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Cast iron cookware has become increasingly popular in the last few years, and for good reason. Having at least one cast iron pan or cast iron skillet in your house is bordering on a necessity as they are just so brilliant for cooking with. There are some special things you must do to look after them, but that is more of a labor of love. To make sure your cast iron skillet is in the best condition possible, you might be wondering if you can use it on an induction stove.
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What is Cast Iron?
Cast iron is a special type of cookware that is made from very durable metal. They have been around for years and are very versatile, heavy, and most of all, reliable. They are famed for their heat retention and ability to easily withstand high heat.
While this may seem brilliant already, it does not come without a caveat. The cast iron pans and skillets you see will all need to be seasoned for them to work properly. Seasoning a cast iron pan involves gently coating it in oil and heating it for hours in an oven at a very high temperature. This process must be repeated multiple times.
The point of seasoning is to prevent any food from sticking to the pan and to also protect the pan from any damage. Alongside needing to be seasoned, cast iron pans also need to be cleaned with a lot of care so that you do not crack the surface or cause any rust. Without the seasoning, it is bare cast iron and is very prone to rust.
The cast iron cookware is made by using a singular mold of the pan or skillet you are using and casting it with alloy, carbon, and iron. This creates a solid pan that has no parts on it and is made entirely out of the same material. This will leave a few imperfections and bumps on the pan, so it will have a more rustic finish.
It is also not uncommon for the iron to flake off in very small pieces and be absorbed into your food. This may look like black residue. A lot of people suggest that this is healthy as iron is important in our diet.
Why is Cast Iron so Popular?
As mentioned, cast iron products are very popular and are becoming almost a necessity in many kitchens. There are a few reasons for this that will help explain why they are simply better than a lot of other cookware. The benefits of using cast iron;
- Nonstick properties when properly seasoned
- No plastics or bad chemicals are used in the production process
- Insanely durable
- Can withstand extreme heat such as an oven or open fire
- Food can absorb iron from the pan, which is healthy
- Easy to clean, but only when seasoned properly
- Affordable, reliable, if looked after you will not need to buy a second one
- Amazing heat retention
As you can see, cast iron seems pretty amazing. You can get all types of cast iron products, such as enameled cast iron. Now that you know why cast iron is so popular, you may be wondering, ‘can cast iron work with induction stoves?’.
To answer shortly, yes, they can. However, they must be used with a lot of caution and care. It is best to be properly informed about induction stoves before you try them.
What is an Induction Burner?
A huge issue with cooking often is that there is a lot of wasted money on gas and electricity from your stoves alone. If you cook a lot for yourself or others, you are sure to have thought about energy efficiency once or twice. Aside from these two types of stovetops, a more energy-efficient option is now available and has been on the rise in popularity. This is the induction cooker. This will save you money in the long run and will also ensure a more precise and even heating of your cookware.
While they may look very similar to glass-top electric cooktops, induction stoves use an electromagnetic system that allows for precise control and a rapid rise or decrease in temperature. This leads to faster cooking times, less wasted energy, and more control than you have ever had.
Induction stovetops are known to boil water at least 50% faster than their electric and gas counterparts. Alongside this, the heat is constant and very stable, meaning it will not change much at all, which will result in fewer spill-overs from the water boiling too much. The lack of fluctuating temperatures will make cooking a lot easier and nicer for you.
Underneath the cooking surface, there is a coiled copper wire that passes an electric current through the cookware. This magnetic current is passed straight from the copper coil to your pan. This eliminates any need for the pan to be slowly heated by a direct heat source. Because of this, the stovetop also remains at room temperature, which will make burns a thing of the past. Once the pan is removed, and the current is lost, there is no heat remaining as both the pan and the electromagnetic current are no longer touching; therefore, the heat is gone completely.
Can Cast Iron Pans Damage Induction Cooktops?
While the stovetop may sound very fancy with electromagnetism, the surface is actually very fragile. Cast iron products are very heavy and also have a gritty finish to them, which can easily cause scratches. Some newer cast iron pans have a much more polished finish; however, there is still a sense of grittiness to them, which means they still pose a risk.
Be very careful how you use the pan, as sliding it across the stovetop is very likely to scratch it. The biggest risk is scratching. The best way to prevent this standardly is to clean the bottom of the cast iron and ensure it is free of debris.
How to Safely Use Cast Iron on an Induction Cooktop
Understanding that you can use the cast iron pan on induction cooktops is one thing, but now you need to know how to do it safely without damaging either the pan or the stovetop. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to minimize the risk of your cast iron scratching the induction stove. While the risk is always there, there are ways to help protect your induction cooking surface.
As mentioned, the biggest downside to using a cast iron pot on an induction cooker is that the surface may get scratched. This is arguably general wear and tear as the surface will see a lot of use; however, you can always keep this to a minimum.
Ensure that you are careful when placing the pan on the stovetop and when removing it. There is no need to be slamming the pot down onto your induction cooktops, be gentle, and it will last for longer. Alongside this, avoid sliding your cast iron skillet if you can. While it is a fun way to toss up your stir fry, try to remember to take the skillet off of the induction stove first. Sliding is extremely likely to cause scratches.
Use a Paper Towel
While this may sound weird, I promise it works. While not all of us have a great understanding of physics, you cannot deny that this works. The paper towel can be placed in between the induction cooktop and the cast iron skillet. As there is no direct heat, the paper towel is not going to go up in flames or get hot at all.
Induction cooktops work by heating the magnetic source directly, and as paper towels are not affected by magnetism, they will generate no heat at all. The paper is also thin enough to let the current pass through it without blocking it.
The only purpose of the paper towel is to act as a protective layer over the glass cooktop surface. The pan will no longer scratch your induction stovetop as long as the paper is there. This will not work on an electric stovetop as there is a direct heat source that will ignite the paper towel.
Smooth the Cast Iron
When I said that cast iron is durable, I meant it. While it may have been delivered in a gritty state, you could always smooth the exterior of your cast iron pot yourself. Avoid doing this to the inside as that is best left alone, especially if it is seasoned.
While it might take some time, you can use any tools that can file iron down to sand the bottom of the cast iron pot. This will make it a lot smoother so that there will be fewer bumps and rough patches on the bottom. This might seem overkill, but if you’re dedicated to using the cast iron skillet, you might as well perfect it.
Use Enameled Cast Iron
Enameled cast iron is still the same molten iron product deep down; however, it is coated with enamel. An enameled cast iron pan is still magnetically conductive, so the induction cooker will still work with it. Enameled cast iron skillets are a lot sleeker and smoother, which makes them less likely to scratch your induction stove.
The only drawback to this is that the enamel coating causes the pan to cook food slower and decreases the quality of the cast iron heat retention. A traditional cast iron surface has much better heat retention than any enamel cast iron product.
Use a Different Pan
While it may sound like a shallow suggestion, if you are fortunate to have another pan or skillet that you can use, preferably made from steel, you can use that instead. If you don’t want cast iron scratch marks all over your induction cooktops, just use a different pan if you have one. Cast iron works a lot better for cooking, yet with the consistency and precision of induction cooking, you will barely notice the difference between a steel pan and a cast iron one.
How to Season a Cast Iron Skillet or Pan
If you are wanting to season your cast-iron cookware by yourself, then you have two very simple methods to choose from. To ensure your cast iron is the best cooking surface possible, you should re-season it whenever there is apparent damage to the current seasoning.
Stovetop seasoning is better for minor repairs on your cast iron pan as it can not get to the same high heat that your oven can. To thoroughly season your cast iron, you will first want to start off by cleaning your skillet as best as you can. Once it is cleaned to the best of your ability, apply a thin layer of oil evenly to the skillet. It is best to choose whatever oil you have in stock, as most types will work. The ideal oils to use have a high smoke point. These oils can be canola oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil, and sunflower oil.
Ensure that you remove any excess oil from your skillet as you want a thin layer on the skillet and nothing more. After this, heat your skillet over medium heat on your stovetop and allow it to cool. This may need to be repeated multiple times in order to get to the level of seasoning which you desire.
Oven seasoning is required when there is extensive damage to the seasoning on your cast iron. While it is required once there is lots of damage, you can still do this method even if the damage is minimal. Using the oven to season a cast iron skillet is so easy and can be done frequently.
To start the seasoning process, you will want to clean your skillet. As you are about to apply more seasoning, you can use soapy water and scrub it as thoroughly as you want. Normally this would be bad as it would damage the seasoning, but in this case, it is fine. Once the skillet is clean, evenly apply oil to the inside and outside of your cast iron cookware. You can also use animal fat or any cooking oil such as vegetable oil or flaxseed oil.
Remove any excess oil with a paper towel so that you leave only a very thin and even coat of oil. Heat your oven to 400 degrees and place your skillet upside down on a wire rack. If your oven does not go to this temperature, just set the heat to as high as possible.
Allow your cast iron cookware to bake for an hour at the minimum, and then turn your oven off when you are happy. Do not remove the cast iron skillet yet, as you will need to let it cool completely.
Once entirely cooled, you can remove your cast iron skillet. If you have stripped away the previous seasoning on your cast iron skillet, as you want to do a major restoration, you will need to repeat this step 3-4 more times to ensure that you have a good and trusty seasoning on your cast iron pan.
Is Cast Iron Cookware Worth Using With Induction Cooking?
If you are weighing up the pros and cons of using both of these in tandem, then that is understandable. There are many reasons that you may not want to risk an expensive induction cooktop being scratched by bare cast iron. In this case, iron cookware may not be your best choice. On the other hand, cast iron pans are amazing for cooking with and can be used for decades if treated properly.
FAQs on Cast Iron and Induction Cooking
Can cast iron scratch induction cooktops?
Cast iron is capable of scratching your induction stove if you are not careful. This is because cast iron is very gritty and rough, meaning it can scratch the glass cooktop very easily if you are not being gentle. There are ways to minimize this, but nothing to completely prevent it.
Does cast iron work with an induction cooker?
Cast iron works with induction cookers for sure. It works by utilizing an electromagnetic current that cast iron is highly capable of conducting. Induction cooking can work with iron cookware as well as steel and other metals.