Build a Solar Oven

Cook your food by the light of the sun. What could be more back-to-the-earth and off-the-grid than that? If you are into green living you don’t need me to tell you all the un-green things about stoves and ovens, gas and electric alike. But you may need me to offer you an alternative. So here it is – the simple homemade solar oven or box cooker that you can make for under 10 dollars.

Your list of materials:

2 cardboard boxes of two different sizes (more on this in a sec)
4 flat pieces of cardboard (2′-3′ square or rectangular)
scrap cardboard
1 small, 18″ wide roll of aluminum foil
1 piece double-strength glass (more on this in a sec too)
white paper glue
black pan
Now, about those boxes – one of them should be able to fit inside the other one with 2 to 3 inches of space all around. And about that glass – it should be half-an-inch longer and half-an-inch wider than your smaller cardboard box.

A solar oven is made up of two parts: the oven itself and a solar collector.

To make the oven:

Paint the inside of your smaller box black.

Cut up your cardboard scrap into pieces and line the bottom of the larger box with a layer of scrap thick enough so that when you place the smaller box inside the larger one, the smaller one’s lip rests about one inch below the larger one’s lip.

Once you’ve got your scrap layer sized right, take that smaller box out for a second so you can fold in the larger boxes flaps. Then place the smaller box inside. Cut up however much more scrap you need to stuff in around the sides of the smaller box so that you’ve got it wedged in there good.

The glass should make a nice seal when placed on top of the oven, with enough of a lip that your finger can hook under it to raise and lower the glass as needed.

To make the solar collector:

Take the 4 flat pieces of cardboard (don’t use double-strength) and cut them out in the shape of an anvil (like the kind the Road Runner drops on Wile E. Coyote’s head all the time). Glue these to the upper, outer rim of your solar oven so that the pieces join together in an overturned lampshade sort of shape. (To do this, glue the shorter of the two parallel sides of each flap to the upper, outer rim of the larger cardboard box. Then glue the angled edges to one another.)

Glue aluminum foil to the upward facing sides of these 4 flaps.

And you’re done!

To use the oven, simply place the food you want cooked inside it and sit the unit out under the sun until sufficiently cooked. Then eat and enjoy your – gas and electricity free!