Can You Use Pans On Induction Hobs? (Making Pans Induction-Safe)

Image of pans on an induction hob

Induction hobs are different from electric and gas cooktops as they do not use direct heat transfer to cook food. These hobs use magnetic coils to generate heat. So, cookware designed for regular hobs is not always suitable for induction hobs. However, this does not mean that you will have to throw out all your pots and pans if you buy an induction hob. You will most likely have at least a few items lying around that will serve the purpose. So, can you use pans on an induction hob?

Yes, you can use pans on an induction hob. The flat-bottomed pans are usually made from magnetic materials like cast iron, steel, and magnetic steel. These pans will work on induction hobs. You can also use ceramic pots that have a base made from magnetic materials like iron on the induction hobs.

To understand why some pans work on an induction hob while others do not, we should first understand the difference between induction and regular cooktops.

How Are Induction Cooktops Different From Regular Cooktops?

Electric and gas hobs have one thing in common – they cook food by direct heat.

They use the principle of thermal conduction for cooking.

Whether it is with an electric coil or a gas flame, heat is directly transferred to the utensil placed on the stove.

Direct contact with the heat source cooks the food.

Since the heat source transfers heat to the cookware, it is hot to touch.

However, induction cooktops do not produce direct heat or transfer it to the cookware.

These hobs operate in a whole other way, by using an oscillating magnetic field.

Induction hobs have a magnetic coil beneath the surface.

When you apply power to the hob, the coil becomes magnetized. It generates an oscillating magnetic field.

This magnetic field can induce an electric current in a magnetic material placed on it.

So, when you place food in a pan made from magnetic material like iron or steel on the hob, the heat from the current cooks the food.

Since there is no direct heat transfer, the pan does not feel warm. You will be able to comfortably touch the pan.

Now, the important thing to remember here is that an induction hob generates current and heat only in magnetic materials.

Pans made from cast iron, steel, and magnetic stainless steel have magnetic qualities.

Hence, you can use them as induction cookware.

Glass, ceramic, copper, and aluminum do not make the list because they are not magnetic.

However, ceramic coated pans with an iron or steel base will work on induction hobs because of an underlying metallic surface.

It is also necessary for the pan to have a flat base for it to work.

What Happens If You Use A Normal Pan On An Induction Hob?

For a pan to work on an induction hob, it must have ferrous material in the base.

This material reacts to the magnetic field and produces heat for cooking.

If the base of the pan is non-magnetic, it will be unaffected by the magnetic coil of the induction hob.

The heat will not be generated in the pan, and the food will not get cooked.

So, a normal pan will not work on an induction hob unless it has magnetic properties.

Most induction safe pans will have a symbol that indicates it is suitable for induction cooking.

However, a pan may be suitable for induction cookers even if this symbol is not present, with a simple test.

Bring a magnet near the base of the pan.

If the pan base attracts the magnet, it is made with magnetic material and is suitable for induction cooking.

Can Pans Damage Induction Hobs?

One of the main requirements for induction cookware is the presence of magnetic material in the base.

However, there is one more requirement – the base of the pan should be flat and non-deformable.

For induction cooking to happen, the cooktop must have proper contact with the pan containing food.

Normal pans with thin or curved bases cannot establish this type of contact with the induction surface.

As a result, the food will not cook properly.

Another likely issue is that if the base is too thin, a high cooking temperature can damage it.

Overheating can also cause the induction hob surface to sustain damage.

How Do You Know If Your Cookware Is Induction Ready?

To determine whether the cookware you already own is induction-friendly, look for two factors:

  • A flat base, and
  • The construction material.

Even if you have a pan that is made of induction-friendly material, you should not use it on an induction cooktop if it does not have a flat base.

A thick flat metal base ensures uniform heat generation in the pan from the magnetic current.

It produces high temperatures to cook the contents quickly and thoroughly.

For the second requirement, let us look at the different types of pans that are commonly available and why they will or will not work on an induction hob.

Can You Use Copper Pans On Induction Hobs?

Copper is not ferromagnetic. It means that it will not support the magnetic currents needed by an induction cooktop to cook food.

In the absence of a concentrated current, the copper pan will fail to cook food.

However, if the pan has a stainless-steel cladding, it will produce a magnetic current.

Such a pan will work on an induction cooktop.

Once again, you can use the simple magnetic test to confirm if a copper pan is induction-friendly before you use it on an induction hob.

Can You Use Aluminum Pans On Induction Hobs?

Aluminum cookware does not usually work on induction hobs. Aluminum is not ferromagnetic.

Hence it cannot concentrate the current required for induction cooking.

However, aluminum pans with magnetized bases are available as induction cookware.

In these pans, the core is aluminum. However, there is a stainless-steel layer at the base, which enables proper contact with the hob.

Since stainless steel is magnetic, it will generate the current needed to cook food on an induction hob.

The benefit of using aluminum and copper pans with magnetic cladding is that the pans will conduct heat uniformly along the sides as well.

So, the heat enters through the bottom of the pan, but the food will be heated evenly from the sides as well.

This ensures uniform cooking.

Can You Use Anodized Pans On Induction Hobs?

Just like regular aluminum pans do not work on induction hobs, anodized pans are also unsuitable for induction cooking.

Anodized pans are made of chemically treated aluminum.

These pans do not work on induction hobs unless they have been specially designed with a ferromagnetic base.

Newer induction-friendly anodized pans have magnetic stainless steel or iron plates built into the base.

Since these materials are induction-friendly, the pans can be used for induction cooking.

Related Further Reading:

Can You Use Non-Stick Pans On Induction Hobs?

Non-stick pans with induction-friendly flat bases are suitable for use on induction hobs.

The newer models often carry an induction-ready stamp at the base.

Such pans usually have a ferromagnetic layer of stainless steel or cast-iron base on which the non-stick protective coating is attached.

It will also have a flat base that maintains constant contact with the hob surface.

If you have an older non-stick pan or a pan without this label, you can use the magnetic test to find out if it is induction compatible.

Can You Convert Pans So That They Can Be Used On Induction Cooktops?

As we mentioned earlier, induction cooktops will only work with materials that are ferromagnetic and have a flat base.

It ensures the successful transmission of energy from the hob to the pan to cook the food.

Now, if the pans you have are not induction-friendly, there is a workaround.

You should not directly place these pans on the induction cooktop as it can damage the pan or the surface of the cooktop or both.

However, you can convert them into induction-friendly cookware with the help of a simple accessory – an induction cooktop interface disk.

The induction cooktop interface disk is a flat disk made from magnetic material like magnetized steel.

When you place it between the hob and a normal pan, it forms a magnetic interface that generates current and transfers heat to the pan which is placed on it.

So, you can use it for cooking food in regular copper, aluminum, or ceramic pans.

Interesting Further Reading:

In A Nutshell…

Induction hobs are powerful and energy-efficient cooking appliances. Not only are they safe, but they are also clean and quick to cook food.

However, due to their unique magnetic principle of operation, they are not compatible with all types of cookware.

They will only work with pans that are made of magnetic materials.

Additionally, the pans should also have flat bases to work on induction hobs.

So, normal copper, aluminum, glass, and ceramic pans are unsuitable for induction cooking.

Cast iron, magnetized steel, flat-base non-stick pans with magnetized cores, and pans with magnetic cladding are induction-friendly cookware.

Finally, you can use your regular pans for induction cooking by using an induction cooktop disk as an interface between the hob and cookware.