Eye on the Stove: All You Need to Know About Stove Burners
A common household term, the “eye on the stove” might have left you wondering about its meaning. Is it a reference to watch the stove carefully, or does the stove have an “eye”?
This article will provide a comprehensive understanding of what an eye on the stove is, its different types, materials, maintenance, and much more.
Eye on the Stove: Definition and Origins
The term “eye on the stove” refers to the stovetop burner, which is the metal disc in the wood stovetop.
This phrase is used to describe the burners on electric stoves that, when you think about it, somewhat resemble eyes.
To have a better understanding, let’s take a look at the history and evolution of the term “stove eye”.
Removable Metal Discs in Wood Stoves
The term “stove eye” was first used in the context of wood stoves. The stove eyes were removable metal discs placed on the holes of a wood stovetop, used to prevent pots and pans from being blackened by the wood fire.
Association with Electric Stoves
Today, the term “stove eye” is more commonly associated with electric stoves. Companies like Whirlpool use the term to refer to the burners and coils of their electric ranges.
Stove burners are called eyes not only because of their appearance but also because they are easy to clean, especially once one becomes accustomed to navigating them.
Types of Stove Eyes
Stove eyes come in various types, depending on the kind of stove you have. There are two main types of stoves: electric and gas.
Let’s discuss the different types of stove eyes found in both categories.
A. Electric Stove Eyes
Electric stove eyes are circular metal cylinders made up of nichrome resistance wires. When electricity is sent through the wires, it produces heat.
This heat then turns red once the control knob is turned to the highest level.
Electric stove eyes convert the electric current into heat, which is then transferred to the pot or pan to cook its contents.
B. Gas Stove Eyes
Gas stove eyes employ a gas and oxygen mixture ignited by an electronic spark or a pilot light.
Adjusting the amount of gas supplied to the burner also adjusts the height of the flame.
Materials Used in Stove Eyes
Stove burners are made from various materials, depending on their type and purpose.
Let’s examine the materials commonly used in the construction of stove eyes.
A. 304 Stainless Steel
Stove burners are typically made from 304 stainless steel, which is known for its durability, corrosion resistance, and ability to withstand high temperatures.
B. Nichrome Resistance Wires
The innermost layer of electric stove burners, which comprises the resistance wire, is usually made of a nickel-chromium alloy called Nichrome.
The alloy’s composition is typically 80% nickel and 20% chromium, but this can vary.
How Stove Eyes Work
Stove eyes work differently depending on whether you have an electric or a gas stove.
Here’s a brief overview of how each type of stove eye functions.
1. Electric Stove Eyes
Electric stove eyes convert the electric current into heat through the coil elements.
The stove burners or coil elements receive electricity provided by the variable switch, which is connected to the control knob.
Turning the knob increases or decreases the cooking temperature depending on the level that the knobs have been set to.
2. Gas Stove Eyes
In contrast, gas stove eyes work by employing a gas and oxygen mixture ignited by an electronic spark or a pilot light.
The amount of gas supplied to the burner adjusts the height of the flame and, in turn, the cooking temperature.
Cleaning Stove Eyes
Regular cleaning of stove eyes is essential to maintain their efficiency and appearance.
Appliance manufacturers have their recommended methods for cleaning stove eyes, and it is always best to refer to the appliance manual before cleaning them.
Here are two suggested methods for cleaning stovetop burners:
Method 1: Cleaning with Baking Soda
- Ensure that the stove burners have completely cooled off.
- Remove the grates on a gas range or the burner coils on an electric range, referring to the appliance manual if unsure of the procedure.
- Mix dishwashing soap with lukewarm water in a bowl, then dip a cloth into the mixture.
- For electric stoves, avoid getting the sockets wet.
- Mix a handful of baking soda into some water to create a thick paste and coat the burners with it.
- Leave the paste on the burners for about 20 minutes.
- Remove the caked-on paste from the burners and rinse them off to ensure no residue remains.
Method 2: Cleaning with Ammonia
- Place each stove burner inside a plastic bag.
- Add a quarter cup of ammonia to both bags, ensuring the burners are sealed with the ammonia fumes, not just covered in ammonia.
- Leave the plastic bags to sit in the sink overnight.
- The next day, open the bags in a well-ventilated room or kitchen and clean the stove burners with a sponge.
- Rinse the burners thoroughly to remove all traces of ammonia and pat them dry using a clean cloth or paper.
- Leave the burners to air-dry and ensure that the coils and stove sockets have dried before reconnecting the coils on an electric stove.
Electric or Gas Stove Eyes: Which Is Better?
To determine which type of stove burner is better, we need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using electric or gas stoves.
Let’s briefly discuss the pros and cons based on the following factors:
- Energy Efficiency
Factor 1: Cost
Electric stoves are generally more expensive than gas ranges. However, the operating costs tend to vary depending on the region.
The cost difference usually isn’t significant, but the operating costs are typically different enough to be considered a deciding factor for most consumers.
Factor 2: Energy Efficiency
While gas stoves are cheaper to operate, electric stoves are much more energy-efficient.
Only 46% of the energy produced by a gas range is transferred to food, while about 74% of energy is transferred from an electric range.
Additionally, electric stoves are generally considered safer to use in households.
Although they are not completely risk-free from fires or burns, the risk is considerably less compared to a gas stove.
Factor 3: Maintenance
Electric stoves are easier to clean, particularly those with ceramic or smooth glass cooktops.
Cleaning electric stove coils isn’t much different from cleaning gas stoves with burners and grates, but newer electric models offer a better cleaning advantage.
Do Stove Eyes Wear Out?
Over time, electric stove burners will eventually wear out.
The surface elements are built to withstand extremely high temperatures, but the constant heating and cooling of the element throughout its usage can cause the circuit to short out or become damaged.
Aside from wearing out, there are a few other reasons why your stove eye might not heat up, including:
- A burnt or loose wire connection
- A damaged receptacle
- A defective element switch
Fortunately, surface elements are not costly, and you can easily replace a defective one when it burns out.
How to Replace Electric Stove Eyes
Before attempting to replace a stove burner, make sure to unplug the stove’s power cord or shut off its power supply to avoid electric shocks.
Replacing a conventional coil element is a relatively simple procedure, but accessing a radiant coil can be more complex.
Replacing a Conventional Coil Element
- Lift the coil element to a 40-degree angle and pull it to detach the element’s terminals from the receptacle.
- Ensure that the drip pan is aligned correctly and that the notch in the drip pan is parallel to the receptacle.
- Insert the element’s terminals into the receptacle at a 40-degree angle and lower the element so that the metal support is resting in the drip pan’s notch.
Accessing a Radiant Coil
Accessing a radiant coil involves several steps:
- Disengage the cooktop from the range.
- Release the main top.
- Unfasten the radiant element retaining clips.
- Reassemble the stove top.
Please follow the detailed instructions provided in the reference article for each step to ensure proper replacement and reassembly of the stove top.
The term “eye on the stove” refers to the stovetop burner, which is the metal disc in the wood stovetop. With the decline in wood stoves, the term “stove eye” is less common but not altogether obsolete.
Stove manufacturers like Whirlpool have kept the term alive in modern times, using it as an alternative word for stove burners and coil elements.