Can I use Cast Iron on/in a Solar Cooker?
by Nathan Parry
(St. George, Utah)
Cast Iron being cured on the Solar Flame
We get asked this question a lot, I guess because so many people have cast iron cookware or Dutch Ovens, and they automatically think that because cast iron is an efficient heat distributor and retainer that it would work well with a solar cooker. And it can work well in a solar cooker, but it should not be the cookware of choice for most solar cooking applications.
It is true that cast iron retains heat longer and better than a lot of cookware due to its physical properties, but those same physical properties do not always make cast iron
the best choice for solar cooking because it can take much longer for cast iron to heat up as opposed to the more popular and common solar cooking cookware; enamelware or graniteware.
Many times when one chooses to solar cook they often find that time is of an essence, due perhaps to the conditions of the day and as well as the time of the day that one may start their solar cooking. And if one is limited in time and the conditions are not ideal, it would not be beneficial to the cooking process to have a slow heating cast iron pot.
On the other hand, enamelware is thin, quick heating and transfers the heat more rapidly to the food inside of the pot/pan.
Now, If you have a long day with ideal, sunny conditions and time is not a concern, then by all means, use cast iron in your solar cooker and it will cook just fine.
On a parabolic cooker cast iron will do fine as well because the heat produced by the parabolic is much greater and it will cook as quick as your stove top will.
In fact you may find that you still might want to add a steel plate or such to help diffuse the heat that your cast iron is receiving.
...I use my solar parabolic cookers to cure my cast iron as well since it can heat the cookware very quickly and maintain the hot temps for a good period of time...and it keeps the smell of burning oil outside.