How to Make a Solar Hot Dog Cooker

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The only thing better than cooking a hot dog on a stick over an open fire is cooking one in a solar cooker in the backyard. This project is ideal for science fair projects, or simply as an entertaining way to teach children about solar energy. With nothing more than an ordinary cardboard box and some aluminum foil, you can make this simple cooker in a matter of minutes and whip up some delicious dogs to celebrate your accomplishment.

Things You'll Need

  • Cardboard box Aluminum foil Scrap cardboard Poster board Metal skewer/coat hanger Glue Tape
  • Select a long narrow box. A shoe box will do, but something a little longer is even better. Any box between 10 and 20 inches long is fine. Place the open box on a work surface. Mark the center point of the sides to determine the focal point.

  • Measure and mark a point one to two inches below the center point. Draw a curved line from one end of the box through this point and curve back up to the opposite end of the box. Repeat on both sides of the box being careful that both curves are as even and symmetrical as possible. You can create a template from paper to use for both sides. Cut along the line with a utility knife.

  • Measure a section of poster board or thin cardboard to width and length of the box. Curve the section of cardboard to fit snugly against the cut edges and tape in place. Apply white glue to the surface and press aluminum foil over the cardboard. Work carefully and avoid wrinkles. Smooth with your hands as you go. Allow to dry.

  • Cut two pieces of heavy cardboard two inches wide and slightly longer than the height of the box. Tape or glue to the sides of the box at the center point. Punch holes in the cardboard supports and insert a metal skewer or a section of coat hanger between the two supports.

  • Pace a hot dog on the skewer and place in the sun. Turn the hot dog after 2 to 3 minutes to cook evenly. Observe carefully. It may appear as though the nothing is happening, and then suddenly you may observe a sizzle or the hot dog may split open. Remove the hot dog and serve.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use pot holders or oven mitts when removing the hot dog. Always remove any paint from coat hangers before using them to cook hot dogs.
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