I have a pretty average stove and oven. The oven can't even make 300°C.

Yet today I measured the temperature of my dutch oven, heated on the stove and it read almost 400°C. How is this possible? Can the durch oven somehow accumulate energy and reach higher energy, than the heat source? If I remember school physics, this shouldn't be the case.

I checked my IR thermometer on the wall and it seemed to read the correct temperature, so I assume, that its working.

What is most likely the issue here?

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  • Where exactly did you measure the temperature? Was it with the thermocouple in direct contact with the Dutch oven? If so, your observation is not so surprising: the temperature of the heating element in your oven is far more than the air temperature inside your oven. The same will happen (but less extremely) comparing the temperature of the surface of the Dutch oven to the air inside it. You are of course right that heat flows from hot regions to cold regions! Commented May 19, 2019 at 15:03
  • I used an IR thermometer and you can see where I measured on the image (the red dot). The dutch oven at this point was on the stove, not in the oven. Commented May 19, 2019 at 15:25
  • 3
    The heating elements inside of your oven and the cooktops (hobs) on the top of your stove are two different heat sources
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 16:27
  • @RossRidge yes, I know, but I would think, that my stove top can not achieve above 300°C either. Its pretty bad performance wise. Commented May 19, 2019 at 16:58
  • 3
    Heating elements on stove tops are typically not controlled by thermostats, while the heating elements inside ovens are. The reason why your oven can't go above 300C is because the thermostat won't let it.
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


The 300 Celsius you refer to are the air temperature inside the oven. The energy in your oven is quite sufficient to heat a piece of metal to much over 300 (in fact, judging from the color I have seen on my heating elements, they are probably in the 600-700 C range). But the air around them has quite bad thermal qualities, and doesn't heat up well. It also constantly loses heat to the oven walls and to the outside air. So, you cannot really get above 300, which is actually quite high for a domestic oven, most stop at 250.

Your Dutch oven has excellent thermal capacity and is in direct contact with a heat source. Even though it is not a great heat conductor (in comparison with other metals - it is still much better than air) it is not a problem to heat it to 400 Celsius with a 2 kW heating element. You can actually get higher - watch out for reaching the self-ignition point of cooking oils. This doesn't mean that the air above the pan, or the food in the pan, gets to these temperatures (neither does the food in your oven get to 300 inside).

  • If it were a better thermal conductor it might not get so hot, since heat would be more able to flow up the sides of the pot and be transferred to the surrounding air.
    – The Photon
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 18:37

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