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Aug 5, 2008 05:53 PM

Is it okay to plot the demise of my smooth top range?

I just bought a new house and with it came a Kenmore Elite fridge and smooth top stove/oven. I admit that (the smooth top) it was the first thing I noticed about the kitchen when I walked in but I loved the house so here I am. I've not tried it yet. I dread cooking on the thing really. It doesn't seem to have been taken good care of (the fridge too). I've cleaned the top with the special smooth top cleaner and there is still...stuff...goo...something on one of the burners. I've even tried scraping it with one of those, well, scrapers, they make for these things. I can't use my cast iron on it and I've become incredibly whiny about the entire issue. So I would love to hear from those who have an opinion on smooth tops. I've searched on the board a bit but I just would like a fresh take. I'm seriously considering selling it and buying something else but I'll give it a shot.

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  1. If I have to use electric I prefer the old style with the spiral heating elements. The smooth tops just have to waste more electricity. Why be so unhappy with something you use each day? Get a gas range, what you really need for cast iron.

    Can you hook up to natural gas or get a propane bottle or submarine installed? Gas saves money too

    1. What's the worst you can do, break it? Or maybe that would be the best you could do? ;-)

      Seriously, I've sorta lived with one of these, as we have a smooth top range at work. There it's practically a luxury compared with what most people have in what passes for a kitchen in their office, I suspect. The key thing: the bottom of your pan must be absolutely flat. The funniest thing I've ever done on the office smooth top is try to boil some corn on the cob. We had an old enameled steel pot in the cabinet, perfect right? Well it was crazy warped and I basically had to stand there and hold one end down to keep it in contact enough for the water to heat enough. Hehehe. It did work though, came out not too bad.

      So, flat bottoms, nothing warped. And it won't quickly react to heat changes, certainly not as quickly as gas, and maybe not even as quickly as the old fashioned electric elements. Be prepared for that. Otherwise, though, it does work. Cast iron actually should be a fine material to use; just be gentle. (Or, if you're still desperate to get rid of the thing, don't be gentle, and you'll be rid of it right quick! ;-) Since cast iron doesn't react quickly to heat changes anyway, it should be right at home on a cooktop that doesn't react quickly. Just don't bang it down on the burner. No problem.

      It'll take some trial and error to see what heat levels you need, but this is true of any range for me, certainly any electric. Whatever is baked onto the ceramic top isn't likely going to be a huge issue except visually. Certainly these are valid reasons to get something else if you want. If you already have gas in the house, there may be a gas outlet just waiting for you to make that decision. In my opinion, the smooth top is not so much of a detriment vs the coil electric to warrant throwing this out and getting the coil type. So I would think the choice is either keep it or get gas. If the house isn't already plumbed for gas in the kitchen, or worse if it has no gas at all, this is a significant undertaking.

      3 Replies
      1. re: CrazyOne

        I haven't done this in a while since I now cook with a gas stove, but whenever I would get stains on the smooth top electric burners, I would try and burn it off. It works surprisingly well. Turn the stovetop on high and allow the caked on material to disolve. The residual would usually wipe clean with a damp rag afterwards.

        1. re: Bhutani

          I use a straight blade to scrape crap off my stupid flat top. i also use my cast iron..but i rent so i don't care. one day a gas top is coming my way and i can't wait.

          1. re: Bhutani

            Interesting! A girl at work told me about this method just this morning!

        2. You have a smooth top range, cast iron cookware, and the smooth top isn't broken? You could/should do better

          1 Reply
          1. re: rich in stl

            Well, I've always been a bit of an under-achiever.

          2. Oh just drop something really heavy on that thing and break it badly enough to have to replace it and get a gas cook top. Icky, phooh, feh nasty thing. The inventor should be condemed to eternity cooking on the nasty thing.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Candy

              Or, better yet, put it on Craig's List. One man/womans "meat" is another's "poison."

            2. I moved to a town with no gas 8 years ago. The smooth top did take some getting used to. I did use my cast iron carefully, just don't shake the pan. Calphalon non stick and kitchenaid or cuisinart stainless work great. The key is flat bottom. The ones with a thick steel/aluminum sandwich that does not warp when it heats up. Each round area has a different size and heat rating. If a pan is too small, not covering the heat source it is a waste of energy. It is really good when you need a low setting, put a large pot on the smallest burner and set to low. Can simmer corned beef for 4 hours easily.
              For cleaning we use either bon ami or barkeepers friend and a scraper with replaceable single edge razor blades.

              7 Replies
              1. re: phantomdoc

                Please forgive my dumb question (I have been fighting with my smooth top!! and bought the barkeepers -but not working so wonderful) -where are you buying the scraper? I live in small town and have not seen that at Walmart...and I remain a tad nervous about scratching it. Thanks-

                1. re: dklipscomb

                  I do not remember buying the scraper but I get the blades at Home Depot. Hardware store would be first place to look.

                  1. re: dklipscomb

                    Cerama-Bryte is sold at Lowe's, Wal-Mart, etc and it comes alone or with a small putty-type knife/scraper. Plus thin yellow scratchy pads to use.
                    It cleans up beautifully but it needs to be cleaned after every use. If a pot boils over it stains. Any little drips I wipe up quickly.
                    Barkeepers friend works great too- just make a paste and rub, rub, rub.
                    I wouldn't use cheap pans that are painted, but I have no problem with stock pots that are a little warped. My flat top gets VERY HOT so I rarely cook over 6 unless it's to boil water fast or quick-dry fry things. There was no gas option in this area, so we were stuck with electric when we picked this neighborhood. I miss gas cooking.
                    Anyway you have to clean it daily (I make my husband do it, he's got really good upper body strength and it always gleams)
                    You want to use the right size pan for the burner-that's sort of basic logic.
                    If you really hate it I'm sure you could sell it- they are much nicer visual option than the coil electric burner, and like I said they get very hot, very fast. (Mine is a Kenmore)

                    1. re: dklipscomb

                      I got my scraper thing at Lowe's but I also saw it at Wal-Mart.

                      1. re: dklipscomb

                        I just use a regular old razor blade, and then clean it with the cleaner that you can buy anywhere for glass top ranges.

                        1. re: phantomdoc

                          There is no gas in my area, and for me the smooth top is infinitely better than the old electric coil stove I used to have. I could never keep the coil stove clean enough for my liking, and when things boiled over I had to contend with the drip pans and all the gunk underneath the stove top, not to mention all the stuff that stuck on the coils themselves that can't be cleaned at all. When I bought my smooth top stove I was forced to buy all new pots and pans (wasn't sad about this at all!) I gave up the copper bottomed, glass, and enamel pots that I used to use in exchange for Calphalon joy. I replaced my Williams-Sonoma cast iron grill with a Calphalon grill works which just as well -- and the old grill still works great for outdoor cooking.

                          The scraper thingie is just a holder for a razor blade, most of the time I just wipe down the top with a soft dishcloth. I was out of the stove cleaner once and found that plain old baking soda did a fine job cleaning the carbon build-up from spill-over. I just made a paste of baking soda and left it on while I did some other cleaning, then wiped it clean. I love the smooth top!