This question concerns only an induction stove, which I abbreviate to IS (and not an electric oven with coiled elements).

I already know that the energy from a Chinese Wok Range exceeds, and so is impossible to reproduce, with an IS at home, but can anything be done to maximise the energy of an IS? Please correct me if I erred in my terminology; I know no physics.

This states the impropriety of woks for IS, but does it imply that certain cookware can convey and realise more energy from IS? If so, which cookware? This comment mentions 'cast iron skillet':

Throw out the wok. They are worthless with electric ranges. Even home gas ranges don't do a whole lot better. The gas burners in Chinese places are crazy!!! Get a big cast iron skillet and use that instead. Lots of heat, preheat for a while. Cook in batches.

If you velvet and cook at a higher heat you will get much closer.

  • You can't change the energy output of a stove. Only the engineer who produced the stove could have chosen to create a stove with more energy output. That's a side remark though, because your actual question seems to be "how to make wokking work on induction", and Bob M's answer addresses that.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 2, 2016 at 9:42

3 Answers 3


An induction cooktop is already more efficient than a conventional electric range, but there are some "gotchas" due to the way it works. The way an induction heating element works is via magnetic induction (hence the name), which means it's causing electrical currents to flow within the pan itself, which heats the metal (but don't worry, there's no way these currents can shock you). This is a very efficient way to heat the pan, but it requires two things. First, the pan has to be made of a "ferromagnetic" material (which basically means iron or most steels), and second, that the pan bottom be VERY close to the cooktop surface. It's that last part that makes a wok, with its curved bottom, generally unusable with this sort of cooktop. And this also means that copper and aluminum cookware doesn't work well at all, unless you put a disc of iron or steel between the bottom of such cookware and the induction element surface (in which case, that intermediate disc is basically acting as a hot plate).

If you really want to use a wok - and there are certain lots of reasons to - you pretty much have to get a high-BTU gas burner.

  • +1. While there are technically ways to change the energy transfer rate from pan to food (by choosing a different pan material), there is no way to heat a wok-shaped vessel properly on a flat induction stove.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 2, 2016 at 9:40
  • Note that using ferromagnetic materials is in essence a way of optimising the energy output of an induction stove: the induction principle works with any conductive material. The reason iron/steel works better than copper or aluminium is 1. that ferromagnetic material “sucks in” the magnetic field particularly well and 2. that iron is not a too good conductor. It actually has some resistivity against which the current can apply “friction”, which is really what heats the cookware. Whereas copper and aluminium conduct so well that the current passes without doing much work. Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 21:21

There are actually induction cookers made for woks. The glass cooktop is actually concave so it fits a wok. I know I asked Santa for one last X-mas. The wattage is 1600, so it's ok, better than most anaemic gas stoves and doesn't need a wok ring to support the wok. It's not too expensive, $280.00, considering it's portable and pretty efficient.

Cons...short electric cord. And with any induction cooker, don't share plugs with any other electrical appliance. Wok has to be 36cm to fit in the concave surface just right. If you have the knowhow or can have an electrician come and rewire you could get the 220 volt one installed and it would give you more wattage, more heat.


Cast iron and seasoned steel pots and pans are the best candidates for efficiency because they have the greatest density of Ferrous iron (compared to stainless which does not react to Magnetism).

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