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What are Hot Plates?

A Kaminsky
A Kaminsky

Hot plates look like a single electric stove burner, and that's usually exactly what they are. People often use them if they have an efficiency apartment, dorm room, or a room in a boarding house. They are good for small cooking chores, such as boiling water or heating soup. Powered by electricity, a hot plate may have either one or two burners. In general, each burner will have an adjustable heating control, which means that it isn't necessary for both to be on even if one is not being used.

Someone shopping for a hot plate should look for one with adjustable temperature controls, a non-stick reflector plate for easier cleaning, and a safety switch that will cut the appliance off after a certain amount of time. This reduces the risk of fire. In fact, these appliances are often not allowed in dorm rooms because they do have what amounts to an open flame. Many fires have started when a tired college student fell asleep with a nearly empty pan of soup on a hot burner.

Hot plates are available almost everywhere small kitchen appliances are sold, usually with the hot pots and toaster ovens. They are relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to full-size appliances. Many models are also available online.

Hot plates are single burner stoves ideal for cooking small meals, like soup.
Hot plates are single burner stoves ideal for cooking small meals, like soup.

Solid platform hot plates are invaluable in the laboratory — they're right up there with the Bunsen burner. These devices are meant to heat chemicals or other solutions for lab experiments. Some even have magnetic stirrers to keep the heat and motion going at the same time. This type is usually available from laboratory supply stores.

Hot plates can be lifesavers for those who need some way to cook, but don't have much space. They should always be treated with care, with users following all common sense safety rules. Following those rules can reduce the chance of fires and injuries.

Discussion Comments


@LoriCharlie: It seems like hot plates only make sense for people who don't have a stove top. I guess maybe in some cities efficiency apartments don't come with a full kitchen?

And also, as the article said, people do still use lab hot plates. In fact, I remember using a hot plate when I took chemistry in college. They were really handy, because you could put them away after using them. So they didn't take up space in the lab when they weren't being used.


I've never known anyone who had a hot plate, and I've never had one, either. I just don't see the point of having a hot plate, as long as you have an oven or microwave. You can just as easily warm up a can of soup on the stove top as on a Corning hot plate!


@JaneAir - I'm not surprised you weren't allowed to have a hot plate in your dorm room. I wasn't either, and from what the article said, this seems to be pretty common. Hot plates can definitely be a fire hazard.

Also, these days it's pretty unnecessary to have a ceramic hot plate in a dorm room. Most dorm rooms at least come with a microwave. And if your dorm room doesn't have a microwave already, they're fairly cheap to buy. And not a fire hazard!


HotSmart hot plates are the only ones in the world that keep food hot on the plate (dish) itself; they allow you to enjoy food slowly and prevent overeating. They are being used by diabetic people and others with special needs who have to -- or enjoy -- eating slowly.


When I went to college, I really wanted to get one of these for my dorm room. However, even digital hotplates with automatic shut off were against the rules where I lived. So I decided not to risk it.


Hot plates are also "heat retentive plates" (Dishes) they keep food hot. They can remain still hot after 30+ minutes and need only one minute preheating in the microwave oven; They can even be handled safely by the rim with the bare hands while hot.

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    • Hot plates are single burner stoves ideal for cooking small meals, like soup.
      By: venusangel
      Hot plates are single burner stoves ideal for cooking small meals, like soup.
    • Hot plate slabs may be used in laboratories to heat chemicals.
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      Hot plate slabs may be used in laboratories to heat chemicals.
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      Hot plates can be used to boil water.