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Clean energy journalism for a cooler tomorrow

Video: Cooking without gas? Induction stoves are the future, so we test one out

Which pans work with an induction stove? How fast does it boil water? How well does it cook various foods? Watch to learn about climate-friendly cooking.
By Julian Spector

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man opening box with induction cooktop

Dumping fossil fuels will require changing how we cook, but what does that feel like in practice?

As a clean-energy reporter, I’ve been hearing more and more about the documented health impacts of gas stoves and policies designed to phase them out from new homes. But I’d never had a chance to cook with the climate-friendly alternative: induction stovetops. Most of our readers haven’t, either. 

Cooking generates just a sliver of household carbon emissions. But it’s an intensely personal activity that forges strong allegiances. The gas industry knows this and campaigns on the benefits of gas cooking. Climate hawks who want to eliminate fossil fuel combustion from buildings need to convince people that electric cooking is desirable too.

I wanted to tackle this subject by answering the basic questions that a lot of people still aren’t clear on. Why should someone consider switching to induction? Which pots and pans work on induction stoves? How fast does it boil water? How well does it cook various foods? I rent my home, so I’m not in a position to replace the stove. Instead, I bought a portable induction cooktop — an affordable way to try out this new tech. 

Watch the video for a crash course in induction fundamentals. I’ll just say that the new stove surprised me with how powerful it is. It crushed my gas stove in a head-to-head race to boil water. I burned some onions because it browned them so much faster than I expected. 

Induction has a learning curve because you can cook at highly specific, digitally controlled temperatures, unlike anything one can do with a gas flame. How hot should your pan be to fry an egg? I cook a lot of eggs but had never before cracked open that question. Once you get the hang of this specificity, it’s a real boon — you can simmer soup stock for hours knowing it will never boil, for instance. 

Then there’s the cleanliness. You aren’t combusting fossil fuels in your home, so your air quality is better. But you’re also not throwing off excess heat into the kitchen, since the magnetics heat the metal of your pan, not the surrounding air. And tidying up means simply wiping down a flat glassy surface.

I hope this video answers your basic questions about this clean cooking technology. If you have any more, tweet at us or drop them in the comments below, and Chef Julian will serve up answers.

Julian Spector is a senior reporter at Canary Media. He reports on batteries, long-duration energy storage, low-carbon hydrogen and clean energy breakthroughs around the world.