Reeta, a homemaker has been using a glass top gas stove for over a decade and is quite happy with it. It looks beautiful and is easy to clean. She simply loves it. On the other hand, Amala, who used a glass top stove for three years simply detest it. One fine day, the glass shattered with a huge noise. Fortunately, no one was hurt. But, it took her months to overcome the trauma and get back to using the stove with the same old confidence.
They both had glass top stoves from the same brand. Yet, their experience couldn’t be more contrasting. We talked with a few experts to understand why this happened and whether glass top gas stoves are safe? And we have some interesting insights.
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Glass Used For Gas Stovetops
Stovetops are made with tempered glass or glass-ceramic which are resistant to thermal shocks.
Tempered glasses are made by superheating and then quickly cooling glass so that the outer surface goes into compression giving tempered glass its strength.
Glass Ceramic on the other hand have a manufacturing process similar to glasses, but add a nucleating agent to the molten raw materials. This enables the formation of crystal nuclei, which is the building block of crystals. When cooled to room temperature, they look like glass. But is stronger, durable and more heat resistant. Brands like Prestige use SCHOTT Ceran glass which is actually Glass Ceramic and not tempered glass.
While tempered glasses have a heat resistance of up to 470 degree Celsius, glass ceramic can tolerate up to 950 degree Celsius.
So, why do tempered glass shatter despite the huge heat resistance?
According to general contractor Anand Sharma, the edges of tempered glasses are sensitive. Over a period of time, if you repeatedly hit the edges of the tempered glass with a hot and heavy pressure cooker, it could shatter. So, users should take care while handling heavy cookware around glass top stoves.
Yet another reason is improper cleaning using abrasive scrubs and cleaning agents. Raj Dev, a civil engineer concurs, “Abrasive scrubs could cause micro-scratches which clubbed with uneven heating can lead to the glass shattering over a period of time.”
Similarly, placing hot utensils or dragging cookware on the stovetop could also damage the structural integrity of glass tops.
Anshal Patel, who formerly worked with a tempered glass manufacturer cites uneven heating as one of the reasons why tempered glass shatters. He says, ” Often we have observed that the shattering originates along one of the burners which is used more frequently than others. The glass around this burner expands and contracts more than the rest. So, it has a tendency to crack and shatter.”
This kind of problem is predominantly seen in 3-4 burner stoves as the ones at the back aren’t used as frequently as the ones in the front.
Rusty burners are also a cause of concern. According to a news report, a glass stovetop in a family apartment in Singapore shattered and sent flying shards to the living room. But when the manufacturers analysed the matter, they found a rusty burner to be the culprit. The rust was a result of spilled soup that they hadn’t cleaned up.
The rust in the burner would lead to uneven heating, which could in turn cause the glass to crack.
Are Glass Top Stoves Safe?
So, all this brings us to the question- Are glass top stoves safe? All experts we talked to replied in the affirmative.
Incidents of glass top gas stoves shattering are quite rare. Even if you check the user reviews, you will hardly find 2-3 cases among 5000 plus user reviews.
Moreover, even if it breaks, it won’t crack into pieces that could send you to the emergency room. Rather, they shatter into millions of tiny crystal-like pieces with blunt edges. No cases of injuries have been reported because of glass top of stoves shattering.
Myths Surrounding Glasstop stoves
I believe we have addressed the biggest myth that glass top stoves aren’t safe. Other common myths are-
Glass top stoves are more prone to breakage if PNG supply is used.
We are not sure of the origin of this myth. PNG ( piped natural gas) is supplied at a lower pressure compared to inflow from LPG cylinders. It has almost the same flame temperature as LPG. So, there is no basis for this unfounded claim.
Glass top stoves are high maintenance
Glasstop stoves require basic maintenance and care just like every other kitchen appliance.
You shouldn’t keep or drag cookware on top of glass top stoves. You should also take care not to hit its surface with heavy or hot cookware. It should be cleaned using a non-abrasive sponge. Also, never pour water on the surface of a hot glass top stove.
So it all boils down to minimizing scratches and avoiding drastic temperature variation, which isn’t difficult to do.
Glass top stoves aren’t as durable as stainless steel
The world is shifting from stainless steel stoves to glass top ones. They have a uniform flame distribution, don’t rust or dent. Stainless steel could lose its sheen in the long run too.
So, sure if you drop a full pressure cooker on a stainless steel stove, it won’t shatter. But, if you take minimal care, which everyone who enters a kitchen ought to, then a glass top stove is in every way better than stainless steel.