Will Induction Cooktop Work With Cast Iron?

A cast iron pan

The answer is YES!! For those who are used to cooking with cast iron cookware, this answer should sound like music to their ears. We are pretty sure that some of you might have given up using cast iron thinking that it simply doesn’t work on your induction cooktop, which is not true.

It’s a Myth!

Some of you might have heard that it is impossible to use cast iron on an induction cooktop, but that is incorrect. It is just a myth that has been floating around mainly because of the misconception of how an induction cooktop works or functions. An induction cooktop is one of the modern innovations in cooking technology whereas cast iron is an age-old cooking tool so there is no surprise in this misunderstanding.

What made induction cooktops so popular?

An induction cooktop uses a modern, superior, and innovative cooking technology. This technology revolutionized the cooking industry because it delivered perfectly cooked food in lesser time than any conventional cooking technique. The moment people started realizing its benefits, they started including it in their kitchen.

How does a cast iron cookware heat up on an induction cooker

For you to fully understand the question – of will the induction cooktop work with cast iron, you should understand the technology behind it. Induction cooktops work based on the principle of electromagnetic induction. Here is how it heats up a cast iron cookware; 

The induction cooktop has a coil of wire inside it. When electricity is passed, this coil creates a magnetic field. Since we use Alternating Current (AC) the direction of this magnetic field keeps fluctuating. When you put a cast iron pot over the induction cooker, it interacts with this alternating magnetic field. This interaction generates eddy currents in the cast iron cookware. The movement of these eddy currents through the cast iron material causes it to heat up.

This heating up happens instantly and the pot will be soon hot enough to cook food in it. So, the answer to ‘can you can use cast iron cookware on an induction cooktop’ is;

Cast iron cookware can be used on induction cooktops owing to their ability to generate eddy currents and heat up. Cast iron cookware will work like any other induction-friendly cookware.

A cast iron pan
A cast iron pan

What are the different types of cookware compatible with induction cooktop?

When you are shopping for cookware, you need to check if it is compatible with your induction cooktop. Almost all of the cookware sold in the US come with labeling that denotes whether it can be used on an induction cooktop or not.

Most cast iron pans and cookware that are found in homes are likely to have been with the family for generations. Some of us call it ‘Nanna’s Pan’ or ‘Grandma’s Pan’, and they hold a special place in our hearts. It is impossible to find labels on such pans.

In general, there are three main requirements for cookware to be used on an induction cooktop.

  1. Cookware should have a flat surface.
  2. Cookware should have ferromagnetic properties (i.e. it should attract a magnet).
  3. The surface of the cookware should be smooth.

The reason why all of these conditions have to be met is because an induction cooktop transfers current onto the cookware only based on contact, and if that is not established properly, then you would have a cold pan.

If you have smooth and flat cast iron cookware, then you could use it on an induction cooktop right away. If you have an induction glass top then you need to be precise in selecting the cast iron cookware because any uneven pan could end up scratching the glass surface and also end up rattling. Although the surface of a cast-iron is rougher in most cases, it can be used on an induction cooktop by smoothening its bottom.

What are the effects of using cast iron on an induction cooktop?

One of the major causes of concern for most of you would be the effect a cast iron cookware could have on your brand-new induction cooktop. Compared to other kinds of cookware, cast iron is prone to cause scratches on the induction cooktop surface. This can be avoided by taking extra care and attention to detail.

The grittier and rough bottom of most cast iron pans can cause damage to your induction cooktop. Porcelain-coated cast iron pans are available in the market, which can be used to avoid this. For all the ‘Grandma’s pan’ users, we would recommend you to use a parchment paper or baking mat as a protective layer in between the burner and cookware.

Why do people love and want to use cast iron pans on induction cooktops?

Compared to other cookware options available in the market, a cast iron pan is considered to be the Masterchef cookware product, because it naturally has an innate quality of enhancing the flavor profile of any dish cooked on it.

It can withstand very high temperatures, making it an ideal cookware choice for long and slow cooking processes. American Dietetic Association conducted a research on the benefits of using cast iron, which also suggested that cooking food items using cast iron cookware promotes dietary iron leaching.

What are the drawbacks of using cast iron on induction cooktops?

The main reason why most of you are looking for an answer to our question in discussion is because of the drawbacks. All of us look for an option that is easy to use and does not require any external effort or influence to make it work. Cast iron pans and cookware should work just fine on an induction cooktop but it does have certain drawbacks.

These drawbacks kind of pull users from using their traditional cast iron pans on their brand-new induction cooktops. If you are using an enamel seasoned cast iron pan, then you could experience chipping of this enamel layer coated on the pan. Chipping is inevitable especially when the pan is subjected to a sudden temperature shift, overheating, and even dropping.

Why is cleaning a cast iron pan a nightmare?

As we already discussed, enamel-coated cast iron or smooth seasoned cast iron should work fine on your induction cooktop. The downside of using an enamel-coated cast iron pan is that it has to be washed and cleaned carefully. 

Scouring and washing tend to peel off some or most of the seasoning done on the cast iron pan. Gentle wiping, followed by hot water wash, and brush cleaning are highly recommended. This means, you simply cannot throw the cast iron pan into your dishwasher.

How do temperature and current from an induction cooktop affect cast iron cookware?

Induction cooktops are designed to achieve quick, uniform, and efficient cooking. A cast iron cookware, on the other hand, is known for its slow and long cooking benefits. Since it is a slow conductor of heat, rapid temperature differences could result in the formation of hotspots.

It is for this reason that a flat and smooth surface is mandatory. You could simply increase the temperature slowly when cooking with a cast iron pan or cookware, to achieve the best result. Most of the traditional ‘Grandma’s pans’ tend to have been made of cast iron even on their handles, so when you use it on an induction cooktop, the excellent heat retention property possessed by a cast iron could cause even the handles to heat up, so you should be careful when handling them. Wear safety gloves to ensure not to burn yourself.

Using an appropriate size cast iron pan or cookware is also essential to ensure that the heat and temperature are transferred evenly throughout the cookware. When you place your big cast iron pan on a smaller induction coil element-based induction cooktop, then it could end up in uneven cooking.

When you place an appropriate size cast iron pan on your induction cooktop and ignite it slowly, the heat starts to travel from the center of the pan towards the edge, providing an even temperature distribution. Make sure to follow this to achieve the best results, and not ruin your cast iron pan.

Why does a cast iron pan take a long to heat up and cool down on an induction cooktop?

This particular question is a subjective one because cast iron has this innate property of slow heat conduction so it naturally takes up a lot of time to heat up and cool down. A cast-iron pan can be damaged if you subject it to sudden temperature changes. Compared to other pans and cookware materials, a cast iron pan or cookware tends to hold on to a temperature longer.

Conclusion

Will induction cooktop work with cast iron? We all know the answer to it now. The answers we have discussed for various doubts and questions above should have given you a better understanding of this combination. Use an appropriate size, seasoned cast iron pan on your induction cooktop, raise the temperature or heat from the induction cooktop slowly, wear safety gloves, and follow the appropriate cleaning procedure. This is all you got to do to make use of your traditional cast iron ‘Grandma’s pans’ on your brand-new induction cooktop.