The Scoop on Solar Ovens

Solar ovens are slowly gaining popularity as more than a hard-core survival practice taught to military personnel. They are easy to make and do not require fancy tools or hardware. Even though the solar oven can be constructed out of stuff you've been stepping over in your garage for years, it is not a toy. If built large enough, one can cook an entire meal for a family. In campgrounds where campfires are not allowed, you can combine a useful project for your children during the morning and use it to cook dinner later that afternoon. Just remember that it is not like the oven in your kitchen and requires more time under the sun to do the same job. But, you can bake most items with sunshine that you can bake in your kitchen. What you have to do in order to cook with sunshine is transform that sunshine into heat. That is accomplished by shining sunlight onto dark surfaces. The best color to use to absorb heat is black. It absorbs almost all of the visible light that hits it and reflects very little, if any, but usually needs some enhancement to make enough heat to cook with. You can increase the temperature of your solar oven by using mirrors or any highly reflective surface to shine more sunlight on your black surface. A very simple solar oven can be constructed from a short list of items, most of which you probably already have. You can find step-by-step plans all over the Internet to build any size solar oven. Quite a few will be free for the download. Google "How to build a solar oven" and you will have many choices, some simple and some complicated. For this one, you will need two cardboard boxes, one several inches smaller than the other. They need to nest with several inches of space between them on all sides for the insulation. When you actually build the solar oven, you will crumple up newspaper and use it to insulate the two boxes. Aluminum foil will be used for reflectors. You will need non-toxic glue and invisible tape, plastic wrap or a sturdy plastic bag, a small aluminum cooking pan found in most supermarkets and an oven thermometer. Black construction paper is sufficient to cover the parts of your solar oven you want to hold the heat. Other items you need to keep handy are scissors, pencils, and stapler. Might be a good idea to have a roll of "Duck" Tape handy just for emergencies. The truth is that you can actually build a functional solar oven out of a pizza box. Google that and you'll find the instructions for doing it. While solar this and that and "Going Green" might seem like today's buzz words, our world needs some tending right now and any way you can reduce your dependency on fossil fuels will help your children to live better lives. Think about it!


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