Using a solar oven is a cost-cutting alternative mode of cooking in more ways than one. For one thing, this environmentally-sound cooker makes use of free energy generated by the sun itself. Also, instead of buying an expensive electric oven, it is much easier, and less costly, to learn how to build a solar oven using the simplest and cheapest of materials.
To build a solar oven, one will need 2 cardboard boxes; one large, the other small. The smaller box should be able to fit into the larger one, having a space of 2” to 3” on all sides. Other materials to be used are crumpled newspapers, aluminum foil, black construction paper, a piece of cardboard, clear plastic wrap, a pencil, non-toxic invisible tape, non-toxic glue, a stapler, and a pair of scissors.
To begin, the bottom of the larger box should be lined with the crumpled newspapers. The small box is then placed into the large one, after which more crumpled newspapers are used in filling the spaces between the 2 boxes’ sides. The sides of the small box’s insides are next lined with aluminum foil. One can either use non-toxic invisible tape or fold the aluminum foil’s edges over the box’s top in order to hold it in position.
The bottom of the small box’s interior is lined with black construction paper. The color of the construction paper is important, because the color black is capable of absorbing heat. Then, place the cardboard piece on top of the larger box and trace the box’s shape on it, adding 2” to the trace line. Cut out the shape, which will be used in making the reflector.
The piece of cardboard is covered with aluminum foil. Make sure that any trace of wrinkle on the foil has been smoothened out, and use either non-toxic tape or glue to fasten the foil securely to the cardboard. With the reflector finished, staple it to the large box’s exterior back side. Position the solar oven in such a manner that the box opening is up while the reflector faces the sun to achieve the highest level of heat possible. Put food inside the solar oven to test how well it cooks. Clear plastic wrap should be stretched across the large box’s top, taping it around the whole box to secure it.
Here are a few more things to consider in building and using a solar oven. If one wants to build a larger solar oven, use even larger-sized boxes. Avoid using materials like Styrofoam or duct tape which can emit toxic fumes once they are heated. The cooking time of a solar oven is around 2 times as long as that of a standard oven, and it takes roughly 30 minutes to preheat. Also, the solar oven should not be used for foods which cook quickly or require to be cooked in high temperatures.