Guest Author - Erin Floresca
Perhaps you’re a boondocker who spends oodles of time hanging out in the Arizona desert, drinking in the abundance of available sun. You’re wise at using solar energy to power up your electronics and heat your water. Heck, your favorite drink is sun tea. Have you used the sun to cook any of your meals yet? A rummage through your tool box, coupled with a trip to Wal-Mart to pick up some supplies, and you can make your own handy dandy solar oven. And it only takes about three hours to complete! Not a bad way to spend a lazy afternoon.
• packaging tape
• several toilet paper or paper towel rolls
• box cutter
• 2 large paper clips
• thick wire or wire hanger
• small bottle of Elmer’s glue
• container of water (about ½ cup)
• 50 square feet of aluminum foil
• shredded or crumpled paper
• one oven bag
• medium sized paint or sponge brush
• 2 cardboard boxes measuring 14 in x 14 in x 14 in
• 1 cardboard box measuring 12 in x 12 in x 10½ in
Step 1: Use packaging tape to seal the bottom of the smallest box and the bottom of one of the larger boxes.
Step 2: Mix water and about half of the bottle of glue in empty container. It should be about 2 parts water and 1 part glue.
Step 3: Use paint or sponge brush to apply glue mixture to the inside of the large box.
Step 4: Line the inside of the large box with aluminum foil sheets, dull side down. Make sure to intentionally overlap the sheets by about a ¼ of an inch so that none of the cardboard box is showing beneath. *Ignore the flaps for now!
Step 5: Line the inside and the outside of the smaller box with aluminum foil. *Ignore the flaps for now!
Step 6: Now it’s time to create support pillars for the small box to rest on inside the large box. This will keep the smaller box from crushing the insulation and will also make the boxes even at the top.
Make five 3-inch tall pillars. Cut 1-inch tall flaps on each pillar to make it stable. Glue these pillars on the bottom of the large box. You might want to set some light weight books or magazines on top of these as you are waiting for the glue to dry.
Step 7: Add insulation to the bottom of the box until it reaches the top of the pillars. Set your small box on top of the pillars. Once the box is set in place, insulate each of the four sides.
Step 8: Using your box cutters, remove all the flaps on the smaller box.
Step 9: Trim larger box flaps so that the each flap measures only 2 inches wide. Once you have trimmed the box down, you will want to create a crease in the middle of the flap. You can achieve a nice, even crease by pressing the flap against your ruler.
Step 10: Cut 1 inch x 1 inch squares out of the corners of each flap. Crease the flaps and glue the flaps down. Use the clamps to be sure the glue sets.
Step 11: Now it is time to make the lid. Cut an 18-inch square from the unused box centering over a side panel so that the cuts are made 2 inches outside of the seams. The edges need to fold over to create the lid.
Step 12: Cut three long slits on the lid to create the window. Measure in about 1-inch from the edge of the lid. Don’t cut the fourth side, as this will serve as the reflector.
Step 13: Grab your oven bag and cut a square that measures about 1 inch larger than the window hole. Once you have that cut, tape it tightly to the under side of the lid to make the window.
Step 14: Place the lid on the box and tape the corners to shape the lid. Wrap one longer piece of tape around all of the corners to ensure the lid stays in one piece.
Step 15: Now it’s time to create the reflector. Add a few more squirts of glue to your glue/water mixture and spread the glue on the inner lid flap. Then, line the inner lid with aluminum foil.
Step 16: Glue two small rectangles of cardboard to the lid flap, and the oven to create a support for the wire. This way, you can move the reflector up and down, depending on the angle of the sun. Clamp these down with large paper clips to secure them while the glue dries.
Step 17: Almost done! Just cut about 6 inches of wire and fold down the ends. You can then insert each of these ends into the corrugated spaces on the cardboard.
You did it! You just built your own solar oven!
Note: you can make several drip pans by using scraps of cardboard covered in aluminum foil. Also, I have read that some people prefer to line the bottom of the smaller box with black construction paper to absorb more heat. You can also cook your meal in black cookware.