How strong are vitro-ceramic (“glass”) cooktops?

Chipped stovetop (photo by Roger Browne - CC-BY)

Chipped stovetop (photo by Roger Browne - CC-BY)

Vitroceramic cooktops are flat and sleek, but they also look fragile. How robust are they?

A vitroceramic stove top is a sheet of glassified ceramic which has been heated in such a way as to remove internal discontinuities where cracks would develop. A cooker made from this glass-ceramic substance is surprisingly strong.

The instruction manual for the Vitralux cook-top says this:

Your hob is made of an extraordinary material, glass and ceramic.

It is tough, much tougher than the glass it resembles. Nevertheless, do not stand on it to repair a light and do not drop a heavy object from the top of the kitchen unit above!

We tested the strength of our Eurokera Vitroceramic cooktop. Not on purpose, mind you.

We dropped a half-full box of cereal onto a milk bottle standing next to the stovetop. This knocked the neck of the bottle against the edge of the vitreoceramic surface, fracturing an area of radius 5mm and turning it into a glassy dust.

The cereal weighed 385g and had a center of mass 0.68 meters above the hob. The milk bottle weighed 223g and had a center of mass 0.09 meters above the hob. According to my calculations, they delivered a combined blow with an energy of 2.76 Joules. So that’s how much it takes to break a vitroceramic stovetop.

These stoves are also vulnerable to scratches (you should move pots by lifting them rather than by sliding), and to hot sugar (which pits the surface). If a sugary food overflows your cooking pot you should clean up the spill while it is still hot, to avoid permanent damage to the cooktop.

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