Induction vs. Gas Cooktop: Which Is Greener?

The debate between home chefs heats up as induction stovetops gain popularity.

Young woman stirring pan on cooker top with chopsticks

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For around two million years, humans have cooked with fire. But as the trend to electrify the world continues to grow, the age of combustion cooking may soon come to an end.

Consumers can still cook with a gas stovetop—the method preferred by some culinary experts for its adjustable flame and its independence from the power grid. However, many chefs have embraced induction stovetops—smooth, flat glass-ceramic cooktops that heat up only when metal cookware touches their surfaces. Induction cooktops also stand out because they have excellent temperature control and they don’t release harmful emissions during operation. 

Other than the fact that they both cook food, gas, and electric stovetops couldn’t be more different. Here, we explore those differences to determine which cooktop is the greenest. 

How Inductions Cooktops Work

Woman stirring in cooking pot on smooth-faced induction stovetop
The surface of induction stovetops remains cool, except for the immediate area surrounding the burner.

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Induction stovetops cook using the power of electromagnetism. Turn on an induction cooktop, and the electricity sends an alternating current through the copper coils beneath the surface, producing a magnetic field. Without a pot or pan on the surface, the cooktop remains cool.

The moment any metal containing iron touches an induction cooktop, the cookware begins to interact with the magnetic field, producing heat and cooking the food. Because the electricity occurs exclusively between the coils and the cookware, only the immediate area surrounding the burner is heated up and cooled down quickly. (The heat conducted through the cooktop surface will remain very hot for a few minutes after use.)


Induction stovetops reign supreme in efficiency. The vast majority of electricity generated by induction directly cooks the food, with some estimates at nearly 100%. Induction ranges provide consistent, evenly distributed heat and immediate temperature changes. This higher level of control offers the greatest efficiency for both time and operational costs. 


Because the heat is transferred so efficiently, induction cooktops cook significantly faster than gas stovetops. Induction ranges can easily remain at low temperatures for long periods, sometimes a challenge for gas stovetops. Induction cooking converts also swear by the ease and speed of cleaning the induction surface—not to mention the added safety of not working around an open flame.


In general, induction cooktops cost more than gas stovetops, but as more and more cities move toward electrification, those prices will continue to level out. Still, induction stovetop surfaces are delicate, can easily scratch, and must be kept clean to prevent cracks. These cooktops also favor stainless steel cookware and are incompatible with aluminum and copper pans and pots. 

Induction cooking can also be quite loud. At higher temperatures—especially when more than one piece of cookware is involved—induction ranges produce a buzzing sound. Induction cooks also note that fans on induction stovetops add to the noise.

How Gas Cooktops Work

Close-up of camping stove and pot.
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Gas cooking is a noisy business itself. A mixture of oxygen and natural gas is sprayed into the burner, producing a hiss. The turn of a dial or the press of an ignition button—click, click, click—creates an electric spark that transforms the oxygen gas into flame. The more oxygen-gas you add, the bigger and the hotter the flame. 

When ignited, a gas stovetop emits various chemicals, including formaldehyde, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide. Even when a gas cooktop is not ignited, a tiny percentage of the methane—a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide—leaks out. Collectively, those emissions add up: In one year, gas ranges across America have roughly the same climate impact as half a million vehicles on the road.


As with any open flame, a significant percentage of the energy generated by a gas stovetop is lost to the cool air surrounding it. Efficiency levels for gas ranges hover around 28% to 34%. By efficiency standards, gas stovetops rank last among modern ranges.


Chefs who swear by gas rightly point out that gas stovetops allow the user to eyeball the flame and customize the setting according to the cookware and food inside. Induction cooktops, however, rely on digital settings and don’t provide cooks the same flexibility.

Gas ranges are also durable and relatively easy to clean. You can also cook over gas with pretty much any type of cookware. 


There are several more disadvantages aside from the obvious environmental ones. While gas stovetops may be cheaper than induction stovetops, they also require a hood or fan for ventilation, adding to the overall price. (At a minimum, you should open a window while cooking with gas.) 

Most importantly, gas stovetops pose specific health risks due to chronic nitrogen dioxide exposure. An open flame also opens up a chance for fire or burns. Gas appliances, in general, run the risk of gas leaks.

Which Is Greener?

A woman looks over a covered stainless steel pot cooking on a high-tech induction stove as part of her smart home.
Induction ovens will become part of tomorrow's smart home.

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Hands down, an induction range is the greenest way to cook because of lower greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality in your kitchen. As more and more renewables begin to power towns and cities worldwide, even the emissions from powering induction cooktops will become carbon-neutral. Induction cooking is also faster, safer, and more efficient. How much more green can you get?

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Why is induction cooking not popular?

    Gas stoves are quite common in American homes, and as a new technology, induction cooking has yet to surpass its fossil fuel counterpart. However, as the health and environmental tolls of gas cooking become part of the public conversation, induction cooking will likely continue to grow in popularity. 

  • What are the disadvantages of induction cooking?

    Induction cooktops require magnetic metal cookware to operate correctly, and the glass-ceramic surface of an induction stovetop must be cleaned and cared for to keep it in working condition. Induction ranges are also generally more expensive than electric or gas cooktops.

View Article Sources
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