How Does Induction Cooking Work?

induction cooktopOver the years, induction cookers have come to be the preferred cooking method in many homes. The various benefits of induction cooking such as reduced dangers of burns, faster cooking and energy efficiency, have appealed to many people. But how exactly does an induction cooker work such that it is so different in function from electric and gas cookers?

The Difference Between Induction And Other Cooking Methods

Before discussing the workings of an induction cooker, it is important to understand how different it is from other cooking equipment. While electric coils and gas cookers apply a hot surface or open flame to the bottom side of the cooking vessel, an induction cooker heats the whole cookware uniformly. The cooking equipment itself does not get hot. It achieves its function by making use of electromagnetism. This requires special cookware. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of cookware sets out there that work with your induction cooktop.

Electromagnetism, Faraday’s Law and Resistance

Electricity and magnetism can interact in a number of ways. A force that governs this interaction between magnetic fields and electrical fields is referred to as electromagnetism and is one of the main four forces found in nature. Induction cooking is based on the principle of induction where a current (alternating not direct) moving through a closed circuit creates another alternating current in a different circuit placed in close proximity.

To understand how this happens, there are three important aspects of electricity you need to understand. The first is that any electrical current flowing in a circuit will create a magnetic field around the circuit. Alternate currents lead to the creation of fluctuating or oscillating (meaning keeps on changing) magnetic fields. According to Faraday’s Law discovered back in 1831, oscillating currents cause a current to be induced in another conductor. The conductor has to be placed near the circuit within the oscillating magnetic field.

In the case of induction cooking, a copper wire coil underneath the cooking vessel forms the first closed circuit. An alternating current is then introduced in the coil causing a changing magnetic field to form around the coil. These magnetic field causes current to be introduced into a conductor that is within it, in this case the cookware.

Now as we know, any current flowing within a circuit will encounter some level of resistance. This resistance produces heat and the more resistance a current encounters the hotter the circuit becomes. This is the principle used in heating elements such as coils and electric irons. Therefore, once an electric current starts flowing in the cooking vessel, it immediately encounters resistance. This resistance leads to the production of heat throughout the conductor (the cookware). The heat cooks the food in the pot directly.

Advantages of Induction Cooking

As you can see, the cooking pot itself is the source of heat and not the cooking top. This has many advantages in that food receives heat evenly thus ensuring that it does not burn or undercook in some areas. It also saves a lot of energy since there is very little heat lost from the system. This is different from electric and gas cookers where air around is heated up and a lot of heat is wasted. Lastly, since the top of the induction cooker does not get heated up, chances of accidental burns are lesser than in other cookers.

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