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If you’re looking for a quick answer: "Yes!" You can absolutely use a cast iron skillet on an induction burner. In fact, cast iron is one of the best materials for induction friendly cookware. It’s a common myth that you can’t use cast iron on induction burners, which likely stems from a misunderstanding of how induction cooktops work.

How does an induction burner work? Magnets

Induction stovetops are using magnets to create electric heat. So, the best cookware for induction stovetops is cookware that is naturally magnetic—which means that it's a ferrous metal. Guess the symbol for iron in the periodic table of elements? It's Fe for ferrous. Iron and steel are your best bets for induction while materials like ceramics, aluminum, and copper need to have a steel or iron plate bonded into them to be effective.

So how does the magnet / magnetism in an induction stovetop actually work? Induction stovetops have a coil of copper wire beneath a glass ceramic plate (this is what you set your cookware on). When you turn on your stove, an alternating electric current passes through this wire, which in turn creates a fluctuating magnetic field above the burner. When you place an iron or pan on top, this field creates many smaller electric currents within the metal, which heats up your cooking vessel. (This is the magic of induction: your pan heats itself up from within.) Thanks to the magnetic heating process, cooking on an induction burner gives you much more even heat and can eliminate hotspots on your cooking surface. Pots and pans also heat up more quickly on an induction burner, so be careful (more on this below).

Since induction burners rely on a magnetic field to generate heat, they’ll only work with cookware that’s made of ferrous metals (that is, metals that contain iron). Cast iron and most stainless steel pans work well on induction, but copper or aluminum won’t, unless it’s been specially built to work with induction. (Not sure if a pan will work with induction heating? Try putting a magnet on the bottom of it; if the magnet sticks to the pan, you’re good to go.) This magnetic field also extends a few millimeters beyond the surface of the burner, so it doesn’t matter if your skillet has a heat ring, it’ll still work just fine. This is especially true for our pans, since they have a heat ring that’s less than 1.5 mm thick.

Why does my pan even have a heat ring?

On the bottom of your Field Skillet, you’ll notice a thin, raised ring that lifts the pan a little bit off the surface of your cooktop; this is a heat ring. Heat rings are actually an ode to vintage cast iron and cooking appliances. When wood-fired stoves were invented, they had circular openings (called “eyes”) in the top that look similar to our modern burners. These openings were usually covered with a metal coverpiece when not in use, and could be removed for maximum heat delivery when cooking. Heat rings helped create a seal when pans were placed over these openings, preventing smoke from drifting into the house.

Even with today’s modern stovetops, heat rings play an important role in stabilizing cast iron pans. Here’s the reality: it’s impossible to make a perfectly flat pan, so we (and every other pan manufacturer) engineer specifications to get our skillets as close to flat as possible. If a pan isn’t close to flat, this becomes especially obvious on any glass-topped stove, whether induction or electric. However, heat rings allow us to manufacture our pans extremely close to flat. (Without a heat ring, you’re more likely to have a wobbly skillet, so beware of cast iron pans that don’t have them.)

Even without these added practical benefits, heat rings add a subtle nod to the vintage designs that inspired our modern cast iron cookware. Part of why we included a heat ring is simply because it looks great; we’re very intentional about the design of our pans, and they wouldn’t be the same without a heat ring.

How to use cast iron on an induction stovetop:

Cooking in cast iron is pretty much the same when using an induction burner versus any other cooking surface. However, there are two key tips that are worth calling out:

1.

Preheat your pan over low heat. Fast temperature changes aren’t good for cast iron; the iron expands as it heats up, and retracts as it cools. In extreme cases, forcing this process to happen too quickly can cause issues like cracking or warping. Induction burners are known for heating up a pot or pan much more quickly (this is one of induction’s advantages). We recommend preheating your pan over low heat on your induction burner for a few minutes before turning the temperature up. This will heat the skillet up gradually, and more evenly, helping to prevent any hot spots.

2.

Use a burner that matches the width of your pan as closely as possible. While this holds true for a gas or electric stovetop as well, it’s even more important when working with induction. Cooking on an appropriately sized burner will ensure that the pan’s cooking surface heats evenly.

Will cast iron scratch the glass on my glass-top stove?

The possibility of scratching is a frequent concern for people cooking on any kind of glass-topped stove, whether that’s electric or induction (they’re not the same!). Scratching is a very rare occurrence, but it can occasionally happen if you’re using a pan with a rougher exterior. This is one of many reasons why they make smooth, well-machined cast iron skillets, which will almost never scratch a glass stovetop.

To avoid any possibility of scratching, make sure you’re not sliding your pan across the stovetop. If you need to move a skillet to another burner, pick it up and set it back down like you would on a gas stove. And most importantly, don’t drop a pan on your stovetop; this could crack the glass.

The key takeaway here is that cast iron works well on any type of cooking surface. If anything, it’s particularly well suited for induction stovetops, thanks to the magnetic properties of iron. So if you’ve been holding back on cooking with cast iron on your induction burner, or if you’ve been thinking about switching away from a gas stove, wait no more.