‘The Essential Kitchen’ with Kevin Henry: Induction Cooking…I have seen the future and it is cool!

Kevin Henry

Today…

The laws of nature will be broken.

Matter as we know it will be altered.

Time will have no relevance.

The past is hot.

The future is COOL!”

Not since our ancestors squatted around an open fire, cooking the catch of the day of the day on a stick over an open flame has there been such a leap in cooking technology. With today’s modern kitchen consuming as much as 30 percent to 40 percent of household energy, the magnetic induction cook-top uses 90 percent less energy than that of a conventional gas or electric cook top, making it the most energy efficient form of cooking on the market today.

"Nothing is too wonderful to be true."- Michael Faraday 1831

The principle of magnetic induction was discovered in 1831 by Michael Faraday, a British physicist who laid the foundation to many of today’s common technologies. Faraday found that the electromotive force produced around a closed path is proportional to the rate of change of the magnetic flux through any surface bounded by that path. In other words, a magnetic induction cook-top uses electromagnetic energy to heat the cooking vessel itself, without generating heat on the surface of the cook top.  Compared to a traditional gas or electric cooking surface, magnetic induction is faster, safer, cooler and a more efficient form of cooking.

“Nothing is too wonderful to be true.” Michael Faraday 1831

The first patent for an induction cooker was filed in 1900, but the idea was never fully realized until Frigidaire created a prototype for a traveling road show showcasing the kitchen of the future.

The first real production induction cook-top was launched by Westinghouse in the 1970’s, but production ceased when the company was sold in 1975.

From here, development of induction cooking moved from the U.S. to Europe, where induction cooking was developed for the commercial market. Induction cooking was first introduced to the great kitchens of Europe’s leading hotels and restaurants as a way to reduce energy consumption and extreme temperatures, while at the same time allowing for the quick and safe preparation of food without the need for open flames and time consuming pre-heating of pots and pans.

"Nothing is too wonderful to be true."-Michael Faraday 1831

Today, adapted for residential use, the magnetic induction cook-top uses electromagnetic energy to heat the cooking utensil itself. When the unit is turned on, the induction coils produce a high frequency, alternating magnetic field, much like a radio wave, which flows through the cookware quickly and evenly, stimulating the iron molecules in the cookware to move back and forth rapidly, causing the molecules to collide, thus creating friction, which in turn creates heat to cook. Unlike traditional cooking surfaces that heat up and stay hot long after the meal has been prepared, the black glass-ceramic surface of the Induction-Top stays cool to the touch as it is unaffected by the magnetic field.

As with any new technology, the question of health and safety always comes up in regard to the effect that magnetic induction has on the human body. The answer is simple…none! The energy transmitted from a magnetic induction cook top is not considered a safety hazard according to most scientists and engineers. The radiofrequency radiation that is transmitted from an induction cook-top is less than those encountered during every day interaction with common household appliances.

The magnetic fields that are created during use are safer than electric fields. Electric fields interact with the water in a person’s body, which magnetic fields do not do.

The reason is simple; the water molecule is a polar molecule with an electrically positive end and an electrically negative end.

A water molecule within an electric field will tend to align with the field and when the field is oscillated, the water molecule will oscillate as well. This is how a microwave oven pops popcorn. Magnetic fields, on the other hand, go relatively unnoticed by water molecules or any other molecule in a body. So not only is induction cooking the most energy efficient form of cooking, I would have to say that it is the safest as well.

In closing, magnetic induction cooking is safe to use, easy to clean, quick to heat up as well as to cool down and most important, and energy efficient. It would be safe to say that in any other culture, this technology would be mistaken for magic.

The Benefits of Induction Cooking:

  • Because energy is directly transferred within the pan, induction cooking is extremely fast …even faster than gas.
  • Induction is much safer than gas or other electric cooking surfaces since there is no open flame, red-hot coil or other radiant heat source to burn or scorch if left unattended. No contact…No heat.
  • With no grates or grease catch to worry about, clean up is a breeze. Just use a damp cloth and wipe over the easy-to-clean surface.
  • Almost no ambient heat is produced since all the heat is being generated in the pan itself. This means a much cooler kitchen to work within.
  • Induction cooking is far more energy-efficient than gas or traditional electric cooking. The induction Cook-Top delivers 90 percent of the energy that it uses to the pan! Gas on the other hand delivers only 55 percent to the pan and traditional electric about 65 percent. In addition, when you remove the vessel from the induction-cooking surface, the cooktop immediately goes into standby mode, which uses almost no energy whatsoever.
  • Unlike a gas burner or electrical stove, the induction cooktop is incapable of producing heat on its own; only until a pan is placed on top of it does it generate a magnetic field that excites the magnetic molecules in the pan which creates instant, precise and very controllable heat.

(Kevin Henry is a designer, writer and speaker with over 25 years of experience in the kitchen industry. Henry has been behind the success of such brands as Snaidero, Poliform/Varenna, Küppersbusch, ALNO in North America and Bazzeo Earth Friendly Kitchens. Currently, he is the president and creative director at Group42, a design + marketing collective dedicated to redefining the boundaries of the modern kitchen. He can be reached at kmhenry@group42.net)