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A good quality pan should be able to disburse heat evenly. What it does is it smooths out the imperfection of the stove. Of course you can always get around this by buying a industrial stove, but not all of us have that type of money. But even then, buying quality pans can be pretty pricey. One way to get around this is by using a Heat Diffuser. But the question is, does it work? The Best Heat Diffuser should be able to disperse heat evenly and cook food at a steady rate. Unfortunately, most model fall short.
What does a Heat Diffuser Do?
Heat Diffuser has been around for a long time. Its original purpose is to smooth out heating pattern. Often time this was used on electric coils where the heat can be splotchy. Today, diffuser are used both to diffuse heat and to provide induction capability.
In order for a pan to be induction capable, it needs to have a magnetic pull. Since most pans are made of Aluminum, most are not compatible. By using a diffuser, you can get around this. However, you are limited to Stainless Steel.
Why is there Uneven Heat?
The reason why pans heat up unevenly is due to thermal conductivity. The grade of the metal and its ability to transfer heat determines how heat travels. Cookware like Cast Iron or Stainless Steel are actually horrible conductor of heat. Because of that, the top side of the pan can be significantly cooler than the bottom. You want something like Copper or Aluminum to diffuse the heat. That is the reason why a lot of high quality pan uses these metal.
So Why Use Stainless Steel as a Heat Diffuser
The main reason why Stainless Steel Heat Diffuser are so popular is because of induction. Unlike Aluminum or Copper, it has a magnetic pull. You can get around the uneven pattern by making it thick. But in terms of performance, its actually quite poor.
Copper and Aluminum is King
If your goal is to just get better heating, then go for copper or aluminum. They will be your best bet if you have mediocre pans. They should disburse the heat a lot more evenly than a regular diffuser. Older diffuser that uses asbestos should be avoided. While they do work, they do it poorly.
Performance with a Heat Diffuser
Generally, it takes longer to cook with a diffuser. This is mainly due to the fact you have more metal to heat. With a regular flame, its more direct. You get instant heat. But with a diffuser, you have to wait for the diffuser and the pan to heat up.
Once the diffuser is heat up, the performance of the diffuser is again related to the metal used. Diffuser that uses a better metal can transfer heat to the pan better. However with Cast Iron or Stainless Steel, its thermal conductivity is lower. So that means it transfer heat slower to the pan. You should take this into consideration.
Protecting the Pot?
The great thing about diffuser is that it protects it from direct heat. Truth be told, the heat does not damage the pan. Its the oil that makes it black. As long as you clean the grease from the pan, it shouldnt darken.
What can you use instead of a Heat Diffuser
Any slab of metal will work. The thicker it is, the better it is at diffusing heat. However, you should take into consideration of your flame. You need a flame strong enough to heat both the metal and the pan. Plus premade one simply fit better on your stove.
Best Heat Diffuser ListCopper Heat Diffuser Simmer Plate Heat Equalizer Defroster Plate – Made in USA (Best Overall)
If your goal is to just smooth out heating issue, then a giant slab of copper is the way to go. It should heat up pans better than other heat diffuser. And it can also double as a meat defroster. This model has a square slab so that it will remain stable. I recommend getting the 10 inch model for versatility.
Heat Diffuser, ROCKURWOK Aluminum Defrosting Tray Thawing Plate for Frozen Food (Best Aluminum Model)
While Copper is nice, it is expensive. You can go for a thin Aluminum model as an alternative. Since its thin, the heat transfers pretty quickly. However, I would caution against rapidly cooling and heating it. This will cause it to warp and ruin it. Other than that, it works relatively well. Like the Copper one, you can use it as a thawing plate.
HIC Harold Import Co. Heat Diffuser Reducer Flame Guard Simmer Plate, Stainless Steel (Best for Lower the Heat)
For taming heat this model by HIC will work just well. Unlike the other models, this does have a handle for ease of use. I suspect most will find this more than adequate. The price is also better than the rest. Because of that, I would say most people would prefer this. But in my opinion, you can just lower the heat, if its too strong…
9.45inch Diffuser Stainless Steel Induction Diffuser Plate (Best for Induction)
This round and smooth plate is great for induction. Since its flat, it wont scratch the induction cook top. The other stainless steel models are crinckley and does not really work well. It can also scratch it. So try this smooth plate if you want induction.
Should I use a Heat Diffuser?
Whether you get a heat diffuser depends on your cooking. If you find that things just boils or cook too rapidly, you can just lower the heat. But if you have a poor stove or pot, then getting a copper or aluminum diffuser is a good idea. Diffusers are also good if you have non compatible induction cookware. Using it in between them is a good way to get around it.
Looking for a Meat Slicer? Check out our article on Berkel Meat Slicer.