According to the Seattle Times, magnetic induction is “the future of cooking.” Writer Craig Crossman fooled around with the GE Profile 36-inch induction cooktop—which stays cool to the touch as it heats pans at an incredibly fast speed:
It’s amazing to watch. I put a half-cup of water in the pan and turned the cooktop on. The water came to a boil in just 15 seconds. That’s faster than gas and even faster than a microwave oven can do it. On that very same cooking surface, an ice cube I had placed next to the pan of boiling water remained frozen.
Of course, this magical magnetized cooking don’t come cheap: This particular model costs $2,349, and the 30-inch variety is priced at $1,849.
Apparently, this technology has been used in Japan and Europe since the early ’90s, but it’s just starting to, um, heat up in the USA. For all the physics nerds out there, Carnegie Mellon’s student newspaper, the Tartan, explains how it works:
In an induction stove, an electromagnet is placed underneath the cooking surface. When an alternating current runs through the electromagnet, a rapidly changing magnetic field is produced. An electric ‘eddy’ current will be generated in large metal objects above this electromagnet, causing resistance heating. Unlike traditional electric stoves, this resistance heating takes place in the pot itself, not in a heating element underneath.
In order to use this technology, your cookware needs to be made of a magnetic material, like iron or steel. Stainless steel cookware with an aluminum core works fine; the best way to see if your pots and pans are induction-ready is to see if a magnet will strongly stick to them. If it will, you’re in business.