Museum of Science and Industry

Cook Food Using the Sun

Step 1 of 8:

Here's the Materials You'll Need:

Empty pizza box
Aluminum foil
Plastic wrap
Pen or pencil
Scissors or utility knife
Paper plate
Chocolate or marshmallows
Graham crackers
Thermometer (optional)

Safety note: The solar oven can get very hot. Use caution when handling.

Step 2 of 8:

Draw a square around the lid of the pizza box about 2 inches away from the sides. Cut along three of the lines -- on the sides and front edge of the box -- leaving the fourth line along the box's back hinge uncut.

Step 3 of 8:

Fold back the square flap. Cut a piece of foil to completely cover the flap. Tape it to the part of the flap that faces downward into the box, shiny side out. Make sure you press all the wrinkles out.

Step 4 of 8:

Cut enough foil to cover all inside surfaces of the pizza box, both the bottom and the sides. Place the foil shiny side facing out and overlap the seams. Tape into place.

Step 5 of 8:

Cut a piece of plastic wrap to cover the hole that the flap made in the box lid. Hint: Before cutting the plastic wrap, tape one end of it to the box lid and stretch it across so it covers the hole. Tape the plastic to the pizza box lid, sealing it tightly so no air can get out. Cut the wrap and finish taping it down.

Step 6 of 8:

Place graham crackers and chocolate (or marshmallows) on top of the paper plate and place inside the cooker. You can try making different kinds of food, like a grilled cheese sandwich.

Step 7 of 8:

Close the lid of the pizza box. Fold back the flap and prop it open with a ruler or stick. Place the box outside, with the flap facing the sun. The sun should reflect off the flap and into the box. Let the food cook until it's done, which may take 30 minutes to an hour. If you'd lke, you can place a thermometer inside the box and measure the temperature every 10 minutes to see how hot it gets. Enjoy your snack when it's ready!

Safety note: The solar oven can get very hot. Use caution when handling.

Step 8 of 8:

The solar oven has a reflector that takes the light energy from the sun and concentrates it towards the baking chamber. The sun's rays are collected by the aluminum foil flap and concentrated on a single point inside the box. The rays are converted into heat energy. When an object such as chocolate or a hot dog is placed inside the box, it heats up and cooks.

This solar oven lets you cook anything that can be prepared in a conventional oven or stovetop. It can reach temperatures of 275 degrees - hot enough to cook food and kill germs in water. A general rule for cooking in a solar oven is to get the food in early and don't worry about overcooking. Expect cooking time to take about twice as long as conventional methods, and allow about half an hour for the solar oven to preheat.

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