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Let the Sun Cook Your Food
by Carol Cox

Carol Cox with her Solar Oven
Carol Cox and her solar oven.

Did you know that you can cook your food without gas or electricity or firewood? Without stirring the food or heating up the kitchen? Without burning your food or overcooking it? Without contributing to climate change? A solar cooker will do all of that for you.


Using the sun to cook your food is possible because:

  • light falling on a dark surface changes into heat—so the best solar-cooking pots are dark, shallow, and made of thin metal (enamel);
  • light passes through a transparent medium—so a heat trap can be created with a piece of glass or a plastic bag;
  • light falling on a shiny surface is reflected—so reflectors can be used to increase the light directed at the pot, and therefore the heat.

 All sorts of things can be cooked in a solar oven. Rice and other grains cook with the same proportion (or a little less) of water to grain. Root vegetables are cooked (baked) in a covered pot with no water. Beans soaked overnight can be cooked with only a minimal amount of water. Eggs can be hard-boiled (this takes some practice!). Cornbread, muffins, and brownies bake well in a solar oven. Generally, cooking times will be as much as two times longer, maybe more, especially in a cardboard box or panel cooker. And, last but not least, it is possible to can fruit and tomatoes in a solar oven, using no water!


You can make a perfectly effective solar box cooker with two appropriately sized cardboard boxes, crumpled newspaper for insulation, aluminum foil for reflecting light, and a piece of glass to create a heat trap. You can also make a much simpler panel cooker. More-durable faster-cooking solar cookers are available to buy.


The most effective (and the most expensive) manufactured solar cooker is the Sun Oven. It can reach temperatures comparable to a conventional oven and is well made and very durable. The ‘Sport’ Solar Oven is compact, lightweight, and waterproof, and you can cook two pots at a time. The CooKit and the All-Season Solar Cooker are panel cookers that require a high-temperature cooking bag (a turkey bag will do) for a heat trap. The HotPot is a panel cooker that uses a glass bowl for a heat trap, rather than a plastic bag.


Solar Cookers International has lots of useful information at


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