Solar oven

Kids aren’t the only ones that get to make fun projects in the name of science. You can easily put together a solar oven out of cardboard. Using the sun’s energy to cook saves money and resources and can be used anywhere that you get direct sunlight during peak hours. It can even work on slightly overcast days.

This simple solar oven can be made with a reused pizza box—and is a great way to reheat those leftover slices. It’s easy to put together and is a great intro to solar cooking. Take it with you camping—or even to the beach. Once you’ve decided that solar cooking is for you, there are more complex solar ovens you can build yourself or purchase. There are even solar stovetops. You’ll ditch the microwave for good and have fun cooking with the sun’s energy.

What you Need

Cardboard pizza box

Aluminum foil

Plastic wrap

Black spray paint or black construction paper

Razor knife

Scissors

Newspaper

Chopstick or branch

What you Do

Cut a flap inside the lid of the pizza box leaving about one inch between the sides of the flap and the edge of the box. Fold out so it stands up when lid is closed.

Cover the flap with aluminum foil.

From inside the box, tape plastic wrap to the opening where the flap is. Tape should go on the inside.

Spray paint the inside of the box black or line with black construction paper.

Roll up newspaper and tape inside the box around the sides for insulation.

How to Use It

Use your over during peak sun hours: 11 am – 4 pm.

Adjust the box so the foil on your flap is reflecting the most sun. The temperature in your solar oven should reach about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place food under the plastic wrap flap opening inside the box.

Prop up the flap with chopstick or tree branch so it’s open and can collect the sun’s rays.

Re-heat leftovers or pre-cooked food items in your solar oven instead of the microwave, or if you’re patient, try baking a potato, roasting vegetables or even make a grilled cheese sandwich. 

For best results, let the oven warm up for an hour before putting your food into it. Make sure to reposition the oven as the sun moves so that the light continues to reflect off of the foiled flap. And rotate your food so that it cooks evenly.

As with a regular oven, use safety precautions when removing hot food.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: rabanito