WARNING: Silpat, induction and wok do not mix!

pbrisjarFebruary 18, 2009

Well I've been using a silpat between wok and stove as when I started out I didn't and wound up with some serious messes on the stove. But tonight I had a near-disaster. The Silpat (yes, the real thing not some off-brand) MELTED. Got goo all over the wok and some spots on the induction surface as well. Fortunately I was able to scrape and scrub it off but if I had not seen it in time it would have been awful.

I was using a basic flat-bottomed carbon steel wok (the one from Target - which BTW appears to have warped already) and the burner was on high (not power boost). Burner was on for maybe 2 minutes maximum - just enough to "cook off" the water. This does explain the odd discoloration, etc. I had been seeing with previous uses. Must have been little bits of it melting away.

I am so, so discouraged. This was the one thing that made me be at peace with having an induction stove rather than gas. Now I can't use that so I don't know what to do.

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Fori is not pleased

Thanks for the warning.

I'm guessing it's because your wok got REALLY hot (duh!). I've managed to torch a paper towel getting a cast iron pot veryvery hot, so I guess I know the feeling.

Were the messes pre-Silpat that bad? I like my induction because no matter how bad the messes, they're easy to clean. (I do use a paper towel sometimes when I expect a boil-over because I don't want to fry the electronics on my antique cooktop's control panel).

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 1:11AM
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Silpat is *supposed* to be safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pre-silpat mess was so bad Hubby had to take a scraper to the cooktop. To be fair, this happened when I did the initial seasoning of the wok so it was not normal usage. Even so it has made me quite skittish.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 1:15AM
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Sorry you have had to go thru this.

First of all, I'd call silpat customer service. I'm a week away from ordering my induction and was excited about using a silpat under it.

What brand stove do you have? Is there any chance the burner got hotter than it was suppose to? Have you used it since? Yo may also want to talk to their customer service people.

Keep us posted what you find out. Could you have a "lemon" silpat?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 9:17AM
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I'm wondering if the Silpat 500° applies only to oven use, where the temperature is distributed over the entire surface rather than concentrated on a much smaller spot. It's entirely possible that the concentration was considerably hotter than 500.

I tried a liner on our single high-powered induction burner & became alarmed when it began changing color under the pot. I also found it hid the pot zone markings. We've now used our induction for almost 2 years without any liner & it still looks great. Any stubborn spills can be scraped off.

There's an alternative procedure to seasoning a wok or cast iron pan by using the oven, as detailed in the great book The Breath of a Wok. You do first heat the pot on a burner, apply a coat of oil or melted shortening to the inside, and then place the pan upside down on an oven rack lined with foil. The oven should be preheated to at least 450° and you leave it in for an hour. Then turn the oven off & let the pan(s) cool inside. I do this several times per pan for a great non-stick finish, even Lodge Logic ones.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 10:16AM
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datura-07: I was on the main Silpat site last night and the problem is that there is no mention of any warranty or anything. Also, as gizmonike mentions, using a Siplat on an induction burner is outside of described/normal usage. I have the Kenmore Elite induction range.

gizmonike: Yeah I know about the alternative seasoning method (and use it on my cast iron too). However, this particular wok has plastic handles on it so it won't go in the oven. Shoulda thought of that before I bought it... My Silpat got that discoloration thing, too. I just figured it was the dirt/grease that I was trying to keep off the burner as it pretty much cleaned off. There was always that little bit of something, though. My other reason (besides cleanup issues) for using the liner was to prevent scratching, as I also got a few light scratches the first time I used the wok.

Hubby says there is still Silpat goo on the wok. There might possibly be some on the stove as well. *sigh*

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 11:05AM
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Fori is not pleased

Seasoning is when I had my paper towel incident as well. So I know I got it to (*thinking back to the book*) at least around 451F. I don't think 500F is out of the realm of belief.

I've been wok shopping for my cooktop and have been trying to avoid the wood and plastic handles for oven seasoning. I think you need a new wok! (The Lodge iron wok is tempting, but it's kind of heavy--maybe it wouldn't scratch because it wouldn't budge?)

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 11:17AM
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I sure don't think it was the Silpat's fault!

Running an induction burner on High, heating a dry metal wok would result in temperatures way over 500 degrees, I'd guess. Certainly, we all recognize that the temperature of a gas flame is WAY over 500 degrees: what I found suggests it reaches over 1500 degrees.

Now, admittedly induction doesn't work the same way as gas, but there has to be a significant temperature gradient to "drive" heat from the pan into whatever food you're cooking. Wok cooking, for example, typically uses enough heat to get oil to, if not over, the smoke point. Since for peanut oil that is 450 degrees, you can safely assume that the pan is sigificantly hotter, thus exceeding your 500 degree Silpat rating. Now, if you're heating an empty metal wok, I'd guess the temp is way higher than that, as there is nothing (i.e. food) to carry heat away from the pan.

I think it's nuts, a real fire hazard, to put anything under a pan that is being used to saute, wok, sear, grill, etc. I am confident you achieve temps well beyond the burning point of any material you might choose to put under the pot. Plus, is anyone sure about what might be outgassing from silicone when it's heated up to or beyond it's melting point?

If you're just simmering water, that might be more reasonable. Still, if it were me, I'd just clean the range top.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 12:09PM
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I had a similar experience with Silpat under a cast iron grill pan. I had the heat on 7 or 8 (maybe too hot for cast iron) and noticed a burning smell. At that point there was a 2 inch brown burned spot on the Silpat, but it hadn't melted. I haven't cooked much with cast iron and I have heard it does not heat evenly, so perhaps this was due to a hot spot on the pan. I still use the Silpat for other cookware with no problems at all. I like the way it keeps the pan from sliding around. Mess is not a problem- any splatters wipe away easily.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 12:53PM
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I'm curious about using the Silpat. I have a gas cooktop but I'm considering induction when we buy new appliances at our vacation place. Are you just using the silpat to keep your cooktop clean? I thought one of the advantages of induction was that you had a smooth cooktop that you could just wipe off?

Maybe I'm missing something.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 11:38PM
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mcmann: There are basically three reasons why I used the silpat.

Easier cleanup - Despite what everyone says, things DO get cooked on / stuck to the smooth top from time to time. It's a PITA to clean that up.

Protects the cooktop from scratching - Unless the bottom of your pan is perfectly smooth, scratches are a possibility.

Keeps the pan from sliding around - With a smooth top, unless your pan is perfectly flat AND on the heavy side, it will slide around every time you go to stir/toss/etc. It's highly annoying.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 12:13AM
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I am so sorry you had to experience such a mess with the silpat. I use a dark charcoal color oven liner that I got from Solutions on my induction cooktop. I have not had any problems with it and not only is the material thinner, but also feels differently form silpat. I also saw a similar oven liner sold at one of the local housing fairs. I have not used it for wok cooking. However, I have often used the boost setting, esp. when I want to get a pot of water to boil.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 4:32AM
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pbrisjar- Thanks for clearing that up. It makes perfect sense. Maybe manufacturers will start to sell something with their product that will do the same thing yet be more durable.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 9:22AM
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Fori is not pleased

I think it's probably fine to continue using Silpats--just not for long periods of really high heat, like seasoning.

The Wolf induction surface is slightly lumpy--I wonder if it helps with sliding and visible scratching issues. Might be worth checking out. Gotta be some reason it's so overpriced! :)

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 10:51AM
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fori, that's why I'm ordering Wolf. That design or what ever you call it on the surface. I noticed that fingerprints, etc. don't show up as much on the Wolf as it does on others.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 11:36AM
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momintennies: I have one of those black liners. Tried it and it drove me nuts as the slipperiness issue increased.

fori: the melting did not hapen when I was seasoning the wok. The melting happened when I had the burner on high for all of about 2 minutes max.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 1:36PM
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I know very little about induction burners but if you have to put something between the burner and the utensil you are using what is the advantage of having induction?
The surprising thing about the Silpat,which is designed for baking, would be if it did not melt.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 7:57PM
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Fori is not pleased

That is kinda scary--2 minutes? I wonder if the Silpat had degraded with use. Were you ever able to remove the goo?

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 8:28PM
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paddy_99: You don't have to and in fact most don't. I only used it under my wok as I had a bad experience that I didn't want to repeat.

People get induction because it is energy efficient, fast to respond, has a good simmer and a good high (depending on the unit of course) and is normally quite easy to clean up.

fori: I wonder that as well. There had been some discoloration but I figured that was the grease, etc. Now I'm not so sure. The goo is, fortunately, coming off fairly easily. I still need to take a close look at the cook top in bright light just to make sure, though.

Wolf is way out of my price range. Heck, the Kenmore Elite range was, technically, out of my price range. I had to wait for a really good sale and give up all my extra spending for the next 6+ months in order to get it.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 8:36PM
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Fori is not pleased

I think I will break down and try out the Lodge cast iron wok. I don't think it'll slide and hopefully it'll be smooth on the bottom.

I just don't wanna have to wash it.

I'll probably replace my cooktop soon but can't justify the price on the Wolf. It'll be covered with caked on food half the time anyway...

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 8:52PM
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fori: You do know that you don't really "clean" cast iron, don't you? It's one of the things I love about it.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 9:13PM
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Fori is not pleased

I clean it and my plastic sink has the scars to prove it. I figure the seasoning is the same as the black stuff on my oven walls, and that takes Easy-Off or the self-clean cycle to remove, so a little dish soap won't hurt it. So far so good, except for some wrist injuries. :)

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 10:54PM
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Let me ask you a question: would you have been willing to put the silpat INSIDE the pan?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 5:56PM
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Silicone rubber is pretty inert to most chemicals, but it does dissolve slowly when subjected to silicon oil. Either silicone brake fluid (DOT 5), or various silicone sprays should aid removal of silicone rubber bonded to your wok. If the oil you use works for you it will probably also remove any silicone rubber from the cooktop without damaging the glass, but the operative word here is probably.

Obviously, remove all the silicone oil before cooking on the hob. Remove oil, if any, from the cooktop with the provided cleaning solution (provided at least in the case of the Kenmore). Remove from the wok with detergent, or auto body paint prep cleaner, e.g., duPont 3900S.

By the way, another datum for this topic. DW left the house one day with the tea kettle on high on our Kenmore induction cooktop. When the kettle ran out of water, it heated the silicone pad beyond its limit. Fortunately, the cooktop shut down on its own. Maybe a hob temperature sensor is included in the Kenmore.

We removed the silicon pad from service due to elastomer breakdown, but it did not end up sticking to either kettle or hob. The pad being used was the Sili Gourmet silicone bake liner, by William Bounds, Ltd. These are all-red silicone (no transparent part).


    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 12:22PM
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I think the common thread here is that a pot with poor heat conduction (cast iron, steel without aluminum core) can get hot spots that are really hot when used on an induction cooktop. Be aware.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 4:08AM
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The only time I have had a problem with the SilPat silicone pad was when I accidentally got oil under the SilPat when I cooked on very high heat. It wasn't a horrendous situation, but it did require a good bit of cleaning.

I think one needs to be rather careful about keeping the SilPat clean--both underneath and on top of the pad. This should generally eliminate all problems.


    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 3:11PM
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