Induction cooktops seem to be the future of kitchens.
For one, they are probably what you picture when you think of a sleek, modern kitchen. Picture those glossy black stove tops with barely noticeable hobs. They’re a favorite in minimalist households!
But induction stove tops go far beyond the looks and aesthetic. They’re considered the most energy-efficient source out there right now!
Being the new kid on the block, there are a lot of questions out there about induction stoves.
Some people have found themselves in a sticky situation where their pots and pans never seem to heat up on an induction stove.
So, what’s the difference? Is my induction stove broken?
Why is it that some cookware seems to work better with induction stoves than others? Can I use a carbon steel pan on an induction stove?
In this article, let’s check out one of the most commonly used metals in cookware like frying pans, pots, and woks — carbon steel.
What is carbon steel?
Carbon steel pans are quite common in kitchens all over the world. You’ll find them in your run-of-the-mill frying pans or in big Asian woks.
On the inside, carbon steel is quite similar to another kitchen favorite, cast iron. This means that the majority of carbon steel is made up of iron. Only 1 percent or sometimes around 2 percent is made up of carbon.
Sounds a little weird for something with the word “carbon” in its name to only be made up of such a small amount of it, right?
But don’t worry! That’s the beauty of it, actually.
More iron and less carbon make it a lot less prone to nicks and chips while keeping the surface smooth. This means your pan will be lighter to the touch with a nonstick effect.
Carbon steel is also a favorite in the kitchen for searing and using on high heat. It heats up quickly and can withstand a lot of heat.
So, you can go from your stove top to the oven using just one pot or pan without worrying about any breaking or melting.
What is induction?
Now, to fully understand why certain cookware work on induction stove tops while others don’t, we have to look into what induction is and, of course, how it works.
At first glance, one might confuse induction stoves with electric ones.
Nowadays, both kinds have sleek glass finishes and offer a safer, more energy-efficient way to cook than your traditional gas stove.
However, the difference is in the way they heat up.
Electric stoves rely on the power of electricity to heat up coils of metal in the stove. This heat then directly transfers to the surface of the stove hob, heating pots on contact.
In a way, it acts more like a gas stove with flames. Wherever the fire touches would be warmer than places it doesn’t.
On the other hand, induction ovens are run by electricity too. But they have a unique feature that makes cooking with induction so much more efficient than gas or electric stoves.
The coils that are heated in an induction stove are made of copper. This is key to the efficiency that induction stoves promise because copper, when heated, creates an electromagnetic effect.
This magnetic effect then, with the right kinds of metal cookware, guides heat through a current in order for it to fully heat the pan or pot evenly.
It might sound a lot like magic, but it’s all just magnetic forces in action!
What metal can you use on induction?
So, as mentioned before, all the great effects of induction will all be utterly useless if you don’t use the right kind of metal in your cookware.
The magnetic effect is key to the heating power of induction cooking, but not all metals are created equal. Some of them might not trigger the electromagnetic effect that you need.
Copper might be pretty, and it kind of makes sense to use it with copper coils, but don’t even try it because copper will not work on induction. Aluminum and glass cookware are no-no’s too.
However, cooking with pots or pans that have high ferromagnetic metal content would be the best bet for induction. Don’t be fooled by the big word!
Ferromagnetic just means they’re more likely to have a magnetic reaction with the stove top — things like cast iron. So, does carbon steel work on an induction hob? Definitely!
Is steel compatible with induction?
So, yes. Carbon steel is very much compatible with induction. It’s one of the best types of cookware to use due to the high iron content of carbon steel.
This makes it attractive to the electromagnetic currents that induction burners create in order to achieve even heating.
But make sure to stick to carbon steel!
Not all steel is created equal.
Stainless steel, for example, can sometimes not be compatible with induction cooktops due to a high level of other metals mixed in. This can interfere with the magnetic current.
Is carbon steel induction ready?
Unlike other incompatible metals that might need an iron or magnetic plate to get them induction-ready, carbon steel is grab and go. You can just use it without having to take extra steps to get it to work on an induction cooker.
That being said, are all carbon steel compatible with induction?
There are different kinds of carbon steel besides the typical silver kind.
Some might find black or blue carbon steel out in their kitchens. So, does black carbon steel work on induction? Does blue carbon steel work on induction?
Blue carbon steel gets its name from the blue sheen that accompanies these types of cookware. They get this color from a hardening treatment during the shaping process of the pots or pans.
Don’t worry, though; this does not affect the pan’s ability to be used on induction stove tops!
Meanwhile, black carbon steel is also treated with a hardening effect, thus creating a black layer. Just like your usual carbon steel and blue carbon steel, it should be all good to use on induction stove hobs.
So, if you want to go for the more modern option, one that gives you energy efficiency and even heating, you should give induction a shot.
Just remember that these kinds of stoves are just as good as the cookware you use with them.
Carbon steel is a reliable, hardy material that can give you the best searing and works best with induction without a hitch.