Did you know that food can be cooked with the sun? For Earth Day 2016, here’s an introduction to environmental friendly solar cooking. Bon appetit.


Sun oven with reflectors open - Bruce Witzel photo


Reflectors are opened like petals on a flower, to collect and focus sunlight. The glass cover will trap heat inside the oven and pots.

You’ll understand this better by remembering how hot your car can get if it is parked in the sun.


Preparing a solar meal in a black pot - bruce witzel photo


With solar ovens it’s always best to cook with less liquid than traditional ovens because sun ovens operate in slightly lower temperature ranges. Also, it is best to use black cookware that will absorb the sunlight. An exception to this rule is parabolic solar cookers which are exceptionally hot.









Here are a few different solar cookers we have used over the years.


Solar cooking at Fran's old apartment at Universtiy of Victoria - Bruce Witzel photo



Homebuilt solar oven - by Bruce Witzel -2




My first solar oven, circa 1979 - bruce witzel photo


Our more traditional crock pot is used for cloudy days, and yet it works from stored solar electricity.


Traditonal electric crock pot - bruce witzel photo


This brilliant model designed in India is a solar electric plug-in hybrid. An electric heating element comes on if the sun goes behind the clouds.


Solar Electric Hybrid Cooker - bruce witzel photo 



In many sun rich areas of the world solar cooking helps women avoid breathing smoke from cook fires and saves money. The sun cookers also help save trees and the earth’s delicate ecology.


Care and Support Network November 2012 - courtesy Womens Engineers of Mali

This parabolic solar cooker was developed in part, by the Women’s Engineers of Mali.


Patricia McArdle, former US diplomat and a technical advisor to Solar Cookers International (SCI) is an advocate of sustainable, renewable energy, and a global promoter of integrated solar thermal cooking technology. This photo  taken near New Delhi, India (used courtesy of SCI.) illustrates the simplicity and elegance of a solar panel cooker.


Solar_cooking_in_Nepal - photo courtesy of  Solar Cookers International


What about this innovative idea for a built-in solar kitchen?




Jack Lund of Kyoto Twist Solar Cooking Society at earth day event - bruce witzel photo (b&w)



As surely as the sun arises, may the fog on our consciousness lift. Come on world… let’s have a full scale embrace of all the solar solutions and let’s get on with solar cooking.

Along with saving the planet from more massive climate change events, a small bonus will be that people who use propane barbecues won’t have to change cylinders all the time.

Put that in your barbecue and smoke it!


A good solar cooking  day as the fog lifts - bruce witzel photo


Cheers, and have happy earth day – every day.




 Dinner & Earth Prompt  


  1. Whenever the sun gets high enough we will use the Sun Oven that we bought in 2006. It’s very versatile and there’s a bunch of ‘how to’ information on the website. I tried building a parabolic one but something wasn’t right on it…plus we get too much rain on the Oregon Coast.
    Thanks for highlighting all those different designs. It was interesting to see so many of them.

    • Ah … the Oregon coast. We are 50 miles inland from the BC west coast, and I am always amazed when I leave the lake when it’s sunny and warm here, and find a fog and chill when we get to the coast.We have ideal southern solar exposure so we’ve already cooked a few meals in the oven since March. Once I baked a chicken in January which amazed me. Good for you for your solar cooking and thanks for sharing your experience.

      • Now that I know a person from British Columbia, you have to tell me about your carbon tax. Because of a Tesla fund raising raffle, I’ve been following the efforts of the State of Massachusetts in trying to pass a carbon tax based on the BC model, which I understand has been on the books since 2008. They will put a fee on companies that sell gasoline and heating oil. Those companies will in turn, pass the costs onto the customers, then the state pays “households and businesses” a rebate. Every year the carbon tax goes up a little. People who cut back on their fuel needs by insulating their house or driving a more efficient car will come out ahead. Is that working well?

      • The short answer is YES! I did a whole post about our Carbon Tax, and here’s the link Pat…

        In BC it is actually called the Carbon Tax Shift, which is a far better and fairer description, but popular lexicon dropped the ‘Shift’ part… James Hansen prefers to call it a Carbon Fee & Dividend because of the unfortunate mass paranoia in Canada and US about “taxes”. I think these nuances are lost on the average “Joe 6 pack” (to borrow Sarah Palin’s rather odd term of endearment) …. I digress.

        Your description of the Massachusetts efforts towards pricing GHG’s seem close to BC’s except my understanding is that in BC we have taxed all fossil fuels with exception to part of our agricultural sector – greenhouse growers that use natural gas to be specific. I’m not completely certain about this detail though. In my view the Carbon Fee & Dividend is a much better system than Cap and Trade, which is more prone to the ups and downs of the marketplace. Many experts say it can and has been easily manipulated.

        Over all, many of us British Columbians are proud of the Carbon Tax Shift, and since implementation we have achieved an amazing 16% reduction in our CO2 and other equivalent GHG Emissions. Unfortunately the government halted the $5.00/ton annual increase at $30/ton, which I believe is a big mistake. My complete post is more useful in that it goes into details – 5 Points on Pricing Carbon – including the part about the Carbon rebate that you refer to.

        Good luck to Massachusetts, and you in Oregon too. On a personal note Pat, cheers to your good work with those pollinators.

        In peace and solidarity – Bruce

  2. so wonderful to see
    your solar cooking, Bruce!
    they use these often at Deer Park monastery.
    i’m gonna get one together for this sunny
    part of the year
    along with a nice pair of shades 🙂

    • Yes, I can totally visualize Deer Park Monastery with solar ovens, and you too David. But what I can’t visualize is you with the shades. Of course this reveals my preconceived notions of people with shades… shades are really a great thing to keep bright sunlight from our eyes.

    • I appreciate the question. China is a leader here… I did research 10 years ago (or so)… then they were using 100’s of thousands of active solar cookers. They’re catching on in pockets around the world, countries like Nepal, Bolivia, Mali, India, etc. By the way – India has the worlds largest Solar Cooker that feeds 1000`s of people… large mirrors focus the sun to do the cooking. I believe solar cooking will catch on like the small scale (50 watt) village PV is now doing, and indeed solar big and small, everywhere. Sacramento also promotes Solar Cooking through their municipal utility SMUD, and the city is the headquarters of Solar Cooking International, the world`s umbrella organization for all Solar Cooking NGO`s. I dream of the day solar cookers replace the propane barbecues that proliferate the overdeveloped world. Thanks for your interest and good work at 100 givers.

  3. Pingback: Solar Cookers for Earth Day and Every Day - Hundredgivers

    • Yes, it is for many people Judy. Over the years I have participated in many “showings’ of the solar cookers, and people are most often fascinated & amazed… to a lesser degree, some are in a sort of suspended disbelief. 🙂 Solar cookers really do work!

      • I kind of wanted to thump the heel of my hand on my forehead and say, “Dummy!” I mean it is so obvious, and perhaps on a desert island it would have occurred to me..

  4. Pingback: SOLAR COOKERS ON EARTH DAY. – by Rosaliene Bacchus | Guyanese Online

    • Your welcome Rosaline. There are simpler designs that can be built with re-purposed cardboard boxes, pizza containers, corn husks etc. Even using a bit of reused aluminum foil for reflectors and a plastic oven bag around a pot works and because of its low cost it is quite commonly used in many refugee camps. Thank you for sharing this, too.

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