Induction heating is the process of heating an electrically conducting object (usually a metal) by electromagnetic induction, through heat generated in the object by eddy currents. An induction heater consists of an electromagnet, and an electronic oscillator that passes a high-frequency alternating current (AC) through the electromagnet. The rapidly alternating magnetic field penetrates the object, generating electric currents inside the conductor called eddy currents. The eddy currents flowing through the resistance of the material heat it by Joule heating. In ferromagnetic (and ferrimagnetic) materials like iron, heat may also be generated by magnetic hysteresis losses. The frequency of current used depends on the object size, material type, coupling (between the work coil and the object to be heated) and the penetration depth.
An important feature of the induction heating process is that the heat is generated inside the object itself, instead of by an external heat source via heat conduction. Thus objects can be heated very rapidly. In addition there need not be any external contact, which can be important where contamination is an issue. Induction heating is used in many industrial processes, such as heat treatment in metallurgy, Czochralski crystal growth and zone refining used in the semiconductor industry, and to melt refractory metals which require very high temperatures. It is also used in induction cooktops for heating containers of food; this is called induction cooking.