Heat Diffuser for Cast Iron on Ceramic Cooktop? [General]

2010 Jan 2
Following on to the ceramic/enamelled discussion....

I've received a very nice Remy Olivier 7qt enameled, cast-iron dutch oven. I have read some rather untrustworthy sources that these should not be used on ceramic cooktops (oh, how I hate these) for fear that you could damage the cooker. No details on "how" they ruined their $2000 ranges, but there were many people jumping on the thread to state the same.

So... the only heat diffusers I have seen are cast iron (for ceramic tangines), which I suspect are for gas ranges. It seems silly to put a cast iron heat diffuser under a cast iron dutch oven. But maybe I am missing something.

Anyone have any experience in this area?

I've already used the beast in the oven and it has made some wonderful navy bean and ham soup... but I'd like to skip having to clean another pan just to caramelize the vegetables.

Thanks, HHH

2010 Jan 2
I would first say, you should reference the manual that came with your cooktop. Secondly I would say you are right, and heat diffusers for gas should probably not be used for glass cooktops, unless perhaps they are very smooth on the bottom. Cast iron is discouraged from glass (ceramic actually) cooktops for three reasons. Firstly is that it can scratch unless it has a smooth bottom (as with some, but not all enameled cast iron). Secondly it is heavy, and if you drop it from a couple inches could break your surface. The third reason has nothing to do with cast iron per se, but is more related to the size of your pot. If the pot is much larger than the element, the heat in the cast iron can cause the element to cycle on and off, giving bursts of heat followed by cool down periods. If you are simmering, this may not be a problem, but if you are trying to cook down some onions, this may be annoying. General consensus seems to be that enameled pans on glass are fine, if you are careful with the handling. Mea culpa - I have not cooked on glass myself...

2010 Jan 4
Thanks PiO. I went to a couple of kitchen stores around the west end and never really got a satisfactory answer. My cooktop instructions are no use either.

But common sense seems to be that this should work, so, I am just going to go for it.

2010 Jan 4
I use my cast iron (skillet, dutch oven) very carefully on my glass cooktop... has never scratched the surface or caused any problems (it's a Whirlpool convection oven with a glass/ceramic cooktop). From what I've experienced, glass cooktops usually heat more evenly and have fairly precise temperature controls (ie, low heat actually simmers without risk of scorching, mine actually has a 'melt' temperature for cheese and chocolate so as not to scorch), so I'm not sure why a heat diffuser would be required.

P-i-O - the heating elements do switch on and off in a cycle, which is normal, at least for my cooktop (and other ceramic cooktops I've worked with) this is normal!

2010 Jan 4
I have used a Cast Iron skillet on my ceramic cook top without any problems...

Make sure that the bottom is flat or has full lines from edge to edge! I remember reading about not using anything that had round circles for heat dispersion. It causes suction that can crack the glass... then again like pete said, there are other ways of destroying a stove top as well.


2010 Jan 4
Glass Cooktops... Pretty to look at, easier to clean than an open element... BUT they don't stand up to the test of time. They crack, chip, scratch and generally are a royal PITA to clean spilled and burned on food from. My next stovetop will be something else.

2010 Jan 5
I've been using enameled and non-enameled cast iron on our ceramic cooktop for a couple of years now without any problems.

My problem currently is that my Le Creuset dutch oven has a big chip out of the enamel on the inside bottom surface. (No idea how it happened.) I'm trying to figure out the easiest way to get it to TO for analysis and not relishing the idea of shipping it. Big $$ methinks. With luck, I'll end up with a full replacement at the end of the process.

2010 Jan 5
Ashton Green used to have a heat diffuser suitable for ceramic tops. I don't know any reason not to use one, as long as it's flat and fits the burner reasonably well. I also don't see any reason not to use enamel and porcelain cookware so long as it's flat-bottomed (makes full contact - check with a ruler or other straight edge) and properly sized (preferably same diameter as burner, or not more than an inch narrower or wider).
It's not often that I disagree with Food & Think but in this case I do - my KitchenAid ceramic range has definitely stood the test of time in my kitchen since June, 1996, and I would buy another ceramic stove. I might add that I don't find it that hard to clean, certainly not a royal PITA! =;0) A painter's razor scraper is the cat's meow for that job, even when the burner is hot, followed, when the burner has cooled, by some stovetop cleaner.

2010 Jan 5
I will second your comment re: ease of cleaning Andy - though, not all ceramic/glass cooktops are made equally. My parents old one was a PITA to clean, not really sure why that surface was so different than the one I'm currently using. The razor scraper is the key to a spotless surface!

I'm curious though why it would be necessary to use a heat diffuser? Do you find your cooktop has hotspots or doesn't have a low enough temperature setting? As I already stated, mine heats really evenly and the low temperature setting is VERY PRECISE... a major step up from my old electric coil cooktop (which was a f'ing NIGHTMARE TO CLEAN and had horrible hotspots).

2010 Jan 5
I have used enameled and non enambled cookware on my ceramic/glass cooktop. I find the non enambled pans leave more of a mess and are the pits to clean so I stick to enameled pots/pans. As for a heat diffuser, I've never had the need to use one. Do be careful with heavy cookware!

2010 Jan 6
now I'm thinking maybe I'll use more cast-iron on my ceramic cooktop, in hopes of it breaking, and me needing to replace it with a gas range! :)

So far no problems in 10 years - but I really want a gas stove!

2010 Jan 6
Andy & Chimichimi - "PITA to clean" of course is a relative term... cleaning the glass cooktop is a ton easier than cleaning an electric coil one... BUT, where I've been disappointed is that I "thought" that it would a cinch to clean up overall, wipe down after use and once in awhile just squirt on the cleaner, wipe up, and voila sparkling like new. Not the case. More often than I'd like, I have to resort to the razor blade. For me at least, is off-putting... I'm not that comfortable around razor blades at the best of times.

And besides that, I have to say I am disappointed with the fact that the top now is scratched in several places and has some grey spots (it is black top) not to mention the one chip (not exactly sure how that got there, noticed it after a house party).

That isn't to say I don't prefer this over my old stovetop, and if budget was an issue I'd recommend it to another, or even buy for myself in the future.

BUT... And, I never thought I'd say this... as I grew up when gas stoves were scary things... but I like Sourdough am hoping that my next stove is a honking big commercial styled gas one.

2010 Jan 6
I looked into getting a commercial gas range & oven for my kitchen when I moved - check your local building code to see what the safety requirements are!

2010 Jan 8
I have the Electrolux glass top. I have used my cast iron creuset and other types of cast iron on it. I am Extremely carefull when doing so: not moving the pan to avoid scratches, and heating it slowly. I start at med (5) then bring it to maybe 6 or 6.5. As soon as I am done cooking with it, I remove the pan from the stove top. Also, most of my pans are NOT plat, my creuset has rings on the bottom, still works, but maybe not as good as it would on a gas stove...

HHH: Where did you see a heat diffuser? I have been looking for one for 2 years. The idea behind it, is that it is completely flat, will distribute heat to your cast iron pan more efficiently and you can move your pan around on the diffuser, this avoids scratches....

I do not have a chip or stains on my stove, and trust me, we cook up a storm on that thing almost daily. My fiancÚ is not one to be carefull with things and I am amazed that it still looks great. So if you are shopping for a glass top, the Electrolux is a good one. BTW, we use the glass top Videlia pads to clean it, it is by far the best product we have found to remove nasty stains and cooked foods. We did scratch the glass in a tiny area the first week we had it with the cleaning blade! So I never used that again.

2010 Jan 8
Poutine - Thanks for the tip on Videlia pads, todate I've been using the Scotchbrite ones... they do a good job on general clean up, but are disappointing when it comes to nasty stains and cooked on messes.