Can you cook food with a cardboard box and sunshine? Students at Green Life Academy gave it a shot on beautiful sunny day in Costa Rica. Check out the video below and see how they did it.
The concept of using the sun to heat objects was at least as old as the Greeks. Archimedes is said to have set roman ships on fire with a “burning glass” that may have been an array of mirrors. In addition, cooking food and drying meat with the sun was staple technique for Native Americans. 21st Century “solar ovens” take it to a new level. There are many varieties of solar cookers but the two most common are the box solar oven and the parabolic solar cooker.
Box Solar Oven
These work by capturing the sun’s powerful radiation and directing it into a reflective cooking chamber. Inside the cooking chamber is a dark-colored pot or container that absorbs the heat and transfers it to the food. A well designed solar oven can easily replace a slow-cooker in the right climate. Many are built from wood and use mirrors, reflective metals or foils to direct the sun’s energy. While a cardboard solar oven isn’t durable, it’s functional and makes for an excellent youth project.
Materials List for Building the Cardboard Box Solar Oven in the Video:
- 2 Cardboard boxes (one that fits inside the other one)
- Aluminum foil
- Piece of glass (big enough to cover the smaller box)
- insulation material (clothing, pillow down, insulation, etc)
- Black pot (cast iron works the best)
Parabolic Solar Cookers
Parabolic cookers can achieve higher temperatures, but are more difficult to build. Many designs use old satellite dishes covered in reflective material. Parabolic cookers focus a lot more solar radiation on the cook-pot, making them very powerful. They can boil a gallon water in 15-20 mins on a sunny day. Imagine how much this could help certain areas of the world where water needs to be boiled for consumption. No more collecting firewood!
Here’s a link some parabolic solar cooker plans.
Or you can cheat and buy one!