Induction cooktops are marketed as offering the best of both worlds – the precision and even-cooking of gas ranges with the easy cleanup and maintenance of electric.
But most people don’t know how this technology works.
They definitely don’t know induction technology uses electric currents to directly heat pots and pans through magnetic induction. This process produces high levels of EMF radiation when used.
So, do induction cooktops emit radiation? Yes, induction cooktops do emit EMF radiation when used and exposure to this radiation can be dangerous.
Induction cooktops emit a significant amount of EMF radiation and you are at the greatest risk when near the cooktop, however, distance and other tips can significantly reduce your risk.
This article will educate you on what induction cooktops are, how they work, the radiation dangers, and ways to mitigate those dangers if you would like to use this technology.
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What is an Induction Cooktop?
An induction cooktop is a technology that uses electric currents to directly heat pots and pans through magnetic induction.
Instead of using thermal conduction (a gas or electric element transferring heat from a burner to a pot or pan), induction heats the cooking vessel itself almost instantly. (1)
Although this technology has been around since the early 1900s modern implementation only hit America in the 1970s. By 2013 there were over five dozen brands of induction-cooking equipment available in the US.
Professional chefs love induction cooktops. They cite cooking power, control and flexibility with easy cleanup. (2)
Because induction creates instant heat within the metal of pots and pans, it allows you to control heat more precisely and better temperature control reduces the risk of over or under cooking. On top of that, it’s surface is easy to clean – it’s easy to see why induction cooktops are popular with home and professional chefs.
How does an Induction Cooktop Work?
An induction cooktop works by using induction heating (makes sense).
Induction heating is the process of heating electrically conductive materials like the metals in pots and pans (more on this in a bit) by electromagnetic induction through heat transfer passing through an induction coil that creates an electromagnetic field. (3)
In an induction oven, the coil an induction coil inside the cooktop that heats the iron base of cookware by magnetic induction.
In this way, magnetism and electricity go together, known as electromagnetism.
Electromagnetism is a branch of physics and the electromagnetic force governs all chemical processes and is widely used in modern technology. (4)
A Danish physicist, Hans Christian Oersted, discovered the connection between electricity and magnetism in 1820. After publishing his discovery, more work in the space developed the field:
Others began investigating the newly found connection between electricity and magnetism. French physicist André Ampère developed a mathematical law to describe the magnetic forces between current carrying wires. Starting about a decade after Oersted’s discovery, Michael Faraday demonstrated essentially the opposite of what Oersted had found–that a changing magnetic field induces an electric current. Following Faraday’s work, James Clerk Maxwell developed Maxwell’s equations, formally unifying electricity and magnetism.
Of course, these were just the beginnings of electromagnetism. But they are the underpinnings modern technology, including how induction cooktops work.
Do Induction Cooktops Generate and Emit EMF Radiation?
Yes, in the process of heating electrically conductive materials by electromagnetic induction through heat transfer passing through a coil – an electromagnetic field (EMF) is produced.
The material placed on the cooktop (most stainless steel, cast iron and enameled cast iron pots and pans) closes the electromagnetic circuit, creating EMF radiation.
The pots and pans must contain ferromagnetic materials (iron) or has a layer with magnetic properties.
Always check the box or instructions to verify induction compatibility if you have an induction stove.
Are Induction Cooktops Safe?
We know induction heating works via an electromagnetic field which produced EMF radiation. We need to know how much EMF is emitted before determining safety. Also, it makes sense to compare induction to fas and electric stove tops since induction is a substitute for one of the more traditional options. We need to check the units of radiation emitted while in use in the guidebook for that.
Let’s see what the research says.
In a 2012 study (6), researchers set out to find out whether induction cooktops comply with the basic restrictions defined by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). Bingo!
What I particularly liked about this study is they tests different models and distances along with adults, kids and even fetuses.
They found the following:
While most measured cooktops comply with the public exposure limits at the distance specified by the International Electrotechnical Commission (standard IEC 62233), the majority exceeds them at closer distances, some of them even the occupational limits. The maximum current density in the tissue of the user significantly exceeds the basic restrictions for the general public, reaching the occupational level. The exposure of the brains of young children reaches the order of magnitude of the limits for the general public. For a generic worst-case cooktop compliant with the measurement standards, the current density exceeds the 1998 ICNIRP basic restrictions by up to 24 dB or a factor of 16. The brain tissue of young children can be overexposed by 6 dB or a factor of 2. The exposure of the tissue of the central nervous system of the fetus can exceed the limits for the general public if the mother is exposed at occupational levels. This demonstrates that the methodology for testing induction cooktops according to IEC 62233 contradicts the basic restrictions.
(6) – emphasis is mine.
Importantly, they found that at 300 mm from the cooktop, the field limits for public exposure are compliant.
In case you’re not up on your mm to inches conversion that’s approximately 11.8 inches.
With this knowledge in hand we can answer if induction cooktops are safe. They are safe as long as you’re about 12 inches away from the cooktop.
As with most EMF radiation, it’s attenuates with distance.
Of course, maintaining 12 inches of distance from the cooktop is difficult when you’re, you know, cooking. The best bet is to not have one at all. If that’s unavoidable, keep as much distance as possible. If you’re pregnant I would completely avoid induction cooktops. And importantly, keep your kids away from the induction stovetop all together.
I would test with an EMF meter and provide you with the results but I don’t have an induction cooktop. In that absence, here’s a video of someone testing their induction cooktop:
I like this video because they showed the amount of radiation from the source all the way to the 12 inches mentioned in the study. You can see the drop off.
EMF Radiation Health Effects
So we’ve established induction cooktops emit a significant amount of EMF radiation, particularly within 12 inches of the source. But what are the health effects of this?
EMF radiation is well documented as having a number of negative health effects and a wide range of accompanying symptoms as a result.
Let’s look at some of the research starting with what you may experience in your body closest to the source – your hands and arms. Next we’ll talk about EMF radiation health effects more broadly.
Magnetic and electric fields (EMF) can induce electrical currents in the body which can acutely stimulate the nerves and muscles (7). If you’re cooking over an induction stove, your hand and arms can experience this nerve damage.
Further, EMF effects on the central nervous system have been well documented.
The Physicians for Safe Technology (8) is an organization that looks at this research and provides information to the public. I like their site because I know medical doctors and scientists have reviewed the peer-reviewed journal articles and provide context and recommendations. And they post the newest articles.
I’ve written many articles on EMF effects of different technologies and always refer to the Physicians for Safe Technology when doing my research. Some include:
Here’s a study from 2021 they have reviewed on the effects of EMF on neurotransmitters in the brain (9).
This is a great article because it brings together a bunch of research on different topics to find the consensus. Let’s go through the literature on the different documented effects of electromagnetic radiation (EMR).
Effects of EMR on Norepinephrine and Epinephrine
This further suggests that low-intensity EMR exposure can cause an increase in norepinephrine content in the brain, which might in theory affect epinephrine content, leading to neurotransmitter production disorders.
…these results suggest that long-term exposure to EMR may lead to abnormal norepinephrine and epinephrine contents in the brain, depending on the dose of radiation.
Effects of EMR on “Serotonin”
The results showed that the content of 5-HT in the hippocampus and cerebrospinal fluid of rats in each radiation group increased significantly from 28 days to 2 months after exposure, and these changes were related to the decrease in learning and memory ability…
Effects of EMR on Amino Acid Neurotransmitters
The results showed EMR induced significant decreases in glutamate and glutamine levels in hippocampal after 1 month. These data suggest that EMR can lead to a decrease in excitatory amino acid neurotransmitters in the hippocampus, which may affect the excitatory-inhibitory balance of neurons, thus causing a decline in learning and memory ability.
Cell Membrane Damage
It is known that membrane is the first and an important target of EMF in cells. Cell membrane damage might result in neurotransmitter changes in the brain. Understanding the effects of EMR on neurotransmitters is critical for further determining the targets of EMR in cells.
It should be noted that the author of this study mentioned a need for further clarity and additional information before making recommendations.
But this is just one article.
The World Health Organization – IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) published a famous study trying to understand the carcinogenic effects of electric and magnetic fields. This study classified them as possibly carcinogenic to humans. (10)
I could go on and on but I hope this at least gives you a starting point and makes the point that electromagnetic radiation in high doses (like induction stovetops at close range) and consistent exposure (like cooking everyday) has a major negative impact on health.
I write these articles to educate people not only on the dangers but also so they know how to reduce exposure to sources of EMF radiation when it’s called for.
Induction cooktops may be powerful, cook even and clean up easy but you should know about the potential health effects too so you can make an educated decision on whether to use them and if so, how to mitigate the risks.
Let’s discuss some ways you can reduce your exposure to EMF radiation from induction cooktops now.
How to Protect Yourself While Using an Induction Cooktop
Already own an induction cooktop? Now that you know about how they work and the health risks of using them, let’s discuss some ways you can mitigate these effects and protect yourself when using these stoves.
1. Don’t use them at all
This is obviously not an option for many people who already have an induction cooktop installed. But if you’re deciding between induction or the typical gas or electric and you’re concerned about radiation, I would go with gas or electric.
2. Use a large pot or pan
If you’re using induction, grab a pot or pan that is larger than the cooking zone. This helps provide some important distance between you and the source of the electromagnetic radiation.
Also, this may help to contain the electromagnetic field from escaping the cooking zone. I would test this with a high quality EMF meter like the TriField TF2 that you can pick up on Amazon.
If you already have larger pans and pots, try it out with the meter and see if this method reduces the radiation levels. If so, this is a great solution!
3. Make sure you’re using the right pots and pans
As I mentioned earlier, induction compatible pots and pans must contain ferromagnetic materials (iron) or has a layer with magnetic properties.
These are designed to absorb the electromagnetic fields created by the induction cooktop and reduce the amount of EMF escaping the cooktop area.
4. Use the rear burners
If your cooktop has multiple burners, use those furthest from your body. This is particularly important if you’re pregnant or have kids running around the kitchen (like I do).
We know from the study above that 12 inches is about the distance where EMF radiation drops to the point of public exposure are compliance. The rear burner may be able to provide this distance for you.
5. Don’t use metal cooking utensils
Metals are conductive and can carry the electromagnetic field. Instead opt for wood or silicone or utensils with a silicone handle cover.
Hopefully these tips help reduce your exposure if you already have an induction cooktop or stove and have to use it.
Best Low EMF Induction Cooktop
If after reading this article you still want an induction cooktop but just wanted to reduce the amount EMF radiation exposure, I understand.
Now that you have the tips above but still want the easy of use, power and even cooking advantages offered by induction cooktops or if you have limited space and these small surfaces fit the bill, let’s talk about a low EMF induction stove option.
After I researched and reviewed the options, I have a recommendation for you.
Amazon carries the Duxtop Induction Cooktop. This glass top burner is the best option.
You should know, however, that it will emit some EMF radiation.
However, it’s a good option if you want an induction cooktop regardless for the following reasons:
It’s a small, single burner that is easily moved around. You want to have at least 12 inches between your body and the surface move it back to achieve this distance (or as much as possible for safety considering your kitchen situation). Then when not in use, unplug it! Unlike built in options, when you unplug it, the radiation exposure it completely mitigated.
So if you have to choose an induction cooktop, this is a good option. Don’t forget the tips above like ensuring you’re using the appropriate pots and pans and using non-metal utensils!
(1) What is Induction Cooking? – Frigidaire
(2) CleanTechnia – Professional Chef On Her Love Of Cooking With Induction
(3) Induction Heating – Wikipedia
(4) Electromagnetism – Wikipedia
(5) APS News July 2008 (Volume 17, Number 7) This Month in Physics History July 1820: Oersted & Electromagnetism– American Physical Society
(6) Christ A, Guldimann R, Bühlmann B, Zefferer M, Bakker JF, van Rhoon GC, Kuster N. Exposure of the human body to professional and domestic induction cooktops compared to the basic restrictions. Bioelectromagnetics. 2012 Dec;33(8):695-705.
(7) Induction Stoves and EMF Testing – California Energy Commission, 2022 Energy Code Pre-Rulemaking, TN# 234914, submitted 9/25/2020
(8) Physicians for Safe Technology. Their advisory board is made up of M.D.s and Ph.D.s and they state their mission as “We are a group of physicians and health professionals whose mission is to provide trusted leadership in promoting, healthy and safe environments through the safer use of technology at home, in schools, in the workplace, in healthcare settings and in communities.”
(9) Effects of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Radiation on Neurotransmitters in the Brain. Hu Cuicui, Zuo Hongyan, Li Yang. Frontiers in Public Health. 2021
(10) World Health Organization – IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer). Non-ionizing Radiation, Part 1: Static and Extremely Low-frequency (ELF) Electric and Magnetic Fields.