Ceramic cooktops are made of glass fired at an extremely high temperature, giving the surface a high degree of strength and durability. Unlike traditional stoves, which feature raised burners that trap grease and crumbs, ceramic glass cooktops offer a smooth cooking surface for easy cleanup. Understanding the basic facts about ceramic cooktops can make it easier to purchase, operate and maintain your cooktop.
Ceramic cooktops rely on one of two basic technologies. Standard models have electrical heating elements hidden beneath the glass. These units deliver radiant heat to the surface of the cooktop, which then transfers to pots or pans to cook food. Once you turn the cooktop off, the heat remains in the ceramic surface and takes time to cool down. Advanced ceramic cooktops rely on magnetic induction rather than traditional heating elements. An electric current generates a magnetic field beneath the cooktop surface. This magnetic field excites particles within the pot or pan, causing it to heat up. Unlike standard electric cooktops, induction units heat the pan, not the ceramic top. Once the pan is removed from the stove, no more heat is generated and the cooktop stays cool.
Almost any type of cookware can be used with traditional ceramic cooktops, though for best results, the Utah State University Cooperative Extension suggests flat-bottomed cookware sized to fit each burner element. Avoid dragging any cookware on your ceramic glass cooktop to reduce the risk of scratches. Induction-powered ceramic cooktops only work with magnetic cookware, as the magnetic particles are needed to generate heat. Choose flat-bottomed pans made from cast iron, steel or stainless steel.
Care and Maintenance
Clean your ceramic cooktop using products recommended in the owner's manual. Each time you cook, wipe away spills and splatters when the cooktop cools to avoid burns. If the spilled item contains sugar, clean it up right away, before it has a chance to cool, to prevent permanent damage to the ceramic surface. Use a nonabrasive scrubbing pad or ceramic cooktop scraper to clean your appliance, or choose tools recommended by the manufacturer. Steel wool and other abrasives can scratch these cooktops and should not be used.
Unlike traditional stoves, with their bulky burners and grates, ceramic glass cooktops offer a smooth surface to speed up cleaning and care. Smooth cooktops also offer greater energy efficiency than stoves equipped with coils or disks, according to the Maryland Energy Administration. Drawbacks associated with ceramic glass cooktops include the risk of damage due to dropped objects and the need to use special cleaners to prevent damage. In addition, pressure canners, water bath canners and similar canning equipment generally should not be used with ceramic glass cooktops due to the risk of scratches, cracks or other damage.