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Gas Stoves Have Ignited A Firestorm «

Should You Break Up With Your Gas Stove?

This week, a commissioner at the US Consumer Product Safety Commission called gas stoves a “hidden hazard” and said the agency is looking into ways to regulate them. The commissioner said, quote. “Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned.”

That word, banned, made big news. 

CLIP (Man 1): This morning the headlines teasing a potential federal ban on gas stoves due to health concerns triggering a backlash.

CLIP (Man 2): It’s another example of government reaching into every facet of our lives. Now they’re coming for our stoves.

CLIP (Man 3): When we say don’t tread on Florida, or let us alone, we mean that, including on your gas stoves!

Republican members of Congress sounded off on twitter. Representative Jim Jordan tweeted “God. Guns. Gas stoves.” Representative Ronny Jackson tweeted “I’ll NEVER give up my gas stove. If the maniacs in the White House come for my stove, they can pry it from my cold dead hands.” Which, like, if you can hold your gas stove in your hands are you sure it’s not a TOY stove? Anyway…

The White House had to get involved, stating that President Biden does not support banning gas stoves, and that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is not banning gas stoves.

As it happens, we did an episode on the issue of gas stoves in 2021. We took a look at how gas became the standard in so much of the country, as well as how these stoves affect the environment and your health. We also dug into the battles over regulating natural gas today, and  I also tested an alternative that’s getting more popular  — induction. 

We thought given all the recent news, this was a good time to replay that episode for you now. Enjoy.

Rebecca Leber: I think this was the first Instagram post I saw. When I saw this, I just knew I had to report this story. This was incredible.

Dan Pashman: This is Rebecca Leber. She’s a reporter at Vox, who covers climate change. About a year ago, she got a tip. Someone told her to look into these Instagram influencers. At first glance, their posts seemed pretty ordinary.

Rebecca Leber: There’s a woman cooking in her kitchen, posing almost artfully with her spatula, looking off camera over her shoulder, dressed pretty fashionably head to toe, a cold shoulder top, dyed hair, bandana tied in a high ponytail.

Dan Pashman: These are sponsored posts, which means the influencers are being paid to make them. Again, not so unusual. But here’s the twist: These people aren’t being paid by a home design company or a kitchenware brand. The posts come with captions like… 

Rebecca Leber: Did you know natural gas provides better cooking results. Pretty nifty, huh? #sponsored #cookingwithgas #homecooking and then she tags American Gas Association.

Dan Pashman: The American Gas Association is a trade group that represents 200 gas companies around the country. Rebecca says over the past few years, the AGA and other big industry groups, have been on a media blitz. She found presentations from PR firms, showing that their campaigns are specifically targeted at millennials. There are these sponsored posts on Instagram, slick websites, and even a YouTube Channel with cooking demos, like how to heat up a tortilla.

[CLIP FROM YOUTUBE COOKING DEMO]

CLIP (AGA COOK): You’re going to start with the natural gas flame. Turn it on. Now, because the flames actually come up, you are able to heat and cook your tortilla…

Dan Pashman: So, what’s going on here? Why do natural gas companies care so much about how you heat your tortilla?

Rebecca Leber: So this isn’t about some dumb ad campaign or Instagram influencers. The gas stove campaigns actually fit into this much broader fight we’re having over climate change.

MUSIC

Dan Pashman: This is The Sporkful, it’s not for foodies it’s for eaters, I’m Dan Pashman. Each week on our show we obsess about food to learn more about people. And this week, I have Sporkful producer Andres O’Hara with me. He’s been looking at how the gas stove became part of this larger story about climate change. He’s here to tell us all about it. Hey, Andres! 

Andres O’Hara: Hey Dan!

Dan Pashman: Now, later on in the show we’ll be experimenting with a competitor to the gas stove that’s not well known here in the U.S. But let’s begin at the beginning. Why do gas companies care so much about getting millennials to love their gas stoves? 

Andres O’Hara: So Dan, this is actually the latest battle in a long war between gas and electric companies. They’ve been competing for over a century to power up your whole home: your heat, your hot water, and other major appliances. And to do that, they’ve targeted the kitchen.  

Andres O’Hara: In the 1950s, GE and Westinghouse supported by the electric utilities across the country, they created a multi-million dollar ad campaign that was in part about the wonders of the electric stove, and It featured a certain charismatic actor and future president.

[CLIP OF GE CAMPAIGN]

CLIP (RONALD REAGAN): Oh, that’s hot. 

CLIP (PERSON): Oh, it’s not. 

CLIP (RONALD REAGAN): Oh, but delicious. 

Dan Pashman: It’s Ronald Reagan! 

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, it is. 

CLIP (WOMAN): The egg souffle. 

CLIP (RONALD REAGAN): That’s something we haven’t had in quite awhile. 

CLIP (WOMAN): Well, it’s pretty tricky to make but now with a steady heat and the exact timing of my new automatic skillet, well even a souffle is easy and safe to make. 

CLIP (RONALD REAGAN): Well, that part of living better electrically.

Andres O’Hara: But gas companies recruited their own stars. 

Dan Pashman: Oh.

Andres O’Hara: You know the phrase, “Now you’re cooking with gas?”

Dan Pashman: Yes.

Andres O’Hara: The gas company, they didn’t invent it but they were pushing it hard. They recruited comedians like, Jack Benny and Bob Hope. These were big radio stars in the 1940s. And they got them to use this phrase “Now, you’re cooking with gas.” in their ads.

Dan Pashman: So — cause I say that all the time, like in regular conversation which probably makes me sound like an old, but so are you telling me that I’ve been repeating a marketing slogan all these years?

Andres O’Hara: I hate to say it, but yes, you are. 

[LAUGHING]

Dan Pashman: OK.

Andres O’Hara: The gas companies turned to TV and they wanted to target housewives, just like the electric companies. This one from the 50s was sponsored by the American Gas Association

[CLIP FROM AMERICAN GAS ASSOCIATION] 

CLIP (SPEAKER 1): I just love the convenience and modern styling of this built-in gas range. 

CLIP (SPEAKER 2): Hey, aren’t you gonna light the oven? 

CLIP (SPEAKER 1): I don’t have to, it’s completely automatic. You’ll never guess what this sauce is for the baked ham. Equal parts of grape jelly and light mustard, blended, and simmered. And this burner does it without scorching. 

Dan Pashman: Grape jelly and mustard…. uh, I am concerned yet intrigued.

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, Dan. Honestly, that kind of sounds disgusting.

Dan Pashman: Well, at least we know, Andres, we’ll need a gas stove if you don’t want to scorch it. 

Andres O’Hara: No, no. You’ll definitely need a gas stove for a sauce as delicate and refined as that. 

Dan Pashman: Right. 

Andres O’Hara: But, of course, these ads needed to change with the times.

Dan Pashman: Yeah. 

Andres O’Hara: In the 1980s, they made music videos. Music videos were all the rage then. Specifically there’s this one ad I want to show you. It’s these young kids and they’re rapping while wearing their chef’s hat. Here Dan, let me show you the video.

[CLIP NATIONAL FUEL GAS “COOKIN’ WITH GAS”]

CLIP (KIDS):

Cooking with gas. Cooking with gas. 

We all cook better when we’re cooking with gas.

Gas is so hot, it’s not on when it’s off. 

It’s the only way to cook. That’s what I was taught. 

Now, here’s a fact you should have…

Dan Pashman: Wow. I love that they’re in this weird, white matrix-like space and there’s just a gas stove floating in the middle of the room. 

Andres O’Hara: That’s right. 

Dan Pashman: Where they’re in this other world where the gas stove is all that matters.

Andres O’Hara: It’s very David Lynch.

Dan Pashman: All right, Andres, so here we are today after 70 plus years of ad battle between gas and electric. Who’s winning?

Andres O’Hara: The majority of the country actually cooks on electric burners. 

Dan Pashman: Really?

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, they do but gas rules the cities.

Dan Pashman: OK. 

Andres O’Hara: So in places like, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago — it’s over 70 percent gas stoves. Even though gas stoves aren’t winning in terms of numbers, I think feel like they’ve won the culture. You know, people obsessed with cooking the way that chefs cook. They want the best knives. They want the best pans. 

Dan Pashman: Right.

Andres O’Hara: They want the best everything. And they want to be cooking on gas. Dan, like, when was the last time you saw an electric stove on Top Chef or Chopped

Dan Pashman: Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chef on TV using an electric stove. And I’ve always had gas stoves. I’m partial to gas stoves. I like being able to see the flame so I know exactly how high it is and adjusting it. I just think that cooking is so much about feel and I have adapted my ways to the gas stove. I’m comfortable with it. I have positive associations with it. I like the clicking sound when you turn it on. I like gas.

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, Dan. I completely agreed. I grew up in Florida where everyone had an electric stove. And for me, it was one of those metal coils electric stoves.

Dan Pashman: Right. 

Andres O’Hara: And it was not responsive at all.

Dan Pashman: Like at my grandmother’s house.

Andres O’Hara: Uh-huh. That’s right. And you turn it up to 9 and it’s hot. You turn it down to 3, it’s still hot. It’s just not a great way to cook. And when I started using gas stoves, truly, I fell in love with cooking, thanks to my gas stove. 

Dan Pashman: Wow. That’s quite a bond you and the gas stove have, Andres. 

Andres O’Hara: I, actually, do love my gas stove. 

[LAUGHING] 

Dan Pashman: OK. 

Andres O’Hara: The thing is that the gas industry, it know that people like you and me, we love our gas stoves. Here again, is reporter Rebecca Leber, who we heard at the start of the show. 

Rebecca Leber: The industry is fighting for its life to ensure that homes continue to rely on gas and new homes continue to have those gas lines. And it sees the gas stove as its best option for ensuring that future.

MUSIC

Dan Pashman: What does she mean the gas stove is the industry’s best option for the future?

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, so the gas companies think that they’re under threat. Cities throughout California, New York City, and even Washington State, they’re all looking to either limit or just completely ban the use of natural gas in new buildings. And even though right now, some electricity is still pretty dirty. It comes with its own environmental issues. As we build more and more solar panels and wind turbines and things like that, the electric grid, it’s gonna be supplied by renewable energy and not fossil fuels.

Dan Pashman: Got it. So buildings that are built electric, can be converted to be better in the future, but a building that runs on gas is probably always gonna have run on gas.

Andres O’Hara: Right, exactly. And that’s what this legislation is all about. And under these new proposals, the gas companies, they’re are seeing themselves cut out of the future. Unless they can convince cities, and the voters in the those cities to keep natural gas lines for new buildings.

Dan Pashman: Got it. And that’s why they’re doing this campaign on Instagram?

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, exactly. Here’s Rebecca, again.

Rebecca Leber: The industry has identified millennials and millennial women as a really key voting demographic that’s just growing. Instagram is a really smart way to reach them, especially when they can reach them through someone like an influencer, that you connect with online and you might trust their opinion.

Andres O’Hara: Dan, I should mention that I reached out to the American Gas Association, and they said, in a statement, “#CookingWithGas is not part of a lobbying effort and the American Gas Association does not lobby at the state and local level.”, and that’s true. They’re not saying: vote for this candidate or vote against this proposal. They’re saying, fall in love with your gas stove. Because nobody cares if their heat or hot water is gas or electric. 

Dan Pashman: Right. One of the things I learned when I became a homeowner, Andres, is that your heat and hot water, also, are gas or electric. It’s not just about your stove. But the truth is like, I didn’t really care. I didn’t even ask this question when we bought the house. I didn’t find out until later that it’s all gas. But I cared very much about having a gas stove. And so you’re telling me, this is what the gas companies have realized. This is why they are focusing their PR campaigns on stoves, it’s because people like you and me care much more about gas stoves than gas anything else. 

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. Yeah, you got it. 

Dan Pashman: Got it. But wait. How about a compromise, Andres? Can we all get along? Look, Switch over all the heat and the hot water, everything but the stoves to electric. That would drastically reduce gas use without cramping my style in the kitchen. 

Andres O’Hara: I hear you Dan, but there’s a bigger problem than that. And it’s that to get you that natural gas into your home and into your stove. It requires a network of pipes. Pipes that run from inside your home underground, throughout your community and all across the country. And those pipes, they’re a major source of methane pollution. In fact, over the past few year, scientists have learned that methane leaks are actually much worse than previously known. And it means that our natural gas system does more damage to the environment than we previously thought.

Dan Pashman: Gotcha.

Andres O’Hara: And then, Dan, there’s actually this other issue. Decades of research about indoor air quality has shown that using a gas stove could be bad for our health. Brady Seals is a manager at the Rocky Mountain Institute, a non-profit that advocates for clean energy. She reviewed more than a hundred studies about air pollution, gas stoves, and public health, including one in the International Journal of Epidemiology. 

Brady Seals: And what they found is that children, who live in a home with a gas stove, have an increased risk of 42 percent of experiencing asthma symptoms than kids who live in a home with an electric stove. 

Dan Pashman: Hold on, Andres. This makes me skeptical. I feel like this could be correlation not causation. I mean, we heard that people with gas stoves tend to live in cities. There’s also a lot more air pollution in cities where there are buses and traffic. Maybe that’s why those kids are more likely to have asthma. Maybe people with gas stoves tend to have higher income and access to better medical care so their kids get diagnosed with asthma more. Maybe they’re lower income so they also live in area near bus depots so they have asthma more. I mean, there are a million other factors that could be contributing to this difference.

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, Dan, I understand what you’re saying but according to Brady, you need to look at it in terms of risk. Burning natural gas in your home, which is what you’re doing every time you turn on the stove, it increases the level of several pollutants, like Nitrogen Dioxide. That’s NO2. People who are exposed to high levels of NO2, they have an increased risk of respiratory illness. It can trigger asthma attacks or make it more likely for children to develop asthma. 

Dan Pashman: Okay, so high levels of nitrogen dioxide, bad. But when you use the average gas stove in the average way, are you actually exposing yourself to high levels of nitrogen dioxide?

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, you are. According to the EPA, one of the primary sources of indoor NO2 indoors is gas stoves. And breathing high concentrations of NO2 can aggravate, it can aggravate respiratory diseases. It can contribute to the development of asthma long term. Studies on gas stoves, like at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, they’ve shown that gas stoves can raise the concentrations of NO2 to levels that would be illegal outdoors. But the thing is, the EPA only regulates outdoor air pollution. They don’t set indoor air quality standards. They’ve never set a standard for how much NO2 is too much indoors. 

Andres O’Hara: And that’s a point that the American Gas Association likes to makes. Public health agencies, like the EPA, they don’t set regulations on the gas stoves. The American Gas Association says, that any pollutants that come from cooking are just part of the cooking process, itself. It’s not solely from the stove. But there is one thing that people on both sides of the debate can agree on.

Dan Pashman: What’s that?

Andres O’Hara: Venting. Dan do you use your exhaust fan when you cook?

Dan Pashman: Once in a while, yes. Probably not as much as I should. 

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, Brady Seals says that she hears this response all the time. 

Brady Seals: You know, bathrooms are required to be exhausted outdoors in almost every state, but gas stove hoods or any stove hood is not. We know from studies that maybe 20 percent or less people use a range hood. And the number one reason is people don’t think they need it. 

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, Dan, that’s why I don’t use my range hood. It’s loud. It’s annoying and I’m kind of convinced it doesn’t do anything. I looked at it and I was right. My exhaust fan doesn’t vent to the outside world, it just recirculates air. So these hoods only really work if they vent all the fumes and the smoke to the outside. 

Dan Pashman: So to be clear, if your vent sends fumes out of your home and you actually use it, then it can help. 

Andres O’Hara: Yeah. It has been shown to lower the levels of those pollutants inside your home.

MUSIC

Dan Pashman: All right, Andres, so what are my options? Cause I don’t want an electric stove and I need some way to cook my food. Now, this better not be some long game you’re playing to get me on a raw diet. All right?

Andres O’Hara: All right, Dan, if you don’t want to buy my raw diet cookbook, then that’s okay. And if you want to be a stalwart and cook your food…

Dan Pashman: Yes, I insist. Yeah, so what’s my alternative here?

Andres O’Hara: The alternative, it’s this technology that some product reviewers rank as better, and safer than cooking with gas. 

Dan Pashman: Okay. 

Andres O’Hara: Right now pretty rare in the U.S., but it is widespread across Europe and Asia.

Dan Pashman: All right.

Andres O’Hara: Instead of cooking with gas, Dan, you’re cooking with magnets. And when we come back, I’m gonna tell you all about that and we’re gonna test it out.

Dan Pashman: All right. I’m ready. Stick around.

MUSIC

 

+++ BREAK +++

 

MUSIC

Dan Pashman: Welcome back to The Sporkful, I’m Dan Pashman. And I want you to get ready because next week on the show, we have an all-new installment of Mission: ImPASTAble. That’s right, we’ve got updates on cascatelli and some very big news about other pasta shapes. That’s next week. All right, back to the show. I’m here again with Sporkful producer, Andres O’Hara.

Andres O’Hara: Hey, Dan.

Dan Pashman: So we’ve laid out the concerns with gas stoves, let’s talk alternatives. But listen Andres, I don’t want an electric stove. I need something that is responsive, so when I turn the heat up or down I get quick results. And I need a way to know precisely how hot it is, which I normally do by looking at the flame. So whaddaya got?

Andres O’Hara: Dan, it’s called induction and it’s widely used in Asia and across Europe, but it’s pretty rare here. Only about 5 percent of all cooking ranges sold in the U.S. are induction.

Dan Pashman: Okay, I’ve heard of induction. The surface, it’s like, just flat glass, like a high end electric stove. But it’s not an electric stove, right?

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, that’s exactly it. But that’s part of the reason why it hasn’t taken off. Too many people think it’s just like electric and they don’t see a difference. But the technology, it’s totally different.

Dan Pashman: Okay, how does it work?

Andres O’Hara: So underneath this glass surface, there’s an electromagnetic coil of cables. It’s usually copper. And when you turn it on there’s an electricity runs through the coils, and it creates a magnetic field right above it. So this magnetic field, it induces. You get it, Dan? It induces —  

Dan Pashman: That’s the induction part, got it.

Andres O’Hara: That’s the induction part, you’re getting it already. It induces this electrical current on the metal part of the pot and pan, and it causes the molecules in this pot or pan to agitate. And that’s actually what heats the pot or pan in contact with the coil. That’s why induction cooktops will only work with pots and pans with enough iron to generate a magnetic field. So most stainless steel and cast iron will work, but aluminum and copper won’t.

Dan Pashman: Okay, well I did recognize the word induction in what you just said. You lost me at the first use of the word electromagnetic. I’m just gonna assume it works with lasers. 

Andres O’Hara: Dan, I hate to tell you but there’s no lasers.

Dan Pashman: It would sell better if they made it with lasers.

Andres O’Hara: Dan, I can heat up your food with lasers if you want. The thing is, it’s completely different from any other type of cooking because with this one, there’s no external source of heat. The heat is coming directly from the pan.

Dan Pashman: All right. Look, I don’t think I’m ever gonna get it. It sounds like lasers to me. Let’s keep moving. Are these induction stoves any good? What do the product testing experts say?

Andres O’Hara: They actually really like it. Consumer Reports loved it. they say it’s the fastest cooking technology on the market. The gear review website, Reviewed.com, they did an extensive series on induction and found it not only heats food faster than gas, it can hold also lower temps better. 

Dan Pashman: Hmm. Okay.

Andres O’Hara: But the other thing is, it’s not all positive. Wirecutter, you know the New York Times product review website, they wouldn’t recommend induction stoves. They say, and I’m reading a quote here, “We have heard consistently, over many years, that these are not reliable products.” 

Dan Pashman: Well that hurts for the induction stuff, although I don’t care what Wirecutter has to say because they totally screwed me on the outdoor heater that I bought for wintertime COVID parties. 

Andres O’Hara: Okay, that Wirecutter review is dead to me. I want to see how this works in practice, what it’s really like to put it to the test. So a few weeks ago, I met with chef Francisco Anton. 

Andres O’Hara: How you doing? 

Francisco Anton: Good, good, good. Nice to meet you. 

Andres O’Hara: He owns a restaurant in Crown Heights, that’s my neighborhood in Brooklyn, and called La Ñapa. And I went there. They have burgers, tacos, but their most popular menu items are the arepas. 

Andres O’Hara: What’s the trick to making good arepa?

Francisco Anton: You have to knead it. Some people think that it’s just a matter of like mixing the water. You have to work the dough a little bit so you can get a nice consistency and then…

Andres O’Hara: He’s worked in restaurants with gas and electric and he always preferred gas. But when he went to open his own place, he went with an induction burner. One big reason is that it just saved him money. With gas, you need everything up to code before you can open and it can take months. When Francisco opened his first restaurant in New York using gas appliances, he was losing something like $20,000 a month in rent just waiting for his inspections so he could open. And by cutting out gas completely, once he is open, he never has to worry about issues with the gas line. 

Dan Pashman: That’s right, like a gas leak can shut a restaurant down for days.

Andres O’Hara: Exactly, and that’s a huge financial hit. And now that he’s using induction, he’s actually realized that there’s a lot of cooking benefits. 

Francisco Anton: I’ve worked in kitchens that get 110 degrees, so you have to, like, have your hands in buckets of ice because you get so hot. So if I’m cooking here, I’m not going to get hot.

Dan Pashman: Right, because a gas stove is really just heating the air, it’s just giving off heat in all directions, and some of that hits the pot and heats the stuff inside. But a lot of that heat just ends up floating away into your kitchen. Induction, you’re saying, it only heats the pot, not the air around it. So the kitchen doesn’t get as hot.

Andres O’Hara: Exactly. Plus, Francisco feels a lot safer in the kitchen, cooking on induction. He grabbed this pan off of an induction burner to demonstrate. 

Francisco Anton: Like this handle in this induction will never get hot. So you can grab it, no problem.  

Andres O’Hara: Compare that to grabbing a pan in a busy restaurant kitchen that’s been heating on a gas stove.

Francisco Anton: With that situation, you need to have a dry rag so you can grab it and not, you know, get a tattoo in your hand. 

Andres O’Hara: An induction stove can get a pan hotter much faster than you’re used to. But the heat, it’s only concentrated on the part of the pan that’s in contact with the induction stovetop. So that’s the bottom, not the handle.

Dan Pashman: But Andres, doesn’t the flame on a gas stove also serve a purpose? I mean, I can glance from across the kitchen and see where the flame is at. I can feel the heat coming off the burner and those are cues that help me to know what’s happening when I’m cooking. I rely on that.

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, Francisco says that is a challenge at first, but you do get used to it. You develop other cues. But he does need to train his cooks to be more gentle with it, after all, the surface is glass. 

Francisco Anton: And it’s relatively delicate, so you cannot just get and throw pans in it. Here, you have to like place it on the stove instead of how I used to, like throwing something in there.

MUSIC 

Dan Pashman: Okay, Andres, I’m intrigued. I’m not sold. I’m curious to try it out but I’m not in the market for a new stove. 

Andres O’Hara: Lucky for you, Dan, you actually have to get a new stove. There are now several single burner induction cooktops on the market, and they’re mostly under 100 bucks. You just plug them in and put them on your countertop. The reviews say they aren’t as powerful as a full induction stovetop, but they’re a good gateway to induction. 

[UNBOXING SOUNDS]

Andres O’Hara: I reached out to Aervoe, they make the induction cook top that Cooks Illustrated recommends, and they sent us one for review. So let’s give it a shot.

Dan Pashman: All right, Andres, here I am. I’m in the kitchen, I’ve got my microphone set up. I got my pots and pans and I’ve got this box you sent me. 

Andres O’Hara: Awesome, that’s great. So we’re going to do, you know, one of the best things on the Internet, which is an unboxing video. So you’re gonna…

Dan Pashman: So except without pictures. 

[LAUGHING] 

Andres O’Hara: That’s right. 

Dan Pashman: All right. 

Andres O’Hara: So Dan…

Dan Pashman: All right. Unboxing. 

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, tell me tell me what you got there.

Dan Pashman: I have a Max Burton digital induction cooktop. 

Andres O’Hara: Tell me what you think.

Dan Pashman: Um, there’s a red light that says on/off power. 

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. 

Dan Pashman: There’s a button there that just says boil. 

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. 

Dan Pashman: Which I’m very skeptical of. And then there’s a button that says, simmer. 

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. 

Dan Pashman: Which I’m also very skeptical of. When do you cross from a simmer to a boil? Does this machine know? If so, I will be sold.

Andres O’Hara: I mean, it sounds like you don’t know. So…

Dan Pashman: No, I don’t. I spent a lot of a lot of hours pacing my kitchen — 

Andres O’Hara: Right. 

Dan Pashman: Worrying frantically about whether whether the thing on the stove is simmering or boiling.

Andres O’Hara: I mean, this could solve all your problems or not. But that’s we’re going to find out. 

Dan Pashman: Okay. All right. Let’s do it. 

[KITCHEN SOUNDS] 

Andres O’Hara: So the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to test out those buttons that you’re so skeptical of, which is the boil and simmer buttons on the induction pan. We’re going to boil two cups of water and then we’re going to bring them down to a simmer.

Dan Pashman: All right. All right. Let me fill these up. 

Andres O’Hara: Okay, great. 

[KITCHEN SOUNDS]

MUSIC

Andres O’Hara: Okay, so you’re going to turn on the gas stove to the highest setting. You’re gonna hit the boil function on the induction burner. I am going to put on a timer. 

Dan Pashman: All right. 

Andres O’Hara: And, go. 

MUSIC 

[STOVE TOP SOUNDS]

Dan Pashman: Gas burner’s on. Induction burner. I hit boil. All right, the induction’s got little bubbles going, so does the pan. Oh, the bubbles are getting bigger on the induction. 

Andres O’Hara: 1 minute, 37.

Dan Pashman: I think the induction just pulled ahead. And there’s also a little bit of steam coming off the surface of the water on the induction. And the bubbles are getting bigger. And now they’re kind of bubbling along the bottom of the pan. 

Andres O’Hara: A minute, 48.

Dan Pashman: The gas is still kind of in like, vaguely — a little bit opaque, small bubbles gathering on the bottom of the pan. I would say we’re kind of at a simmer. It’s bubbling bigger. Oh, oh, now it’s on the surface. Now they’re coming up to the surface. The surface of the water is bubbling and I’m going to call it. It is boiling.

Andres O’Hara: 3:07 for the induction. Let’s see how long it takes the gas. Just keep the induction going.

Dan Pashman: All right. We’re almost at the point now. It’s bubbling more and more on the gas stove around the edges. 

Andres O’Hara: Yup. 

Dan Pashman: But I’m going to hold out for that center boil. Almost there. There’s a lot of big bubbles now. The bubble’s getting bigger and bigger. It’s really bubbling along the surface. We’re almost there. We’re almost there. I’m going to call it right now. The gas stove is boiling.

Andres O’Hara: 4:21

Dan Pashman:  So that’s a roughly 33 percent difference. So right now in this induction cooktop this water is at a rolling boil. I’m going to hit simmer now. 

Andres O’Hara: Hit simmer. Yep.

Dan Pashman: The induction switch to saying 100 degrees Fahrenheit. And I set the gas burner to medium low. 

Andres O’Hara: OK. 

Dan Pashman: Wow, the gas stove is still boiling.

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. 

Dan Pashman: It’s still at a boil. 

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. 

Dan Pashman: The induction burner, it came right down. It’s now not boiling at all.

Andres O’Hara: Like when you think of a simmer, does that look like a simmer to you?

Dan Pashman: To me, a simmer is some bubbles. 

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. 

Dan Pashman: So I don’t know. Look, maybe I don’t know what simmer means but their simmer is 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which I think is too low. I’m putting it at 175, which it characterizes that as med-low. Still no bubbles here and medium-low, 175. I’m going up to 200. Oh, now we got bubbles coming. They look cool.

Andres O’Hara: What’s happening with gas?

Dan Pashman: The gas, I’m struggling to get the gas at the right level to simmer. This is the story of my life, Andres. Always, like the flames a little too high. It’s a little too low. I can’t decide. Is it simmering? Is it boiling?

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. 

Dan Pashman: I would call it a tie. It’s very hard to get either of them to simmer without boiling. They’re equally maddening but maybe I’m the problem. I should say I just took the pan off the induction burner, and I’m holding my hand above it and it is warm. I wouldn’t smush my hand into it, but it’s definitely much less hot than the gas burner.

Andres O’Hara: All right, Dan. So we tried the boil test, that’s what everyone who cooks on induction says you got to do. You got see how fast water boils on induction. But now, I just want you to try cooking on it, like you cook anything else. So let’s try it frying an egg.

Dan Pashman: OK. 

[KITCHEN SOUNDS] 

Dan Pashman: All right, preheating the pans. I’m going to go 200 on the induction, I don’t know if that’s right. It’s heating. The oil looks hot. I’m cracking an egg into the pan

[COOKING SOUNDS]

Dan Pashman: That’s a pretty good sizzling and sputtering. I’m adding a little salt. It’s OK to add salt?

Andres O’Hara: It’s okay to add salt. 

Dan Pashman: I want this to taste good. All right, I’m gonna take that off the heat. I think that’s done. Now listen to this crisp as I cut through. 

[CRISPY SOUNDS]

Dan Pashman: Listen to these crispy edges. 

Andres O’Hara: Yeah. 

[MORE CRISPY SOUNDS]

Dan Pashman: I got a lot of crisp. I mean, there’s no question. 

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, very crispy. It looks like some really nice crispy eggs. 

Dan Pashman: And we already established the induction heats up faster. What else I got from that test is just, again, the control. 

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. 

Dan Pashman: You know, like, oh, it’s a little too hot, it’s a little bit too cool. Like, you you make the adjustment and you see the difference in the pan, immediately. 

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. 

Dan Pashman: Now, that’s kind of amazing.

Andres O’Hara: So what do you think? What are your final thoughts?

Dan Pashman: It was easier to figure it out than I expected. 

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. 

Dan Pashman: And I am a very crotchety when it comes to new devices, I will admit. I like it. I will use it again. I’m not sure how often. The stove is always right here. 

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. What do you think about the idea of in the future when you need to make a decision like this, again, of considering a completely induction stove? No gas.

Dan Pashman: I would be more open to it now, having done this test. The biggest issue, I think, would be the pots and pans. 

Andres O’Hara: Right.

Dan Pashman: We got All-Clad pots and pans. I have three pots and three pans that we got when we got married and I expected to die with them. And if I have to replace those because they don’t work on the induction, that’s an issue. 

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. 

Dan Pashman: So now you’ve eliminated one of the barriers, which would just be like, Wahh, I don’t want to learn something new.

Andres O’Hara: Mm-hmm. 

[LAUGHING] 

Dan Pashman: But the only other barrier would just be like, I don’t want to have to buy a bunch of new pots. 

Andres O’Hara: Yeah, that’s one of the big barriers to getting people to try induction. Copper, aluminum, glass, they won’t work. But a lot of stainless steel and cast iron will work on induction. Anything where you can stick a magnet to the bottom. I say, take those beautiful heirloom pots, You fill them with soil, and maybe you can plant a nice tomato plant in there. Teach your children, Dan, about growing their own food, because, you know, I’ll tell you… when the climate apocalypse comes for us all, because everyone loved their gas stove too much, like you, it’s gonna be a pretty useful skill to grow your own food.  

Dan Pashman: Great, Andres. Now I have to learn how to garden.

[LAUGHING] 

MUSIC

Dan Pashman: Thanks, Andres. This was great.

Andres O’Hara: Thanks, Dan.

Dan Pashman: If you want to read Rebecca Leber’s reporting on the gas industry, and Brady Seals’s report from the Rocky Mountain Institute, we’ve linked to those on our website at Sporkful.com. We also have links to the reviews for induction stoves and cooktops that we mentioned in this episode.

Dan Pashman: Don’t miss an episode of The Sporkful. In Apple Podcasts, Subscribe. If you listen in Stitcher and Spotify, please Favorite. You can do it right now, while you’re listening. Thanks.

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