Using an Infrared Thermometer

Most people know about using a kitchen thermometer to determine the internal temperature of meats and other foods. Using an infrared thermometer is all about determining surface temperature.

An infrared thermometer, as defined by Dr. Kiki Sanford for Food Science, has an optical sensor that when pointed at a surface, “reads the black body radiation that’s emitted from the object in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum,” which is slightly longer than the red wavelength, which is the longest wavelength that can be detected with the human eye.

With cooking, it’s sometimes necessary to heat a cooking surface to a specific temperature.Such a thermometer can help you determine when a griddle, for instance, is at the correct temperature for frying bacon or cooking a grilled cheese sandwich. It can also let you know when your oven has reached the right temperature for baking a cake or cooking a casserole. Another household use for a laser thermometer is checking an electrical circuit breaker or outlet for hot spots. Infrared thermometers can be used for checking body temperature, too. Some of them are also known as laser thermometers because they use a laser to help you guide the sensor.

Infrared thermometers come in a wide variety of styles and range in price from approximately $30 to more than $250. You can buy them online, in home improvement stores or in discount department stores.

Although the kitchen is, probably, the most common place where you would use one in your home, it’s not the only place where such a device comes in handy.