To prevent your cast iron pot from damaging your cooktop, smoothen its base or buy enamel cast iron products. Avoid dragging or dropping the cookware on the hobs. Wipe down all surfaces before using them.
Induction cooktops are generally touted as the next best thing in cooking appliances, the epitome of perfection. While that is true, they are susceptible to damage by cast iron cookware, and I learned that the hard way.
I cook a lot, so I have my own induction cooktop and the cookware to go with it.
But within months, I started seeing scratches on my cooker. I decided to do some research, engaged the manufacturers in long discussions, and finally realized that the damages were all my fault.
See, many people who own induction cooktops tend to treat them like the regular gas or electric cookers that they are used to. It is easy to understand why they need special treatment when you factor in the cost of an induction cooker and how different they work from their radiation and gas counterparts.
In this article, I will discuss the intricacies of both cast-iron cookware and induction cooktops and how to protect your induction cooktop from cast iron.
- Can You Use Cast Iron On Induction?
- How Do Induction Cookers Work?
- How Cast Iron Pans Work
- The Proper Way To Use Induction And Cast Iron
- How To Protect Cooktops
- FAQs About Using Cast Iron On Induction Hobs
Can You Use Cast Iron On Induction?
Yes, cast iron is one of the select induction-compatible cookware that works well on induction cooktops.
It is, in fact, a great choice because cast iron retains heat and basically draws in all the electromagnetic current released by the cooktop, which means less work for your induction cooktop.
However, induction cooker-compatible does not always mean induction cooker-friendly. Before I explore keeping induction cooktops safe, it is better to understand how they work.
How Do Induction Cookers Work?
An induction cooker converts electric current to electromagnetic current and radiates it around its glass surface. At this point, no part of the induction cooker is hot.
When compatible cookware, like a cast iron pot, gets in contact with that electromagnetic current, the pot is induced to produce heat. The heat in the pot is what you use for cooking your meal.
Induction cooktops are effective and fast compared to gas and electric cookers. They do not have the same safety risks as the other cooktops, which continue to emit heat after being put off.
Since they don’t produce direct heat, the induction hobs cool almost immediately after cooking is done. You need to ensure that your cookware is induction-compatible before purchasing or using them on the hobs. If they are not, it won’t get hot, and you can’t cook.
Induction-compatible cookware have four looped rings inscribed on them, but you can also test them out using a magnet. If the magnet sticks to the base of your cookware, you have an induction-compatible utensil.
How Cast Iron Pans Work
Cast iron refers to any utensil or cookware made from the combination of carbon, iron, and an alloy. These materials are smelted before being cast into shape. No chemicals are used in the process as this is simply a combination of different metals.
However, this production process gives it a less than smooth, gritty finish that lasts for its entire lifespan. Cast iron pans are popular for their durability.
They work extremely well for heat retention as they can endure extreme heat cooking such as ovens, campfires, etc.
They are affordable, and some iron may seep into the food you are preparing, which is generally considered a good thing.
Both induction cooktops and cast iron need to be treated with care and skill. For cookware to work effectively on an induction hob, it has to fulfill the magnetic criterion and have a smooth and flat surface. Any cookware that does not meet all the requirements might work, but it might not cook well.
The Proper Way To Use Induction And Cast Iron
The first rule of using cast iron cookware on an induction cooktop is taking extra care with handling them, but here are more tips that can help:
Choose Smooth Cast Iron Products
The truth is, there are no perfectly smooth cast iron products, but you’ll find satisfactorily smooth pots that work great on the market.
A ceramic-coated cast iron finish is also available. It is smoother than the generic types and less likely to scratch or damage your induction hob.
You can also smoothen out the bumpy base with an iron file to minimize the bumps that may affect your cooking. This might be a difficult task because it requires intense energy and time, but it helps greatly. Here are a few steps to smoothening the cast iron pot:
- Sand the base in a circular motion according to the shape of the pan. You’ll need 60 or 80 grit sandpaper.
- Check the surface regularly while sanding to avoid thinning the pan.
- Once you have achieved the desired smoothness, wash the surface with a mild detergent to remove particles.
- Dry out the cookware with a microfiber cloth to avoid rust
- Proceed to season the interior and exterior of the pan properly
Buy Enamel Cast Iron Products
Enamel cast iron products are the sleeker, modern version of cast iron, and it is smoother and lighter. They are a better fit for induction cooking because they are finished with an enamel coating that protects both the pan’s surface and the induction cooktop.
Enamel cookware is also easier to handle and lighter than traditional cast iron. However, the enamel coating slows down the cooking process and limits how hot the cast iron can get.
How To Protect Cooktops
It is advisable to use stainless steel or non-stick cookware, but if you must use cast iron, you can take a few steps to ensure the safety of your induction cooktop:
Avoid Dragging Or Dropping Cast Iron Cookware
Avoid dragging the cookware over the hobs when using cast iron on induction hubs. It is a lot better if you pick it up and shake the pan before placing it gently back on the induction hob.
When you lift the cookware, avoid dropping it suddenly on the hob. Always place it carefully and gently on the cooktop.
Because of the weight of the cookware, it may slip a little, especially if you are used to cooktops with raised burners. All you’ll need, though, is some adjustment and some practice to get it right.
Allow For Slow Heating
Cast iron cookware takes notoriously long to heat up as they do not respond to sudden temperature changes. It may take time to get it to the expected temperature you want. Hence, always take your time to slowly heat the cookware before starting to cook.
Always Use A Clean Pan
It is important to wipe down all surfaces before starting to cook. This is because any food particle on the induction hob or grit stuck to the underside of the pot increases the chances of scratches. So, you should wipe everything that will be in contact with the hob first.
Proper Seasoning Of The Pan
Proper cleaning and seasoning of the cast iron pan will make using it a lot easier. The dirtier they are, the more likely they are to scratch and damage the induction hob.
Cast iron cookware cannot just be cleaned with a single wipe down; they require more effort. Clean the cookware after each use to remove debris from the surface using a scraper and hot water.
Avoid soaking the pan for a long time to avoid rust or scouring with a metal sponge or any harsh surfaces. Always dry them out with a soft and gentle towel immediately after cleaning.
Cast iron cookware requires regular seasoning to maintain its properties and utility for a long time.
Protect The Induction Hob With A Barrier
Placing a barrier between the induction hob and the cast iron cookware is an easy way to avoid scratching. Since the induction hob does not give off any heat, this is a safe way to keep the two surfaces from having direct contact.
Parchment paper comes in handy for this, and if you mistakenly slide the cast iron pan, the induction hob remains protected. Parchment paper is not thick enough to affect the heating of the induction hob, so you don’t have to worry about slower cooking.
Use A Scratch Protector Mat
Scratch protector mats are disc-shaped mats made from silicon that act as a barrier to limit the movement of cookware over the cooktop. You can place it on top of your induction hob before the cast iron pan or pot, which should stop your cookware from sliding.
Since most scratches come from pots sliding, this is a surefire way to reduce that damage.
It is important to note that although the silicone mats are heat resistant, they have a temperature limit. Most scratch protector mats have a permissible temperature limit of about 480’F, and anything higher than this and they would start melting.
Cast iron cookware tends to reach higher temperatures, which may burn the protector mat and leave an even worse mark on your induction hob. Therefore, pay close attention to the temperature you’re at with the mat.
If you enjoy working in a quiet kitchen, the scratch protector mats tend to make cooking louder. The induction cooktop is a relatively silent process. The only noise generated comes from the cookware’s humming noise. The protector mat seems to amplify the noise, which is something to keep in mind.
FAQs About Using Cast Iron On Induction Hobs
How Do I Season My Cast Iron Cookware?
After cleaning the cookware, lightly swab the pan with oil and preheat the oven to about 350′ F. Once heated, leave the pan on the shelf to cool off for about an hour.
Can I Use Soap On My Cast Iron Cookware?
Avoid using soap to clean your cast iron cookware as much as you can. They tend to have more negative effects in the long run than positive. Always use a scraper; however, make sure you use a mild soap if you must use one.