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What Is a Ceramic Cooktop?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 16, 2024
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A ceramic cooktop is used on an electric kitchen stove in place of electric burner coils. Commonly referred to as a glass top stove, the ceramic cooktop gives the illusion of being void of heating elements and burner assemblies. Powered by infrared or electro-magnetic heating elements mounted underneath the ceramic top, the cooking surface will typically glow as it heats up. To protect against burns from heating surfaces that do not appear to be hot, each heating surface is complete with an indicator light to warn that there is a hot surface. Most manufacturers of the ceramic cooktop recommend special cleaning products be used to clean the cooktop to avoid scratching or damaging it.

Most ceramic cooktop designs use replaceable heating elements on the cooking surface. Primarily resembling standard infrared light bulbs mounted under the glass-like surface, the units use radiant heating as the method of heating the pan. The common cooking unit uses a rheostat instead of a multi-position switch to change the temperatures from low to high. In most cases, the cooking surface will switch on and off in order to maintain a controlled temperature and cooking heat. The ceramic top does not conduct heat very well, so the areas around the cooking surfaces will remain relatively cool.

In order to get the maximum service and satisfaction from a ceramic cooktop, it is recommended that only pots and pans with completely flat bottoms be used on the appliance. Using a pan with a curved or convex bottom will result is slow and uneven cooking times. Pans should never be slid across the ceramic cooktop since it could be scratched by this. It is also possible to break a ceramic cooktop by dropping a heavy object on it. Therefore, it is recommended that canned goods and other heavy objects not be stored in cabinets or on shelves directly over the cooktop.

If you are unsure of how to choose cookware for glass-top stoves, you can start by searching online. Most home goods stores sort and label their cookware products based on which kind of stoves or ovens they work best for. You can also look at reviews and articles that discuss cookware for glass-top stoves. Many cooking experts offer thorough analyses of popular cookware brands and topics. However, at the end of the day, any pot or pan with a smooth, flat bottom should be okay on a ceramic stove. 

There are many specialized cleaners that are recommended for the ceramic cooktop to aid in cleaning off the minor spots and spills that accompany cooking. It is not wise, however, to allow hot and melted sugary foods to remain on the ceramic cooktop. These dried-on foods can be very difficult to remove without scratching the glass-like cooking surface of the appliance. For these types of spills, it is recommended that the mess be wiped up immediately with a damp cloth before it has a chance to dry and become difficult to remove.

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