(Building a homemade solar oven) Repeated failures

by Anonymous
(Anywhere USA)

I was first introduced to solar cooking with a prefabricated solar box cooker, which simply had to be assembled according to instructions. This was made of regular cardboard, with a lightweight plastic window, and a reflector with a stick you used to adjust it to reflect the sun. It was a good size, and I cooked chicken for my lunch, almost daily in the cooker. I loved it. It was fun and saved money. Because of a move, I lost this cooker. If I had it to do over, I would take the cooker and leave the clothes!

Some time later, I tried, unsuccessfully, to buy a similar cooker; they seem to not be in existence. No one sells (cardboard) box cookers; you have to make them. After ample study on the internet, downloading the instructions for the "easy" to make box cookers, I made a first attempt.

The materials I used were cardboard, aluminum foil, glue, and cooking bags. I found it not to be nearly as easy as claimed to form an outer box and inner box from two different boxes. Perhaps it is easy for a person who is used to building things, and is handy with tools. That would not be me. Getting a lid to the right shape I also found trying.

But hours of work finally produced a small box cooker that I had high hopes for. I tested it out in full sun with the oven thermometer. It was a dismal failure. I tried to cook in it anyway. The chicken remained raw after hours. There must be a leak somewhere. It was very difficult to make airtight. I couldn't really find any problem, except that it didn't work.

After some months passed, I decided to try again. I upgraded the cooking bag to a piece of clear plastic on my second attempt, and a piece of glass on the third attempt. Basically I had the same result as the first time. I've now made three box cookers, and not one of them has been successful, even though they looked fine, and seemed to be airtight and insulated, and built according to instructions. I live in a tropical area, so it isn't a matter of not enough sun. :(

I wish I could find another inexpensive prefab that I could assemble, because I really enjoy solar cooking.


Thank you Anon. for sharing your Homemade Solar Cooker experiences with the rest of us.

Sorry it did not work out for you after so many attempts.

I will admit that I am not the greatest at "building" things either, that is why most of my cookers are purchased from a manufacturer.

Maybe there are some "experts" on building homemade cookers that could pass along some of their tried and true advice.

Nathan Parry

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