How to Make Solar Cookers

Use a homemade solar oven to bake cookies.
Use a homemade solar oven to bake cookies. (Image: labelreader/

Why use a conventional oven when you can harness the power of the sun? This easy and quick do-it-yourself solar oven will roast your weenies and impress your buddies--all for under $10.

Things You'll Need

  • Two cardboard boxes, different sizes (one 2 to 3 inches smaller than the other)
  • Scrap paper
  • Flat black paint
  • Duct tape
  • Aluminum foil
  • Clear glass, Pyrex or acrylic panel, large enough to cover the smaller box
  • Utility knife or scissors
  • Bricks or rocks
  • Food thermometer

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Check both cardboard boxes for holes or tears. Patch any holes thoroughly with duct tape and paper or cardboard to prevent heat loss while cooking.

Paint the interior of the smaller box black. This will help your oven convert sunlight into heat, raising the internal temperature and cooking your food.

Place one box inside the other. Tear or cut paper into half-inch strips and pack into the gap between the boxes to serve as insulation.

Cover the flaps of the outer box with aluminum foil, using duct tape to hold foil in place. The flaps will become reflectors, focusing sunlight into the oven's interior.

A nearly-completed cardboard solar cooker.
A nearly-completed cardboard solar cooker.

Place food inside the solar cooker, along with a thermometer so you can gauge the temperature.

Cover your oven with a sheet of clear glass or Pyrex. Weight it with bricks or rocks: the added pressure will increase the oven's heat retention.

Place the solar cooker in direct sunlight, and position the "reflector" flaps to focus maximum light toward the interior of the oven. Use duct tape if necessary to secure the flaps into place.

Watch your oven carefully to make sure it reaches a temperature of at least 200 degrees F. If you are cooking food containing raw meat or eggs, be sure to check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid removing the glass cover while food is cooking: if you do, the heat will disperse and your cooking time will increase.
  • This oven is perfect for baking cookies, roasting hot dogs, and preparing other smaller foods. It will work anywhere with direct sunlight; cooking times and temperatures will vary based on weather, season and latitude.
  • This basic oven may not attain the temperatures necessary to fully cook certain foods. Never eat food that has not been fully cooked, no matter how delicious it looks.


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