What Happens if You Use Normal Pans on an Induction Hob?

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What if you have an induction hob but not any of the specific pans for cooking on it?

There may be cases where you think about using a regular pan on your induction cooktop, but should you? You probably will need to know what could happen first.

Nothing will happen if you use normal pans on an induction hob. Induction cooktops can only heat up magnetic pans.

If you place a glass, copper, or aluminum pot on an induction hob, the pans will stay cold. Therefore, you’ll need to buy magnetic cookware to adequately cook with on an induction hob.

Induction cooktops will only operate with pans that contain ferrous metal in the flat bottom section. Ferrous metals have iron and offer magnetic abilities.

Your normal cookware won’t allow the magnetic field to pass through the base, so there’s no electric current in your pan, which is what causes the pan to heat up. Copper, glass, and aluminum will simply stay cold on the induction cooktop.

The easiest way to tell if a piece of cookware will work is to hold a magnet up to it. If you’re curious to understand how induction hobs work and what happens if you try to use a standard pan on them, be sure to keep reading!

Why Normal Pans Won’t Work On Induction Hobs

Normal pans aren’t magnetic, which the induction hob needs to generate heat. Your stove creates an electric circuit and a magnetic field to cook. However, that circuit doesn’t exist without a magnetic base to travel through.

That’s why normal pans won’t work properly. Unfortunately, you can’t force your regular cookware to work on an induction surface. If you want to check whether a piece of cookware is compatible with your induction stove, hold a magnet up to it. You should notice the magnet’s attraction to the pan right away.

Induction Compatible Pans

Induction-friendly pans contain ferrous metal at their base, allowing them to draw the electric current through the stove. There are plenty of options for an induction cooktop, including:

  • Cast iron
  • Enameled cast iron
  • Magnetic stainless steel
  • Black iron
  • Porcelain enamel coating on ferrous metal
  • Fully clad cookware

You can find all of these options online; the brand’s selling page should state if their products are induction friendly. If you’re shopping for new cookware in person, you can always bring a small magnet with you to make sure you’re getting something you can use!

What Makes a Pan Induction Compatible?

Induction-compatible pans are magnetic and have a completely flat bottom, and any pans that have begun to “dome” won’t work. Doming occurs when your pan has a thin bottom and is put to high levels of heat.

Once you have your pan on an induction surface, doming is less likely to occur. However, warping can happen very quickly on gas and electric stovetops, depending on the material of your pan. This issue is prevalent with many nonstick pans.

Black man cooking and making a mess on an electric stove in the kitchen while drinking a beer. Preparing food. Messy kitchen counter

You can check for doming by placing a small amount of water in the pan and setting it on a flat surface. If it looks like there is an “island” in the center of your pan, then it’s starting to warp. You can also use a ruler on the bottom of the pan to see if it’s flat.

You’ll want to check for doming if you have a magnetic pan that doesn’t seem to warm up on your induction stove. While it’s compatible, the current can’t efficiently pass through the cookware.

Non-Induction Compatible Pans

Some pans won’t work with your induction stovetop, including: 

  • Copper
  • Aluminum
  • Glass

While you can use them on your induction cooktop, you’ll need additional tools to do so. If you want to use your induction stove at its highest efficiency, you should use only induction-friendly cookware. 

You’ll find better performance, efficiency, cooking times, even heating, and more benefits when using the proper cookware on your stovetop.

Will Induction Pans Work on a Normal Stove?

Induction pans will work on a normal stove. The induction-friendly materials are compatible with electric and gas stoves, making them a more versatile option for many people. 

For example, cast iron and some stainless steel pans are induction friendly but would work just as nicely on a gas stove. In fact, cast iron pans are well-loved by chefs for their versatility, conductivity, and heat dispersion abilities. They work well on all types of stoves!

Suppose you want your own cast iron pan to use on your induction cooktop. In that case, I recommend the Calphalon Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron 12-Inch Skillet from Amazon.com. It holds heat well and for a long time, keeping the food warm. Plus, it works on all oven surfaces!

The cast-iron skillet is only one type of material that works on all stovetop types. There are plenty more for you to use, including stainless steel or other metals with a magnetic base.

Two Types of Stainless Steel

When buying new stainless steel pans, you want to be careful since there are two different types. Only one of them is magnetic and therefore compatible with your new induction cooktop.

Before induction stoves came out, there were no magnetic stainless steel pots and pans. So, if you have anything at home that came out before the year 1970, it’s not going to work. Today, however, more stainless steel brands are making their products induction-friendly.

Many brands will mark their induction pans with the word or another symbol on the base of the pan. You can check your cookware at home to see if there’s any indication or marking. 

Non-Compatible Materials With a Magnetic Base

You also might find non-compatible materials that actually can work on an induction stove. For example, a copper pan with a magnetic center will work. While an all-copper piece of cookware wouldn’t be efficient, a copper pan made with a bottom from a different material will heat up on the induction stovetop.

How Induction Stovetops Work

Induction hobs work by heating your pan with an electromagnetic field. Inside of the hob, there are induction coils. As electricity passes through those coils and your magnetic pan, the stove creates heat.

The hob stays cool to the touch- making it an excellent option for families with young kids and curious pets! There’s no chance of them getting burned if they touch the hob. However, if you’ve had a pan on it recently, there might be a small amount of warmth left behind.

The electric coils cool down from a fan, which runs automatically in many models. It ensures the system is entirely cooled, and you might hear some noises coming from your stove after you cook.

How To Use an Induction Stove

Using your induction stove is much like using a gas or electric stove. You need to first turn the stove on, then select the heating options you want. Many brands use a + and – sign to indicate the heat settings.

From there, you put the pan on and cook like normal! Some models of stoves are a bit different. Still, you should quickly figure out how to use them since the differences are at a minimum.

Today, many induction cooktops come with an automatic pan detection feature. If you lift the pan off of the surface of the stove, it will shut itself down. This feature can be annoying since it requires you to re-input all of your settings.

Additionally, this feature will cause your stove to stay off when using an incompatible pan with the induction surface. The feature is for your safety, but it also lets you know the pan won’t work or cook your food.

You should only lift the pan when you’ve finished cooking. Doing so allows the hob’s surface to cool down while the machine runs its cooling fans in the induction coils. It should take around three to five minutes, with most models, to finish the cool-down process.

How Induction Is Different From Gas and Electric

Induction only heats the pan, while electric and gas stoves first heat the hob, which then warms the pan. Induction is much more direct because of how it works without heating the hob.

Since induction only has to heat the pan, you’ll notice that it works faster than traditional types of stovetops. As a bonus, there’s never going to be any burned food on your stove. You can easily clean any spills with a single wipe too.

However, the only downside to having an induction cooktop is that you can’t use any pan you want on it. You need to make sure you’re using magnetic cookware pieces. These options for cookware might be more expensive than options that don’t use materials compatible with your induction stove.

Are Induction Stoves More Efficient?

Induction stoves are more energy-efficient than gas and electric stovetops. With induction, about 85% to 90% of the heat generated goes towards heating the pan.

With gas about 45-50% of the generated heat is used toward cooking. Conventional electric stoves have an efficiency of around 65-70%. 

It’s unlikely that your gas or electric stove comes with safety shutdown features, while an induction stovetop almost always will. These settings may shut down your oven after a certain amount of time or if they sense electrical overflow occurring.

Overall, it’s great to have these additional features. You receive more protection than you would with other types of stoves.

How To Use Non-Induction Pans on an Induction Hob

You won’t be able to use some materials on your induction hob. However, you might already have some compatible pieces that you can use right now at home.

Stainless steel is a classic and commonplace material for cookware today and you can find them in everyone’s kitchen! You’ll be happy to know that some stainless steel pots and pans are induction friendly, depending on what materials make them. Cast iron is another great option.

Many people have concerns over whether their nonstick pans will work. Newer cookware options come with a seal that indicates induction heating. Just like with stainless steel options, you’ll find nonstick pans that do and don’t work on the induction cooktop.

Try an Interface Disk

If you only have non-induction-friendly cookware at home, you can try adding an interface disk to your kitchen tools. The interface disk is magnetic and allows the induction stove to create a magnetic field- even if you use a non-compatible pan on top of it.

The disk heats up, which then heats your pan. This method takes a little longer to cook food, but you won’t have to replace all of the cookware you already have at home! I recommend the CozyKit Store Induction Diffuser from Amazon.com. 

Black man cooking and making a mess on an electric stove in the kitchen while drinking a beer. Preparing food. Messy kitchen counter

This disk works well to provide you with a bridge between your induction stove and your normal pots and pans. Plus, it’s a great price and comes in a few different sizes. It also distributes the heat evenly, helping make cooking much more straightforward.

The only real downside is that it’s slower than using an induction-friendly pan on the stove since the disc needs to heat before it can warm the pan- which finally heats your food.