Do It Yourself
Solar Ovens: Cooking on the Bright Side
Bread, beans, rice, casseroles, hot dogs, burgers, desserts, even a whole Thanksgiving turkey…
Would you believe me if I told you that all these things and more can be cooked with only the power and heat of the sun?
Sounds crazy, right? But with a solar oven, it’s possible.
How Do Solar Ovens Work?
A solar oven, (also called a solar cooker or sun oven) uses the heat and energy of direct sunlight to cook food.
Solar ovens rely on four basic concepts to cook food. Once you understand these concepts, you’ll have a good understanding of how solar cooking works and realize that it’s really quite simple.
- Concentrating Sunlight: The solar oven uses a reflective surface (such as a mirror or shiny metal) to attract and concentrate sunlight onto a small surface. This is where the solar oven gets its power.
- Converting Light to Heat: A non-reflective, dark surface inside the solar oven absorbs sunlight to create an environment hot enough to cook food.
- Trapping Heat: An airtight container inside the solar oven traps the heat so that the food can cook. Since the solar oven is so efficient at turning light into heat, it can be used on cold days just as well as hot days.
- The Greenhouse Effect: Have you ever gotten into your car on a cold but sunny day and found that your car was hot inside? This is due to the greenhouse effect, where rays of light shine through a clear surface and are trapped inside and converted to heat. This is the principle that allows plants to grow inside a greenhouse even in winter (hence the name), and it’s what allows the solar oven to cook your food.
Solar ovens come in all shapes, sizes, styles, and price points, but every one of them works by using these four basic concepts.
Benefits of Solar Cooking
At first glance, solar cooking might seem like an old-school, inconvenient way to do things. I mean, isn’t it slow? And why would I want to use a solar oven when I’ve got a real oven and a microwave right in my kitchen?
In fact, there are tons of reasons why you should consider trying a solar oven. For example:
- It’s cheap. Aside from the initial cost of the oven itself, solar cooking is virtually free.
- It’s environmentally friendly. Solar cooking uses a renewable energy source — the sun — and cuts down on energy consumption.
- It’s portable. A solar oven can be used just about anywhere, and most are small enough to be transported easily.
- It’s safe. With a solar oven, you never have to worry about starting a fire or inhaling harmful smoke.
- It’s healthy. Cooking food slowly in more moderate temperatures helps preserve nutrients.
- It’s SHTF-ready. In a power grid failure or other disaster, a solar oven will allow you to still cook meat and other food without electricity.
These are just a few of the benefits provided by a solar oven. To see more, click here.
Homemade vs. Commercial Solar Ovens
Like I said earlier, there are all kinds of solar ovens out there, and you can even make your own. Here’s a great video showing the construction and use of a homemade and commercial solar oven:
Whether commercial or homemade, a solar oven is a must-have survival tool. They’re not just great for camping or cooking outside, they’re vital for survival during a long-term power outage or other SHTF situation.
Editors Note: These ovens are fantastic to have on hand but are hard to come by. I’veIf you want to get your hands on an exclusive package, made just for the Survival Life Community. Please click the link below:
I have a very personal reason for putting this kit together and I want to share it with you.
So please Watch This short presentation and see exactly why solar cooking is so important to me (and why it should be important to you as well)
Please act quickly, I was only able to put a few of these together and I don’t know if I will ever be able to get them again.
Make a DIY Solar Cooker from an Old TV
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September 22, 2014 at 6:48 PM
I have a sun oven and love it. If there is sun I can cook just about anything
September 22, 2014 at 8:48 PM
Don’t know how well these will work during the winter but I’m excited to build one and make some killer pot roasts.
September 23, 2014 at 10:56 AM
I am retired Air Force. While still on active duty I was on a bare base operation in Egypt and made a solar oven out of aluminum foil to heat MRE’s. It only took about five minutes to heat an MRE. I could fold it up and carry it in my pants pocket.
September 23, 2014 at 11:06 AM
ONE CAN ALSO WRAP MOST FOODS SECURELY IN HD FOIL & COOK THEM ON AN ENGINE EXHAUST MANIFOLD & UNDER AN EXHAUST MUFFLER.
September 23, 2014 at 3:15 PM
I have a solar oven, and can cook most anything in it. Really like it. Its nice to know I have it in the event of a crisis. I can even purify water in it. Highly recommend having solar oven.
September 23, 2014 at 8:23 PM
As you might expect, there’s a bit of a learning curve to solar cooking. Try at least a few simple things like pasta, rice dish or maybe lentil soup
September 24, 2014 at 1:01 AM
I have 4 solar ovens. I have cooked with the sun for over 20 years. Ambient temperature has nothing to do with how hot your oven gets. Cooking on a cold day or up north works just as well as here in AZ as long as you track the sun. Cloudy days take much longer.
September 24, 2014 at 1:43 AM
More info from experienced users, please. Is a solar oven just a food warming device? When I get into my closed up car even in the summer, it is not like opening my oven door at home and getting blased by the heat. How hot does it get inside the solar oven, and for how long a duration might the heat last? Has anyone ever cooked meat and put a meat thermometer inside the meat to determine the cooking temperature? Has anyone basically boiled water in a solar oven? What should a person avoid cooking in a solar oven, to avoid harmful bacteria, etc? I think if I tried to cook meat in my closed up car during summer, the meat would brown, dehydrate some, but basically rot faster than if left outdoors (but what do I know? nothing on this subject).
September 24, 2014 at 8:29 AM
I have been drawn into the solar bluff by a salesman who persuaded me to believe in the solar Electric Panel (PV) that according to his sales bullshit – I will received from eight panels I would receive 16 unit (16KW) per day NEVER have I ever received in mid summer received the 16 units power.
Three years after fitting the PV systems I am still not receiving the power that the salesmen promote the get people to buy panels.
I use 11 units per day and using the panels I receive mid summer 6-8 units per day but from September to July I receive a miracle if I receive 1 unit per day. I live in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea which is nearer to the equator than most Americans. I have been screwed out of 8,000 euros to fit the PV system. Whenever I have a power cut I receive zero units
I now find that I have to buy and fit a generator preferably running off gas with a minimum of 14.5 Kw ANOTHER 4,000-6,000 euros
Now solar ovens how can they cook three full meals a day? lets say breakfast when the sun is still low in the sky. Mid day sun is over head but to cook only part of the meal would take so long that evening meal you can forget it?
Please correct me if I am wrong.
September 27, 2014 at 8:31 PM
Planning is what it is all about. Put food in, come back later and eat. Planing.. Like for fun or in an emergency.
September 27, 2014 at 8:24 PM
This is very cool! Think it would be great for camping, all the time, not just when things go wrong
September 28, 2014 at 3:40 AM
What’s all the mystery about this? I’m 67 or so and we built solar ovens and cooked in them in the cub scouts. There is a ton of writing on this, look for it in your library or online, try the Boy Scouts, survival groups, bookstores etc. I’ve seen books on making ovens and solar cookbooks full of recipes.
September 30, 2014 at 1:28 AM
One thing I have always been curious about —
Can adding a Fresnel lens to this setup increase its efficiency? Or would it just concentrate the available heat that can be gathered onto a smaller area?
I suspect the latter may be the case, but don’t remember enough Physics to figure this all out.
Surely someone else would have figured this out if there were some “free lunch” by only adding a very cheap addition to the system.
September 30, 2014 at 1:58 AM
While the solar oven can certainly be very useful in a survival situation, esp. SHTF or EOTWAWKI, the lack of available sun on many days will certainly limit its usefulness, and in many areas & climates it’s going to be only a secondary source of cooking or water purification.
Here in Virginia, especially in the fall or winter, we can go for days with very cloudy, overcast conditions, with rain or snow thrown in, too.
Unless you live somewhere like California, or Arizona, I would strongly suggest that someone get very familiar with rocket stoves, and either have a couple already made & tested, or know how to stack together some bricks or cinder blocks to make one (my choice since I have a lot of blocks & bricks sitting around). And, needless to say, a large, waterproof container to keep the fuel in. I have a big Rubbermaid container full of small, dead branches or twigs from our trees (including pine & cedar cones), and a plastic trash container with some bigger dead wood pieces in it. We started keeping these wood stashes as kindling for the wood stove, but found we actually needed very little since in the winter the stove runs 24/7.
I realize that this could be a problem in urban areas, or areas with very few trees, but in the rural area we live in the supply of “small wood” is pretty close to over-abundant and should be more than enough to handle all our cooking needs, though we’ll undoubtedly use the solar ovens whenever possible.
Keep in mind that NOW is the time to start practicing with your solar oven, and with a rocket stove, if that’s your other cooking system. And certainly now is the time to start collecting those little twigs & small pieces of wood in some waterproof container, so that it will be bone dry and light quickly when you need it. Buy the container and start walking around your yard (and your neighbors’ if possible) to collect your fuel — even the tiniest twigs are helpful. After the average windstorm here I walk around the yard with a little wagon, and pick up enough fuel for a couple of weeks worth of cooking, easily.
And my usual reminder — NOW is the time to stock up on a few dozen (at least) Bic disposable lighters, depending on how long you expect the Zombie Apocalypse might last. I know that each of these will do about 60 lights a day for around 30 days, as long as you stick to Bic and not those cheapie Asiatic no-name clones. At a buck apiece, for ~1800 lights, that’s a deal. And the Bic is probably going to be worth its weight in gold as “trade goods” when everyone else runs out of Zippo lighter fluid or matches.
September 30, 2014 at 2:01 PM
One of the men down below in comments mentioned a Rocket Stove. How do you build one? I am building a Solar Oven and look forward to trying it out. Thank you for the information.
October 6, 2014 at 11:55 PM
Good heads up Smoke hill farm; that was my first thought was using a fresnel lens to speed things up, or cook it by itself 🙂
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