How to Make a Solar Oven

Learn how to make a solar oven that works beautifully, is built to last, and costs less than a purchased solar cooker.

| October 2011 Web

The following is an excerpt from "DIY Solar Projects" by Eric Smith (Creative Publishing, 2011). 

Solar ovens are simple devices that capture heat from the sun with a reflective surface that’s angled or curved towards a cooking pot. Because they can be easily made from cheap materials like scrap cardboard and tinfoil, they are widely used in areas of the world where trees and fossil fuel are scarce or expensive. Once made, they can be used to cook food and boil water in a reasonable amount of time for absolutely no cost.

There are dozens of possible designs; some angle the rays down into a small center area, while others focus the rays upward toward the underside of a pot, like a reversed magnifying glass. You can also buy portable solar ovens assembled from polished metal online—they’re great equipment for camping. But if you’re serious about integrating free fuel from the sun into your cooking, the plan below features a solar oven that works beautifully and is also built to last. Plus, you can build it for a fraction of the cost of a purchased solar cooker.

Depending on variables like location, ambient air temperature and the angle of the sun, a solar oven can reach temperatures above boiling (212° F). In ideal conditions, some types can reach 300° or more. This temperature range is high enough that you can safely cook any food, including meat. Cooking times are longer, but because the temperature is lower there’s little danger of overcooking, and the food is delicious.

Solar Oven Types

Solar cookers can be made in a wide variety of designs. The main criteria is that they have a reflective side or sides that focus sunlight toward a heat-absorbing (usually black) pot or base.

Made from cardboard and aluminum foil, this solar cooker is still capable of heating food almost to boiling. Variations of this basic design are widely used in poor areas of the world that have abundant sunlight but limited fuel; their use helps preserve dwindling forests.

Judith Haworth
2/13/2013 3:51:04 PM

I was going to compile home cleaning recipes for my kids and grandkids, but you may have already covered this topic! Thanks, Judi

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