A Stove is a Stove…Right?

The current wave of new technology has brought on a corresponding new era in stove top cooking. There are many different stove top cooking options that produce the same end result. In part 1 of this 2- part stove top series, we are going to look at some of the different types of stove tops, how they work, and the best practices to clean them.

Electric Coil:

Electric coil cooktops are the type many of us still envision when we think of a stove top. These have the red hot coils we always fear kids burning their hands on. For some reason these fiery red coils are very tempting for tots. The average electric coil cooktop will have 4 to 5 burners with a drip bowl underneath each one to grab the spills and crumbs from the food. Electric coil cooktops provide a nice, even heat and are compatible with many forms of cookware. Compared to other types of stove tops electric coil cooktops are relatively inexpensive.

How it Heats:


Electric coil cooktops work by converting electricity into heat. The burners are connected to the main part of the stove where the electricity is controlled by the burner dials. The burner dial controls how much electricity runs through the coils and thus how hot the stove top becomes. The higher the setting on the dial, the hotter the coils become.  [1]


Start your cleaning by removing the coils. If you have recently used your stove top, make sure the coils have completely cooled. Most burners simply unplug from the stove, but if your coils are giving you trouble coming off, refer to your manufacturer’s instructions to ensure best removal practices.

Next, use a clean cloth and a mild soap to lightly wash off the top. As most food is burnt off of the burners when in use, the burners themselves shouldn’t be too dirty. Never fully submerge coils in water and keep special care to keep the electrical portion away from water.  If there is hard-to-remove, stuck-on food, try using a scrub of baking soda and water mixed together and scrubbing at the problem area. If scrubbing is still not cutting it, try wrapping the problem area in a damp rag for a while and then try wiping or scrubbing.  Again, be sure to keep the electrical component clear of the damp cloth.

Next, clean the drip pans. Sometimes this will be as easy as dumping any leftover charred bits into the garbage, but it is a good idea to give drip pans a rinse with water and soap as well.

Electric Smooth top:

The electric smooth top stove has a solid ceramic glass cooking surface with typically 4 or 5 heating elements built underneath. This stovetop is particularly popular as the glass top makes cleaning up a mess a breeze. It is also very quick to heat up and quick to cool down. One of the disadvantages however is the lack of drip bowls.  If you are someone who tends to let things boil over on the stove, you won’t have any kind of “containment system” to prevent spills from going down the side and onto the floor.

How it Heats:

The glass stovetops only put out heat directly on the burner allowing surrounding areas of the stovetop stay cool to the touch. Glass stovetops use 1 of 3 heating methods:  radiant ribbon, quartz halogen, or magnetic induction. The radiant ribbon resembles the heating techniques provided by the electric coil tops. It can be used on its own or combined to heat using the quartz halogen or the magnetic induction method.  Quartz halogen is the quickest way to heat up food and the quickest to cool down. Magnetic Induction is highly energy efficient as it uses high frequency technology to heat up the cookware and not necessarily the glass top. [2]


While some spills are very easy to clean off of a glass top stove, some can be hard and take some elbow grease. Always wait till the stove top is completely cooled before proceeding to clean. Once the top is cooled down, start by using a rag and water to remove any surface grim. There are specialty glass top cleaners you can purchase to help clean your stove. Simply spread some the cleaner on the top and either use a specialty glass top sponge or a cloth to wipe down the top. With particular messes some scrubbing may be required. If you don’t have the made-for-glass-top cleaner some household products might work just as well.  You could try using baking soda or lemon juice as cleaners. The baking soda can be spread directly over the stovetop and then wiped down with a cloth. With the lemon juice, add some into a spray bottle with warm water and spray onto the surface and wipe with a cloth. With all methods wipe down with a clean cloth afterwards to ensure no cleaning products are left on the stovetop.

A controversial method of cleaning the glass stove tops is to use a razor or sharp object to scrape the dried food off.  Many people claim the razor is a life saver in cleaning off those hard-to-remove stains, while others claim it’s an unnecessary risk to your appliance. Just like there is a specialty cleaner for glass top stoves, there are also specialty razors made by appliance manufactures. The trick to using these blades is to keep them in an upright position and move in an up and down motion. Never use the corners as this could scratch and damage the surface.

It is always in your best interest to check with your manufacturer about recommended cleaning procedures and products.

What type of stove do you prefer to use and why? In part 2 of this series, “A Stove is a Stove… Right?”, we will look at gas, induction, and modular stove tops.

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