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Jan 26, 2010 06:13 AM

Wok and Flat Top Electric Range

I have two questions: 1. Can I use a wok ring on an electric flat top range without damaging the range? 2. I tried to season my flat bottom wok and I can't seem to get the sides darken any suggestions? I'm hoping a wok ring will solve my problems with both seasoning the wok and distributing the heat, because I really love Chinese food and I am very excited about getting into it!

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  1. When I moved to an all electric house 26 years ago I had to put away my carbon steel wok and its ring. The ring is used for gas burners with a wok that has a concave bottom. For an electric smoothtop range you need a flat-bottomed wok. I don't understand why you would season a wok. Is it iron? The wok you have should be able to handle high heat. Use a somewhat heavy pan, and as you use it, I'm sure it will darken.

    1. Carbonsteel,

      You "can" use a wok ring on an electric flat top range. I do so, only during for stovetop seasoning. Otherwise, not much reason for it. Afterall, putting a wok ring will length the time to heat the wok and lower its maxmium temperature.

      So, again I do use a wok ring during seasoning because it help to tilt the wok to its side during seasoning, but not for cooking.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        ChemKin, what is your wok made of? I do remember that with a carbon steel wok you expect it to darken with use. Is that what you use? I've had bad results using a carbon steel wok over hight heat on my glass cooktop.

        1. re: sueatmo

          Yo what's up, Sueatmo.

          Yeah, my wok is a carbon steel wok. Yes, my carbon steel wok is fairly dark. Pure black at the bottom and gradually to brown to the side.

          Can I ask you what do you mean by bad results? You mean it starts to rust? Or foods start to stick? Or excessive smoke coming out?

          ChemKin Out.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            No, I am realizing that after years (decades) of not using carbon steel I had forgotten to treat it before I used it. I don't think I ever heard of seasoning it, but I do dimly remember that you are supposed to put it on the gas burner with oil and let it smoke(?) before using it. Or maybe, I just used it and it seasoned natrually? When I bought one w/in the last 2 years or so, I just tried to use it w/out doing anything to it. Food stuck. It was not pretty.

            Actually, I don't think my glass stove gets quite hot enough for acutal wok cookery.

            1. re: sueatmo


              If you type "seasoning carbon steel wok" on google or youtube, you will find a lot of hit. It is not different from what you described -- basically heating the wok with oil. As you use the wok, it will season further and the seasoned surface will be more stable as well. Nonentheless, a brand new wok has to be seasoned first, otherwise meat will stick to it. If the meat continue to stick to it, then the wok can never season on its own.

              It is like brand new car. To continue to filled up your car with gas, you need to drive to a gas station regularly, but you need to go to your very first gas station, you need to have a little bit of gas in your car. No car dealer will sell you a brand new car without gas in it.

              1. re: sueatmo

                Another thing to think about before using new carbon steel cookware is that it may have had a clear lacquer coating applied to it at the factory to prevent rust. You have to scrub the lacquer off before you start seasoning.

        2. Hi CarbonSteel, great to hear you're excited about Asian wok cooking!
          Full disclosure, I have been teaching wok cooking for over 20 yrs. and have joined numerous forums on Chow and other sites about this confusing topic. My husband and I did a lot of research because many of us who live in S.Florida have electric stoves, whether it's glass or coil.
          1. NO, you cannot use wok ring, it will scratch the glass and negate your warranty. This is answer from tech support and manufacturer of most glass tops in USA, Schott :

          2. how did you "season"? stovetop or bake? "seasoning" is the most important process to set up your wok to use for life. But many folks don't get this right as sueatmo discovered and when people are not successful at their first attempt, they throw in the towel and are discouraged. That's why I "preseasoned" my cast iron woks so people can start using their woks right away and have fun instead of wasting their time 'seasoning' with no guarantees they are successful.

          3. it's not only distribution of heat but electric takes a long time to heat up and cool down. As chemicalkinetics notes, the wok ring makes the heat further from your wok surface. As sueatmo mentions and hits it on the head, she found electric never gives out enough heat for wok cookery! It's when you add food into your wok, the heat just lowers so much and that's why folks get the "soupy" veggies or "boiled" meat. The 2 biggest complaints I hear.

          Electric stoves require a different technique to wok cooking: you have to physically lift your wok off if you want to cool it down. This makes cooking a 'weight lifting' exercise and not enjoyable esp. for small people like myself.

          4. while I'm at this, the straight sides of the wok is not a natural stir fry motion and food gets stuck in the corners making cleaning it a chore. Many have told me this. When they converted to using a cast iron wok, they couldn't believe the difference in texture and flavor.

          A simple and cheap solution is to purchase a portable butane (NOT propane) gas stove which sits on top of your electric stove. Many folks who have this setup incl. myself love this. I've included a photo of my wok/stove setup on my electric coil stove in my home kitchen. It works beautifully. My stove is an Iwatani 12,000 btu which has heat focused in the center instead of spread out like most commercial or residential gas stoves and really cranks out some serious heat! Even folks who own residential gas stoves noticed my stove is more powerful because there's a limit to how much the gas company are allowed to open the valves.

          Sorry, this is so long, I wanted to cover all your points. Hope this helps.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Eleanor Hoh

            Hi Eleanor,

            Thanks for the info everything you said makes perfect sense... now where can I get one of these gas powered burners?

          2. Just to set the record straight: I do use a flat-bottomed wok with a non-stick surface that seems to allow me to use high heat from my stove burners. I don't use it as much as I would like because it is ginormous. I place it over the burner that fits its flat bottom the best.

            2 Replies
            1. re: sueatmo

              sueatmo, the manufacturers of Teflon non-stick warn on their site: NOT to use above medium heat and to open wiindows to ventilate. Many small bird owners lament their birds have died from the toxic fumes.
              I've been through all the different permutations and I found the portable gas burner to be the perfect answer to the heat problem.

              1. re: Eleanor Hoh

                My wok is not Teflon I don't think. It is made in Germany and appears to be cast aluminum--sort of like Berndes cast aluminum. I started using this vessel before I knew not to heat non-stick surfaces on high. Since I don't detect any problems, I continue to use it on high heat. The surface of the wok is not like my Scanpan, or my Cuisinare saute pans. And, like I said, I don't think my stove heats truly high enough for a traditional wok.