More on low-cost solar cookers

Jim Whitehead (
Sun, 17 Oct 1999 17:41:17 -0700

Long-time FoRKs will recall my post on how to construct a parabolic solar
cooker using low-cost materials. Recently, I received a flyer in the mail
from Solar Cookers International, a Sacramento, California based charity
that is acting to promote low-cost solar cooking gear.

My interest in the subject is due to two reasons. First, since I'm concerned
about global warming, any technology that reduces greenhouse gas emissions
is a plus. Second, for many poor people in the world, it's difficult and
time-consuming for them to get cooking fuel, and the fuel they can get
throws off a lot of unhealthy particulates. In sunny, warm places of the
world (Africa, for example), solar cooking can significantly ameliorate
these problems, and be cheap enough to be usable for pastuerizing drinking
water. Did I mention cheap? For under $2 of cardboard, aluminum foil, and
black paint, a decent solar cooker can be made.

Solar Cookers International sponsors the Solar Cooking Archive on the World
Wide Web at where you will find illustrated
construction plans, photographs, documents, and an international directory
of solar cooking promoters.

In particular, I liked:

The solar cooking FAQ, at:
Interestingly, makes the case that parabolic cookers are not the best
technology for cooking, and recommends "panel cookers" which cook more
slowly, but at a more even heat, and hence do not require constant
supervision. The ability to "fire and forget" and the simplicity of use (to
constant turning to keep sunlight focused on the pot) overtakes the faster
cooking capability of the parabolic cookers.

The plans page:
(has lots of pictures)

I also liked the country reports on the documents page:
For example, this story on trying to introduce solar cooking in Mali is
It discusses that one of the local staple dishes, toh, is made by adding
flour to boiling water. This is very difficult in a solar box cooker of the
style the author introduced, since it has a glass top, and the food is
introduced through the side.

Solar Cookers International accepts donations, of course, although I was
hard pressed to find out how to become a member or donate money from their
Web site. Contact information is listed here:, including a list of officers and
directors of the organization. Interestingly, there is a Robert Metcalf,
Ph.D., listed as treasurer. Could this be "the" Bob Metcalf?

- Jim