Any links on this page that lead to products on Amazon are affiliate links and I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase. Thanks in advance for your support! Disclosure.
When people think about buying an induction cooktop or stove, they want to know if they can use their existing cookware. Unlike gas or electric stoves, where nearly any pot or pan can be used, induction-compatible cookware must be used on induction cooktops. How to tell if cookware is induction ready is easy.
This article discusses what makes cookware induction ready and how to check if your cookware is induction friendly.
What makes cookware induction ready?
An induction cooktop uses electromagnetism rather than direct heat to heat the cooking vessel.
A magnetic field is generated above the induction cooktop. Therefore, the base has to contain a magnetic material such as cast iron, carbon steel, or magnetized stainless steel for it to work. If the pan does not contain a magnetic material, it will not work on an induction cooktop.
If the base is not made entirely of a magnetic metal, such as cast iron, it must contain a magnetic metal for the cookware to be induction compatible. It is for this reason that some stainless steel pans are induction ready, and some are not.
If your cookware is not induction ready, that may be one of the reasons why your induction cooktop may not be working.
How do magnetized and non-magnetized stainless steels differ?
The two main types of stainless steel are ferritic and austenitic. The atoms in these steels are arranged differently. Due to the different atomic arrangements, ferritic steels are typically magnetic, while austenitic steels usually are not.
The magnetism exhibited by ferritic steel is due to the high iron concentration and the microstructure of the steel. If stainless steel is alloyed with a sufficient amount of a magnetic metal such as nickel, the microstructure changes from ferrite to austenite. This change to austenite results in the stainless steel being non-magnetic.
Non-magnetic stainless steel has nickel and has varying amounts of nickel. For example, it can be 18/10, 18/8, or 18/4, referring to chromium and nickel percentages, respectively.
Another factor that identifies induction friendly cookware is the pan bottom. As mentioned above, the magnetic field on an induction stove is generated above the cooktop surface.
A pan with a flat bottom is most effective in the cooktop making contact with this magnetic field. This can be checked by using a ruler.
Using a stainless steel pan with a dent, ding, or is more than slightly warped is problematic as the heat distribution will be uneven.
Related Article: Stainless Steel Cookware Sets Made in USA
Testing Pots and Pans for Induction Cooking
It is simple to test the induction compatibility of your pots and pans. Place a magnet on the base of your pan, and if it sticks firmly, it will work with your induction cooker. If it doesn’t stick firmly, it may work, but not efficiently.
If the magnet has no pull toward the base of the pan, it doesn’t have the metals needed to create heat with an induction cooker.
A refrigerator magnet is perfect for testing a piece of cookware for induction compatibility. Before you head out to buy your induction cookware, grab a magnet from the fridge to test different pans and pots.
Since not all stainless steel cookware will work on induction cooktops, you'll want to check if your cookware is induction ready before buying it.
Another way to find out if your pan will work on your induction burner is to pour a little bit of water into a pot or pan and place it on the unit. After switching the unit on, if the LCD or LED flashes an error message, the cookware is not induction friendly.
Look for the "Induction Compatible" Symbol
The symbol for induction cookware looks like a spiral or a coil spring. It is sometimes stamped on the bottom of the pan or printed on the outside packaging.
Sometimes the manufacturers stamp "induction suitable" on the bottom of the pan.
Organizing Your Induction Cookware
There are a couple of ways to decide what cookware to buy.
The first course of action is to purchase the best induction cookware set or individual pieces you can afford.
The second option is to find out which cookware pieces you need and buy those. First, determine the cooking vessels you want to prepare your meals using your induction cooktop.
This list could include a saucepan, cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven, and a non-stick frying pan/skillet. Some cooks like to have a sauté pan, a stockpot, and a casserole pot as well.
Next, inventory your current cookware collection to see which pieces are induction ready. Test (magnet) and examine the base (should be smooth and flat) of each cooking vessel you currently have. Make a list of the ones that are induction ready.
Last, compare the cookware you need with the induction ready pieces you have. This gives you a good idea of which pots and pans you'll need to purchase.
When shopping for your new pots and pans, compare the cost of a set with the price of buying the pieces individually. You might save a few dollars if you buy a small set and add individual pieces.
If you have the means and desire, you could buy all new cookware and supplement those with the pieces you have. In that case, the decision becomes whether to buy an induction compatible cookware set or individual pieces or a combination of both.
The magnet test is the easiest way how to tell if cookware is induction ready.
When shopping for cookware for induction cooking, keep an eye out for information on the pan’s base stating it is induction ready. If you put a magnet in your purse or messenger bag, you’ll be able to check the pan yourself.
If you are purchasing cookware online, be sure it explicitly states in the description that it is compatible with induction cooktops. Additionally, check the information on the manufacturer’s website to make sure the cookware is induction ready. This verification ensures you will purchase cookware that works with induction cooktops and stoves.
Most Induction ready cookware works on gas, electric, radiant, and smooth cooktops. It is handy to have pots and pans that can be used on various heat sources.