How to Make Solar Ovens from a Pizza Box

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Use sunshine to cook food in a solar oven.
Use sunshine to cook food in a solar oven. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

A solar oven is a great way to cook food without using fossil fuels, and solar ovens are approved for use in camping areas where campfires are not allowed. You can make a solar oven from a pizza box to demonstrate solar power to children. The pizza box solar oven is the most basic form of solar oven.

Things You'll Need

  • Pizza box
  • Box cutter
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap or heavy plastic laminate
  • Electrical tape
  • Black construction paper
  • Dowel or stick

Prepare the top. Draw a square on the top of the box with edges about 1 1/2 inches in from the edges of the box on all sides. It will look like a picture frame. Cut the top of the box along three sides of the drawn square, leaving one side attached. Fold the cut out square flap back along the remaining edge.

Line the flap with aluminum foil on the inside so that the foil will face the interior of the solar oven when it is closed. Bring the foil to the outside and secure with electrical tape. Do not tape inside the box. Electrical tape is recommended because it will stand up to heat.

Line the interior of the solar oven with aluminum foil. Secure the foil with electrical tape. Do not put the tape inside of the box, wrap the foil over the edges of the box and secure on the outside. Do this to keep the interior of your solar oven reflective.

Cut a piece of plastic wrap or heavy plastic laminate larger than the hole in the top of the box. Plastic wrap will suffice if you are only going to use the oven once or twice. Tape the plastic to the inside of the top of the box, making sure it is sealed to prevent the heat from escaping.

Close the solar oven. Place plastic wrap over the hole in the top and secure with electrical tape.

Line the bottom of the box with black construction paper. The interior of solar ovens are usually black because it absorbs heat.

Form additional aluminum foil into a holder for the food to be cooked, or use aluminum pie plates or shallow dark containers.

Place the food you want to cook in the solar oven. Close the solar oven and place it in direct sunlight. Lift the top flap and prop it open with a dowel or stick. Adjust the flap to capture the most sunlight and reflect it into your pizza box solar oven. The reflected sunlight will provide the heat and cook the food. Hot dogs are an ideal way to start cooking in solar ovens. You can watch things cook through the clear plastic top.

Tips & Warnings

  • Your solar oven will reach about 200 degrees F. when it is sunny.
  • To maximize the heat solar ovens from a pizza box, cook in a shallow dark colored pan.
  • Items cooked in solar ovens will be hot. Use oven mitts to remove food.
  • Do not let children cook with the pizza box solar oven unsupervised.

References

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