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.

Solar Cooking

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. People are using solar power a lot more now, not just for cooking. Since you can get solar panels pretty easily from places like, it’s becoming more common for people to have some installed. But also for actually providing electricity to their house through solar panels. Other people have even taken to using things like these AGM Solar Batteries to help make the most of the solar energy.

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. The best 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.

Cardboard box solar oven cooking food

A simple solar oven built from a cardboard box

Materials List for Building the Cardboard Box Solar Oven in the Video:

  • 2 Cardboard boxes (one that fits inside the other one)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Glue
  • 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!

Portable Parabolic Cooker that uses the suns power to cook food.

This is the ECO-WORTHY Portable Parabolic Cooker. Not bad for $120.

Make your comments or questions below.