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Will Cast Iron Scratch an Induction Cooktop?

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So you have been thinking about buying an induction cooktop for your kitchen. However, you like cooking with your cast iron skillet but find yourself pondering whether the combination of the glass surface and a cast iron pan is a good idea. If you wonder whether cast iron can scratch your induction cooktop, the answer is yes, it can scratch the glass surface if you are not careful. 

How does induction cooking work?

This article will discuss ways you can protect your induction cooktop when using cast iron cookware. In case you are not familiar with induction cooking technology, let’s take a brief look at how induction hobs work.

The short version is an induction cooktop that uses electromagnetism to cook the food. The cooking vessel is turned into a cooker because the heat from the pan flows to the contents in the pan.

Here is an explanation of how induction cooking technology works in greater detail. There is a coil under the ceramic/glass surface of the induction cooktop.

When the unit is powered on, an alternating electric current flows through the coil. A magnetic field passes through the glass cooktop surface.

When a pot or pan with a ferromagnetic material such as iron or magnetic steel is put on the cooking zone, the changing magnetic field goes through the pan’s metal. A current is created and swirls around inside the metal. The pan gets hot and heats the pan’s contents.

As we alluded to earlier, for the induction cooker to work, the cookware used must be a ferromagnetic material, or the magnetic field won’t go through the pan.

Does cast iron work on induction cooktops?

Yes, the all-iron build guarantees that cast iron works on induction cooktops. However, there are positives and negatives to using the induction cooktop cast iron combination.

Since cast iron is thick, it has very good heat retention. Also, since there is iron in the base, the magnetic field goes through the entire pan.

Doesn’t cast iron scratch induction cooktops?

Your cast iron skillet may scratch your induction cooktop. There’s no dispute that you need to be careful. Here are some helpful tips to prevent your cooktop from being scratched.

It is possible to keep the surface of your induction cooktop looking smooth and pristine when using a cast iron pan and pot.

Keep the cooktop and cast iron cookware clean

It is important to keep the glass cooking surface of your induction hob clean. When I use my Duxtop 9600LS Induction Cooker, I wipe the surface and control panel before cooking with a wet microfiber cloth.

I also make it a practice to wipe the bottom of the pot or pan I plan to use. This is especially true when using cast iron. The base should not have rough spots or burrs.

After you are finished cooking then, clean your induction cooktop to remove any food or liquid. The ease of cleaning is one of the advantages over a gas stove or electric coil top stove.  

Carefully place cast iron skillet on cooktop

Place the cast iron pot or pan on the burner gently. For those who are used to using electric stoves with raised burners, this may be an adjustment.

Do not slide the skillet on the cooktop or move it around when you are cooking, as this increases the chances of the glass being scratched.

Smooth the base of the cast iron skillet

If you have an older cast iron skillet, the bottom can be rough or damaged. Sanding your pan could be used to smooth the base. An electric hand sander could be used, or if you don't have access to one, hand sanding is just fine.

Here are the basic steps:
  • Use 60 or 80 grit sandpaper.
  • Sand the skillet in a circular motion, following the shape of the pan.
  • Examine the skillet frequently so as not to make the pan too thin.
  • When the skillet is smooth, wash it with mild dish detergent to remove any particles.
  • Dry the skillet thoroughly.
  • Season the inside and outside of the skillet. Here is our guide on how to clean and season cast iron cookware.

Can I use a silicone baking mat?

I was interested to know if it is safe to use a silicone baking mat such as Silpat™. I emailed their customer service that question and received the following response.

"We do not recommend that you use your Silpat for this purpose as Silpat should never be in contact with a direct heat source. The heat cannot be equally distributed throughout the mat, and if the temperature were to exceed 500°F, it could cause damage to the Silpat."

Use a scratch protector

Another idea on preventing damage to your cooktop when using cast iron cookware is to invest in an Induction Cooktop Scratch Protector.

Invest in an enameled cast iron skillet

Enameled cast iron pots and pans are an alternative to bare cast iron. A vitreous enameled coating is applied to the bare cast iron, another coating is applied to the interior, and the last coating is the exterior color coat. The pot or pan is then air-dried and fired in an oven.

Although they are a bit lighter than cast iron, depending on the size of the pan, they can be too heavy for some folks. Of course, an enameled cast iron pan is a lot smoother than bare cast iron.

There are a few advantages to enameled cast iron over bare cast iron. It is a lot smoother, doesn’t have a pitted surface, easier to clean, and can be used to prepare acidic foods. (A well-seasoned cast iron pan can be used to prepare acidic foods). Heat is more evenly distributed in an enameled cast iron pan.

On the downside, enameled cast iron heats up a bit slower than bare cast iron and can’t withstand the high temperatures like bare cast iron can.

Both types of cast iron cookware are durable and, if well-cared for, can be passed to the next generation in the family.   

Caring for your cast iron skillet 

Keeping the skillet clean and dry inside and out protects your cooktop surface.

Routine cleaning

  • Scrub the skillet with a nylon bristle brush when the pan is warm.
  • Rinse with hot water.
  • Dry thoroughly with a dish towel or paper towel to prevent rust.

Removing bits of food stuck on the pan

  • Sprinkle coarse kosher salt into a warm skillet.
  • Rub the salt into the pan with a kitchen towel.
  • Discard the salt and food and rinse with hot water.
  • Dry thoroughly with a kitchen towel or heat the skillet over low heat to remove the moisture.
  • Let the pan cool. Do not store with the lid on the pan.

What cookware is suitable for induction cooking?

Induction stoves need specific cookware to work. This is because this type of cooker relies on electromagnetic fields to heat the base of your pot or pan. Therefore, the bottom of your cookware must have magnetic properties.

Skillets, saute pans, and other cooking vessels that have bases made with steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron, and certain stainless steels are induction compatible.

Stainless steel needs to have iron in the base and be essentially nickel-free to work with induction.  

What cookware does not work with induction?

Pure aluminum, glass, and pure copper are not suitable for induction stoves. However, if there is a layer of magnetic materials in the base, the pot or pan can then be used on the induction cooker.

The simplest way to check if a pot or pan is induction compatible is to place a magnet on its base. If it sticks firmly, it will work; however, if it sticks weakly or it doesn't stick at all, it is not suitable for your induction hob.

What's great about induction cooktops?

There are many reasons why induction cookers are becoming increasingly popular in the United States.

  • The surface of the cooker doesn't get hot.
  • Your kitchen doesn't get hot as there is minimal excess heat created from the burner.
  • It is unlikely that you will burn a surrounding item as the cooktop doesn't get hot.
  • Induction is a highly efficient cooking option.
  • Induction cookers cook your food quickly due to the direct heat.
  • Induction cooktops are sensitive to temperature adjustments, allowing you to cook your food with more precise control.
  • Once you remove the cookware item from the burner, the source of heat is gone. This means the burner can't be left on, so the risk of an accidental fire is eliminated.
  • They are easily cleaned.

Final Thoughts

Although using cast iron on your induction cooker bears the risk of scratching the glass, if you take the proper precautions, you can reap the benefits of using durable cast iron cookware with your induction stove without worrying. The ability to use cast iron cookware is one of the many benefits of using an induction cooker. 

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