Induction cookware refers to cooking vessels that are specially designed to be used on induction range tops. The pots and pans have to be especially reactive to the magnetic field created by these types of burners, which are located underneath the flat top of the range. These burner elements generate electromagnetic frequencies that are transferred to the cooking vessel. This makes the vessel hot enough to cook the food, and the temperature is easily controlled through the knobs on the cooking stove top.
The term "ferrous" is frequently used to describe the proper cookware for induction cooking. Ferrous simply means that the cookware material has to be iron or iron-based to work on an induction range. Aluminum and glass cookware do not react with the magnetic fields created by the burners.
Many people believe that all stainless steel cookware can be used on induction ranges, but many pots and pans made from this metal are not appropriate for use on this type of equipment. Unless the manufacturer clearly states on the packaging that the cookware is suitable for induction, it most likely is not.
The only type of cookware that does not need an induction cooking safety note clearly stated are pots and pans made of iron. This includes the classic cast-iron cookware, most commonly skillets. The modernized cast iron that is traditionally covered with brightly colored enamel also falls into this classification.
If a cook is unsure if a pot or pan can be used on this type of stovetop, a simple test can be performed to assess its iron content. If a magnet placed on the bottom of the container strongly clings to the surface, the piece is okay to use on an induction range. If the attraction is weak or absent, it is not. A magnet as simple as the ones commonly found on refrigerator doors can be used for this test.
A significant number of induction cookware manufacturers have altered their production methods to ensure maximum magnetization. One metal layer on the bottoms of the pots and pans is made of highly-magnetized metal. It is commonly thick enough to adequately absorb the electromagnetic energy and change it into heat.
Upon its initial introduction, cookware specifically designed for use on induction range tops was high priced. In recent years, the popularity of these range types has risen with professional chefs and among European home cooks. This has resulted in cookware being offered in a variety of price ranges and styles.