How Does Solar Cooking Work?
Uses For Solar Ovens
In addition to cooking and baking almost anything that traditional methods can produce, solar ovens can also be used for many other tasks, including the following:
- Heating water for household chores, bathing, and pasteurizing drinking water
- Canning and drying fruits and vegetables
- Sanitizing dishes, utensils, medical instruments, bandages, and other tools
- Killing insects, larvae, and eggs that live in grains and other dry food staples
- Dyeing fabrics
- Pasteurizing potting soil
- Boiling plant products for paper making
- Extracting beeswax from honey
- De-hulling grains
Who Can Use Solar Ovens?
Much of our emphasis at Solar Oven Reflectors is on people in third world countries using solar ovens due to safety and resource concerns. Solar ovens are also ideal in natural disaster situations or for refugees or relief projects.
Beyond developing world uses, solar ovens have other audiences. Solar ovens can be enjoyed by hobbyists and private citizens, as well as by parents and science teachers looking to engage children in fun cooking projects. Solar ovens are versatile, economical, easy to clean, and produce amazing food - we would encourage everyone to try one, if even in their own backyard.
Solar Cooking—When and Where?
Solar cooking is possible in most countries for at least part of the year. It is most practical for people living in climates that are generally dry and sunny for at least six months of the year. Latitudes between the equator and 40º are usually best.
Good solar cooking depends primarily on the angle of the sun's rays. More direct sunlight for more hours of the day will result in more consistent and quick solar cooking. In less ideal locations for solar cooking, solar ovens can still be used, but the frequency of days allowing for ideal solar cooking conditions will be reduced and the foods will likely take longer to cook. However, it is possible to design solar ovens to compensate for the angle of the sun's rays, tilting or inclining to allow the oven to catch more direct sunlight. Having a variety of different styles of solar ovens available is helpful, as certain styles work better in certain types of sunlight.
Who Can Make Solar Ovens?
Almost anyone can make solar ovens. In fact, that is one of the most important parts of Solar Oven Reflectors' philosophy. We feel that the best way to spread the great benefits of solar cooking is to empower people to build their own ovens.
Local fabrication of solar cookers creates micro-enterprise for craftsmen and shops in developing countries, which leads to less aid needed from other countries and to the many other benefits of locally produced products.
We propose a simplified solar oven design for a durable box oven that can be manufactured using basic sheet metal and woodworking tools, and hobbyist or demonstration ovens can be made even more simply for temporary use.
If just 30,000 small, local sheet metal shops all over the world were manufacturing a few thousand solar ovens a year, within a decade the solar oven needs of the entire world could be met. We at Solar Oven Reflectors are on a mission to help make this possible.
Who Can Distribute Solar Ovens?
While local fabrication of solar ovens is very important, distribution of either local or imported solar ovens is an equally important concern. If ovens are being brought in to supplement local manufacturing, or if resource concerns or natural disaster make local manufacturing impossible, outside organizations can step in to assist with this. Service clubs, mission organizations, and other private and governmental groups interested in making an ongoing difference in the lives of those in third world countries should consider distributing solar ovens or solar oven kits as part of their missions of aid and friendship.