A halogen cooktop is a type of ceramic glass cooktop that uses a halogen bulb to heat food instead of an electric coil or a gas flame. Its ease of use and ability to be quickly cleaned makes it a very popular kitchen stove option, but there are some things to consider before choosing it over a gas or electric cooktop. Serious cooks will often opt for gas stoves, and electric stoves can be far less expensive in the long run.
There are three ways that heat transfers from a heating element: convection, conduction and radiation. Convection is when heat is transferred via a liquid or gas (such as the hot air in an oven). Conduction is when heat is directly transferred from surface to surface (such as a pancake on a hot griddle). Radiation doesn't require any physical contact at all; the heat is transferred by electromagnetic waves in the same way that the sun heats the earth. A halogen cooktop uses the radiation from a halogen bulb under a ceramic glass surface to heat food.
Gas and electric cooktops rely on a combination of convection and conduction. Gas cooktops are popular with serious cooks because they offer rapid temperature adjustment, while electric cooktops are often used because they are inexpensive. Halogen cooktops are very popular because they are easy to clean due to their smooth surface, and they offer fast, even heat.
Halogen cooktops use powerful bulbs filled with a halogen gas like bromine or iodine to create radiant heat, which heats the ceramic glass. The food cooks as a result of both the conduction between the ceramic cooktop and the pot, and also the direct radiation from the bulb itself. The halogen bulbs last far longer than typical incandescent bulbs.
Because there are no working parts exposed--only the smooth ceramic glass cooktop--they are very easy to clean. After your halogen cooktop has cooled, simply spray it with a kitchen cleaner and wipe it down with a soft cloth. Also, they often come with indicator lights that notify you when the surface is too hot to touch, an added safety benefit.
Be sure the pots and pans you use match the recommendations of the manufacturer of your halogen cooktop. Some pans, such as those that are round-bottomed or of the incorrect size, may not work well with ceramic glass cooktops. Also, it is possible to break the glass top, which is difficult and expensive to replace, so proper care must be taken.
Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.