The classic gas stovetop has failed to keep up with modern technology and in recent years there have been some interesting alternatives to cooking on an open flame. It is an endless debate among homeowners and chefs alike, whether the gas cooker or the induction cooker is the best for the kitchen.
Each form of heating has its own benefits in both practical and environmental features. In this modern world, where technology affords it, we should always try to take the middle road when it comes to the environment.
But, there are always unignorable practicalities of certain kitchen gadgets that just make life easier. Safety is always a big factor too, especially if you have children or are fearful of home fires.
Bringing attention to how induction cookers work and their environmental benefits could help more people make eco-friendly changes in their homes and kitchens.
In order to make a well-informed comparison, we have done the hard work for you so you can get back to planning your kitchen – read on to learn more about gas and induction cooktops!
What Is An Induction Cooktop?
Induction cooktops, sometimes, are a form of heating a pan that doesn’t involve gas or a naked flame. It may surprise you to know that induction cooktops actually use currents and magnetic fields in order to create heat.
It’s important not to confuse induction cooktops with electrical cooktops, which rely on a heating element instead, which is not the same thing as induction cooktops.
An induction cooktop relies on a coil of copper wire below a ceramic plate to create heat. Essentially, the copper coil creates an oscillating magnetic field inducing a magnetic flux. The magnetic flux creates an ‘eddy current’, which is an electrical current created by a magnetic field.
It is the eddy current flowing through the resistance of the pot which in turn creates heat through oscillating and alternating electric currents.
That’s a bit of a mouthful, but in simple terms, induction cooktops rely on magnets and currents to heat the pot. Essentially, rather than relying on direct heat to heat the metal, the induction cooktop utilizes energy transfer instead.
One of the main reasons that heat transfer is so wasteless with induction is that no heat is lost in the air, it is nearly all transferred into the pan via induction.
What Is A Gas Cooktop?
Most people will have encountered a gas cooktop. In simplicity, a gas cooktop works the same way a campfire would – an open flame transfers heat to the metal which conducts heat rather than inducting heat.
As you turn the knob on your gas cooker, it will open a valve connected to your main gas line which will transport gas into a burner assembly. The burner is usually a circle that spreads the gas over different holes in order to create an even spread of heat.
A spark will ignite the gas thus creating a naked flame which will create heat which is conducted by the metal pan. By turning the knob up or down you are changing the amount of gas that passes through the burner and thus creating a larger flame and more heat.
Due to the open flame, a lot of energy is lost in the energy transfer and goes directly into your air. This will certainly mean your kitchen will be hotter than if you were using an induction cooker.
In essence, each cooktop relies on two different forms of heat transfers, induction, and conduction, each with its own merit.
As with anything in your kitchen, you need to consider practicality. What this means is that you need to think about if it is making your life easier and your cooking more efficient or if it is impeding your ability to work quickly and with ease.
In this case, the main space for debate is the speed with which your pan is heated. This is a game of numbers, and energy transfer, really.
Induction is able to transfer 80 – 90% of its energy into the food and the pan, whereas gas cooktops can only transfer around 70% which isn’t that much lower.
In practical terms, an induction cooktop can bring 48oz of water to boil in around three minutes. In comparison, a gas stove will take almost double this time. So, induction will heat up your food and pan faster.
A major con of induction cooking is that you may need a specific type of pan in order to induct heat properly.
As the induction cooktop relies on magnetic energy transfer to heat the pan, you will need a pan that is specifically high in iron, i.e. magnetic, in order to actually use the cooktop.
Unfortunately, pure copper, aluminum, glass, earthenware, stoneware, and some low-iron stainless steel cookware just won’t work. The best way to test if your cookware is suitable is to check if it is magnetic. Just hold a magnet to your pan and see if it sticks.
On the other hand, a gas cooktop can heat basically anything you put on top of it which gives it some points in terms of practicality. There are some specifically useful things that you can put on top of the gas cooktop, which an induction cooker can’t.
For instance, you can put a griddle straight onto your gas cooktop and it will heat up, and you have a wide and flat surface that is great for frying things diner style. Moreover, you can bring food directly to the flame of your gas cooktop which is really useful for certain things.
Whether that’s charing an eggplant or pepper, or bringing some life to shop-bought tortillas, the gas cooktop will cook basically anything as it is a simple open flame.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that induction won’t work so well if your pan isn’t completely flat. If you have an old and trusty pan but it is bent and warped from use, induction won’t be able to heat it that well. Although, a gas cooker’s flame may reach it.
Importantly, if your electricity goes off, for maintenance or otherwise, your induction cooker simply won’t work.
This can certainly be a problem when you come home from a long day of work to realize the maintenance you forgot about means that you can’t have a hot meal anymore.
Although, if your gas is off for the same reason, best find a new way to cook food.
The other issue worth bearing in mind is how heat is controlled. The great thing about a gas cooktop is that you can adjust the heat pretty quickly and efficiently due to the gas flow being the control of the flame and thus heat.
Comparatively, induction cookers can be slow to react to the heat adjustment, and you won’t be able to control the heat so quickly.
Although, let’s not forget about cleaning as can often happen in the kitchen. Needless to say, the flat surface of an induction cooktop is certainly easier to clean than the nooks and crannies of a gas cooktop. This is worth bearing in mind if you are a messy cook in the kitchen.
It may not surprise you that releasing gas into the air isn’t actually that great for the environment. So if we want to make a greener choice, which is worth considering these days, which is best?
Needless to say, gas cooktops aren’t environmentally friendly at all, and are a good example of historical ignorance of environmental issues in engineering generally.
Gas cooktops are an obvious cause of air pollution in your home and outside it. Gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde, directly into your face while you cook.
Not only does this have a bad effect on the environment it can potentially have adverse effects on your respiratory health.
Obviously, induction cooktops rely solely on electricity, and clean electricity at that. In addition to clean electricity, which just means the most energy efficient electricity, there is no energy wastage from induction cookers.
Gas cooktops require more energy in order to cook with and aren’t anywhere as efficient as induction cooktops in this regard. Plus, moving away from gas to more sustainable sources of energy is a great way to support the cause of climate change.
Which is Safer?
Safety should always be paramount in the kitchen, especially with children running around, and should be considered with all kitchen products. We are dealing with heat and fire here, cooktops are the number one cause of burns in the kitchen, so it is worth thinking about.
Again, it’s pretty obvious that open flames aren’t the safest thing to have in a kitchen. Whether your dishcloth actually catches fire, or your hair does while you try to light the temperamental gas stove, you could end up in some compromising situations.
Moreover, as mentioned before, the gas that comes out of your burner is relatively harmful if you are over-exposed to it, and can exacerbate respiratory conditions such as asthma. It can be pretty easy to accidentally leave a gas hob on as once the flame is of the gas becomes invisible.
If you leave your gas hob on for a while and light a cigarette or a candle near the kitchen then be prepared for a potential gas explosion. If you manage to light the gas in the pipes after it’s been on for a while, you might as well set your house on fire. Obviously, with children, an open flame is never great, so just be careful.
Induction cooktops on the other hand are pretty safe in general terms.
Firstly, due to the induction approach to heating, the actual area that emits heat isn’t going to get anywhere near as hot as your gas cooker because the heat is being transferred into the pan.
Nothing is technically heating up apart from the pan, heat is created with magnetic currents. There’s almost no chance that an induction cooktop could get hot enough to start a fire.
Although your pan is likely gonna be super hot from the induction heating so just bear in mind not to touch your pan. With induction cooking your kitchen should be cooler in general as with gas cooktops a lot of heat is lost to the air, whereas induction cooking is a lot less lossless.
This is a hard debate, gas stovetops seem super practical and versatile in comparison to induction cooking and it can often be hard to let go of what we are familiar with and embrace change.
With gas cookers, many people will see them as more efficient and powerful due to the fact they can visually see the flames heating the pan. On the other hand, induction cooking is a scientific process that can be pretty hard to understand and can seem reductive if you haven’t had the chance to use one.
But the numbers and research are there. If you are talking purely about the efficiency of heat transfer, the induction stovetop wins every time.
Gas cooktops waste a lot of heat in the air making them inefficient, they spew dangerous gasses into your kitchen that are harmful to both your family and the environment, and they are pretty dangerous as you are dealing with an open flame.
Induction cooktops, are generally better at heat transfer and are a more practical choice, should you have the correct cookware. Although if you are considering replacing your current cooktop, then you may already be replacing your kitchenware.
The resistance to induction cooktops is understandable but is a microcosm of why people aren’t making environmentally switches quicker, they simply aren’t well informed.
Choosing and understanding the benefits of an induction cooker could be the necessary step to make your household an energy-efficient one and a safe one at that.
If you have the right kitchenware, the induction cooker will trump the gas cooker in nearly every situation, make your change today and share the article so others can too!