sure you equip yourself with all the information so you don’t end up with problems or frustrations when you start cooking.
What Type of Cookware Works Best for Induction?
The key to cooking with an induction cooktop is to use cookware that is magnetically conductive. You see this above because the induction cooktop uses an electromagnetic quality to heat the items in question.
You don’t necessarily have to stick to a specific category of cookware but your cookware needs to have some specific qualities in order to be compatible.
There are cast iron pans that are compatible so be sure to check for that. Here are the qualities a pan specifically needs for induction cooktop compatibility.
- Able to attract a magnet
- Has a smooth surface
- Has a flat surface
Induction is unique in that the cookware is what causes the heat source to truly generate heat. This is where having cookware that can attract a magnet comes into play.
Again, if you aren’t sure about your cookware, try applying a magnet to the bottom of the surface.
Cast iron pans fit the bill here. They are flat and most of them are magnetic – again be sure to check that out. The difference on a cast iron pan is they do not always have a perfectly smooth surface. So, why is this a problem?
While your cast iron will effectively cook and heat with the induction cooktop, you need to be very careful because if it has that gritty finish on it, which might also scratch your induction cooktop.
That glass top can be very sensitive to materials so you have to treat it with care.
If you’re looking for new cast iron cookware, look for brands that are as smooth as possible and don’t have as much of a gritty finish. This will definitely help you when it comes to protecting your cooktop.
In addition, you might be able to find a ceramic-coated cast iron, which will also lead to a smoother finish that is less likely to scratch your cooktop as well.
There are some other tips you can consider trying to protect your stove from a cast iron pan and still cook successfully. We will share a few of those with you later in this guide.
What you should know is that cast iron and induction cooktops work very well together. The material is perfect for the way the induction cooktop works and the heat retention of the materials also plays a major role.
In addition, just about any cast iron pan will be compatible because they are made with iron. The question would be whether they are coated with something that might interfere with the iron materials of the pan.
Will Cast Iron Scratch an Induction Cooktop?
It certainly is possible that your cast iron will scratch the cooktop surface if you are not extremely careful. Thankfully, there are some great tips to work around this, which you will see in our next section of the guide.
The thing with cast iron is that it is both heavy and unfinished in a sense.
While some of the newer cast iron options are much smoother than the cast iron of old, the materials still have a certain amount of grittiness to them that can cause scratching problems.
When you slide that pan across your cooktop, you are putting it at risk of harm from the pan so be extremely careful about how you use the pan. Again, we have some tips in the next section.
Another thing that might help is to keep your surfaces very clean.
Make sure the bottom of the cast iron is clean and free of debris and make sure there are no crumbs or debris on your induction cooktop as well. This can help to prevent accidental scratches.
Cast iron can scratch but there are a lot of options to be proactive so that you can enjoy your cast iron pans and your induction cooktop simultaneously.
How to Properly Use Cast Iron on an Induction Cooktop
Now, we know we can almost always use cast iron on induction but how can you use it for the best results and how can you use it without scratching your cooktop surface? When you use cast iron, this is the most challenging part of the task.
Because cast iron sometimes has a gritty finish, even cast iron that looks more smooth should be handled with care.
If you look at the potential downsides of using cast iron on an induction cooktop, this is probably the biggest one to prepare for.
Lucky for you, there are plenty of ways to work around this. You do have to be mindful and very careful as you work but you can cook successfully and your induction cooktop can survive the task if you make the effort.
You most likely will pay or did pay a pretty amount for an induction cooktop so it is important to keep it looking nice.
Handle your cast iron and induction cooktop with extreme caution. Here are some tips for cooking with cast iron on induction cooktops.
One of the easiest things you can do is to keep your pan in place and be careful about how you move it on the stovetop. If you slide it across the surface, this is when a scratch could or is most likely to occur.
If you habitually slide pans across the surface, you will need to be extra mindful not to do that when you cook with cast iron. Make it a point to set the pan directly over the burner and keep your movements smooth and simple.
Always lift the pan up to move it to avoid scratching. This can be a hard habit to break so again you will have to be mindful of every movement with that pan.
Don’t slide it, not even directly on top of the burner. Lift the pan to move it and try to keep it as securely in place as possible while you cook.
This takes a conscious effort but it is one of the most basic ways to cook with cast iron and still protect your cooktop as well.
Try a Paper Towel
This will completely blow your mind but you can actually use a paper towel on your induction burner and place it between the pan and the burner. Say what!?
With most cooktops, this would definitely be a fire hazard but with the unique operation of an induction cooktop, it’s not!
Induction cooktops generate heat directly to the magnetic source, which in this case is your cast iron pan. It will pass through the paper towel directly to the pan.
You don’t have a flame or the coiled burners of some cooktops so the paper towel is perfectly safe.
In this instance, the paper towel acts as a barrier only to protect the surface. It will have no effect on the heat or the heat transfer of the pan.
Remember that with an induction cooktop, the burners really don’t get hot because the heat transfers directly to the magnetic source.
If you forget not to slide the pan, you are covered and the paper towel will help to protect the surface.
Here’s a video on how this process works!
Smooth the Cast Iron
While your cast iron may come to you slightly gritty, there is nothing that says you can’t smooth it out. This heavy-duty pan can certainly take it!
While you don’t probably want to smooth the entire pan surface, you can absolutely smooth the bottom of the pan to protect your cooktop.
Cast iron is known for not being smooth and often has one or two bumps or rough areas that can do a lot of damage to the cooktop.
If you want to spend the time, you can use an iron file or something made for iron materials and work to sand down the bottom of the pan so it can be smoothed out.
This won’t be a simple task and could be more work than it is worth but it certainly is a viable option if you don’t want to mess with a paper towel or another solution.
Try Enameled Cast Iron
Another potential solution to safely use cast iron without the worry of scratching your induction cooktop is to use an enameled cast iron pan instead of traditional cast iron.
These pans are made with the same, solid cast iron materials but then they are finished with a smooth enamel coating.
A lot of companies have gone to using products like this because the cookware is sleek and smooth and modern in appeal. These are typically pretty lightweight as well, whereas traditional cast iron is quite heavy to work with.
Enameled cast iron is also conductive as far as the magnetic abilities so that shouldn’t be an issue here on your induction cooktop.
There are some drawbacks to using enameled cast iron instead of traditional, particularly that your items will cook more slowly and the heat retention is not as great. They don’t quite cook as great as traditional cast iron.
Caring for Cast Iron Cookware
One of the best ways to keep your cast iron prepared and ready for the induction cooktop is to clean it well after every use.
You will need to practice regular seasoning of the pan for the non-stick properties but the cleaning process is also vital here.
Cast iron isn’t a material that you can just wipe down and be done with it. Chances are, you can do this on your induction cooktop but you need to treat your pan with some alternative care so it holds up over time.
If you clean your pan properly, it will also help when you use t on the induction top.
You should plan to clean your cast iron pans after every use. This will help to eliminate the possibility of debris or food or oil or anything on the exterior of the pan.
When the pan gets dirty, it is more likely to cause scratching problems so this is important.
To wash your pan, some people tell you to never use soap but you can use soap if you use a gentle soap. Be mindful that you may need to season the pan more often if you do use soap.
You can use a scraper and hot water to get the pan clean. Always be sure to check the bottom of the pan, as that is the problem area with an induction cooktop.
You won’t want to use scouring pads or harsh surfaces to scrub the pan as this can hurt the cast iron pan itself. You also don’t want to soak the pan for long periods of time as this could cause rust.
Finally, when you’ve got the pan clean, you should plan to dry it off with a soft and gentle towel right away to avoid potential rust issues.
When you notice that your seasoning of the pan is starting to fade or disappear, it’s time to season it again. You will have to season the pan regularly to keep those properties and maintain the pan as best as possible.
Benefits of Using an Induction Cooktop
Now, let’s weigh the pros and the cons so you can make a fully informed decision on whether you want to try to pair cast iron and induction.
Our benefits will be focused on the benefits of an induction cooktop while our downsides will be focused on the potential downfalls of a cast iron pan on an induction cooktop.
Here are some great benefits to consider.
- The burner does not get hot to the touch if the pan is not on the burner
- Less direct heat is emitted so it doesn’t heat up your cooking space
- You most likely will not burn anything on or around the burner and you are less likely to burn yourself too
- Cooks quickly and efficiently
- You have control of the cooking thanks to quick temperature adjustment control
- The heat dissipates almost immediately when you remove the pan from the burner
- Induction cooktops are relatively easy to clean
The Downsides of Using Cast Iron on an Induction Cooktop
To give you the full picture, here are a few potential downsides to be aware of if you decide to cook with cast iron on your induction cooktop.
- If proper care is not placed, the pan can start losing its coating or rust
- Cleaning a cast iron pan can sometimes be challenging
- Cast iron can scratch your induction cooktop if you are not careful
- Cast iron pans do not always heat evenly, although they are a good conductor of heat and have good heat retention
- Cast iron does not always respond well to rapid changes in temperature, while the induction cooktop does.
In summary, you can use a cast iron pan on an induction cooktop as long as you are mindful of how it works and the precautions that you should take in order to protect your stovetop from potential damage from the pan.
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