Is there a generally accepted notion of high/medium/low flame that can be expressed visually?

I ask before concocting my own guidelines for peewee chefs, 8yrs+. Because there is wide variation in stove tops (Esp internationally), I want clear direction easy to remember.

For example, maybe high flame licks the grate, while low only curls around burner head. Or maybe something about the color of the flame?

Anything that can help define medium is most useful since the knob establishes highest and lowest flame.

2 Answers 2


An issue you'll have to deal with is diameter. A high flame on a smaller ring may put out more or less heat than a low flame on a bigger ring. While you might think the pan size would cancel that out, a big pan may need to go on a small ring for a gentle simmer. The height between the burner and the pan rest isn't exactly standardised either.

You might do better to think in terms of the pictures on the dial: big flame, little flame, and halfway in between. Even then you'd have to normalise for pan size. Perhaps assume a pan a bit wider than the biggest flame that ring delivers. Even the amount of variation between max and min is quite variable.

As for colour, if it's not blue, turn it off. That's a simple message for kids but it's a good starting point.

  • 3
    The nice thing about gas for this scenario is that it adjusts quickly, so you can just adjust if you realize that it's barely cooking or burning everything. That means that giving clear recipes may be more important than precise definitions of "medium".
    – Cascabel
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 22:04
  • 1
    @Cascabel very much so. We might want our onions to be sizzling gently but our pasta to be boiling vigorously and our sauce to be only just bubbling
    – Chris H
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 22:19
  • yup, picking the right pan and the right burner are important. Just trying to establish a high flame from a med or low as a starting point
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 0:09

Flame height will vary by stove design. Height relative to grate will vary. Most knobs have a low medium high.

Young (and old) chefs need to recognize temperature, how it effects the food, and adjust as necessary. What is nice about gas is you can adjust heat immediately.

  • my Chinese low was my U.S med-high. I might just arbitrarily call low 1cm and med 2cm etc until they recognize from experience as you say
    – Pat Sommer
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 0:13
  • And a 2 cm could be less heat than a 1 cm.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 8:30

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