The decision to make a solar oven is a smart one when you are planning and preparing for World War III, Hurricane Katrina II, Chernobyl times ten, or any other Earth shattering event. Although most people do not like to think about all the what-ifs, it is in your best interest to do so because it can make a huge difference should you ever find yourself faced with a life-threatening situation. You can create this simple device in just a few hours, depending upon your level of artisanship, and when you are finished, the rewards are sure to outweigh the effort.
Whether you want to be cheap or are in a bind, you can make a solar oven with little more than a piece of cardboard, a plastic bag and aluminum foil. Simply cover the cardboard with the foil and adhere it by using a reliable bonding agent, such as glue or tape. Next, fold the cardboard so that it has a back and two sides, the latter of which you can secure by inserting the tips into slits cut into the front of the bottom piece. By creating a sturdy, multi-dimensional structure, you can optimize the amount of light you attract and cook your meal in less time.
Once you mold the cardboard into a box-like shape, put your ingredients in a dark pot, seal it in a plastic bag and leave it in the sun for a few hours. You can use a cooking thermometer to assist you in timing the food but for the most part, the process is similar to a slow cooker. It is also best if you do not stir, poke at or taste the food since this allows all the heat to escape from the plastic bag, thus increasing cooking time.
If possible, try to substitute the plastic bag for a dark glass lid or container big enough to cover your pot and trap in the heat. You could also use a deeper box as opposed to flat cardboard, as this may be sturdier and finding a flat piece of glass to use as a cover is probably simpler than trying to find something fitted. Another modification that might be necessary if you opt to make a solar oven with a larger box is to color it black and line the inside with foil since the high sides could minimize the amount of light attracted to your cooking device.
It may be hard to imagine a simpler technique that allows you to build a solar oven than the one previously mentioned, but an easier design does exist. Simply cut a vertical line through a Pringles can, leaving about three or so inches on each end and pop open the pieces you just cut.
Put your food in the opening, cover it with plastic wrap or a lid, place the container in direct sunlight and wait a couple of hours to enjoy your meal for one. If by chance you forgot to start cooking earlier in the day and you are now starving, insulating the can by covering it with foil or stuffing dark paper around it usually helps speed along the process.
You can make a solar oven by modifying the same simple concept in a number of ways but no matter which method you choose, it is sure to meet your needs. If your goal is to save money, fulfill a desire to go green or prepare for the apocalypse, a sun-powered appliance is your best option. If you are still indecisive, at least try creating a solar oven so you can have fun, brag to your friends and spend a couple of hours in the great outdoors.