Induction cooking & heat distribution

In summary, the speaker has been using a small one-burner induction cooker with a large cast iron pan and has noticed a hot spot in the center of the pan and a temperature drop towards the sides. They are wondering how to even out the heat and why an induction burner would produce uneven results compared to a conventional electric burner. One forum suggested that a 220v unit may have a different magnetic field focus, but the speaker is skeptical and wonders if more expensive units have better engineering to compensate for this issue. They also ask if a diffuser or clever timing could help even out the heat and what differences exist in high-end units for even heat transfer. The distribution of heat is affected by the work coil's geometry and induction heating is
  • #1
meeotch1
7
0
I've been trying out induction cooking on a small one-burner unit, with a large cast iron pan. I'm getting the expected hot spot in the center of the pan, and a serious temperature falloff toward the sides. No surprise there - the induction element is about 7" (I dismantled the unit to check), and the pan bottom is about 10.5".

So I'm wondering what can be done to even out the heat, other than cooking smaller food - and more broadly, why an induction burner would produce worse / less even results than my conventional electric burner of the same size. (Which it does - never had the issue to this extent with the same pan on my conventional stove.)

On another forum, someone suggested that a 220v unit will have a "different focus for the magnetic fields" and that a 110v unit is doomed to having a hot spot that's even smaller than the element itself. Which sounded a lot like hand-waving, though I'll allow that more expensive sometimes means better engineering, and if it's true that power transfer is highest in the center, more expensive units may try to compensate somehow. So, questions:

1) Can the heating of the pan be evened out with a diffuser, or clever timing, or some such?

2) What differences exist, if any, in a "high end" unit that relate to evenness of heat transfer?
 
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  • #2
The distribution has a lot to do with the work coil's geometry. A smaller work coil means more local heating.
If an induction hear were designed for a particular skillet, the coil could be designed to heat in a fairly even fashion.

It is an unfortunate nature of induction heating that it is greatly efficient with iron, but very poor with aluminum or copper. Thus the very metals that serve to spread heat are no candidates for heat production. It does make one wonder whether a more complex construction could yield a specialized skillet.

As to why one cooker has proven better than the other, I cannot say except that the coil and the output power is most likely different.
 
  • #3
Give your cast iron more time to heat up before using it, it takes a looong time to charge a full cast iron skillet. I use cast iron on an induction burner and it certainly gets hot in a hurry, but takes a while (maybe 10-15 minutes) to even out.
 

Related to Induction cooking & heat distribution

1. How does induction cooking work?

Induction cooking uses electromagnetic induction to heat the cooking vessel directly, rather than using a heating element like in traditional stovetops. An alternating electric current is passed through a copper coil, creating a magnetic field which induces a current in the cooking vessel, heating it up.

2. Does induction cooking cook food faster than traditional stoves?

Yes, induction cooking is generally faster than traditional stoves because it heats up the cooking vessel directly and there is no need for the heat to transfer from the heating element to the vessel. This can result in faster cooking times and more efficient use of energy.

3. How does heat distribution differ between induction cooking and traditional stoves?

In induction cooking, the heat is evenly distributed throughout the cooking vessel, resulting in more evenly cooked food. Traditional stoves may have hot spots and uneven heat distribution, which can lead to unevenly cooked food.

4. Can I use any type of cookware on an induction cooktop?

No, induction cooktops require cookware made of ferromagnetic materials such as cast iron, stainless steel, or some types of aluminum. Copper, glass, and ceramic cookware will not work on an induction cooktop.

5. Is induction cooking safe?

Yes, induction cooking is generally considered safe. Since the cooktop itself does not produce heat, the risk of burns is reduced. Additionally, there is no open flame or gas involved, reducing the risk of fire. However, as with any cooking method, it is important to use caution and follow safety guidelines.

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