Introduction: SOLAR OVEN

About: I was born in the Chicago, Illinois and spent my formative years in a small community known as Wonder Lake. I moved to Greers Ferry. Arkansas while I was in high school. I joined the Navy as a Photographer a...

SOLAR OVEN that is quick, easy and FREE!!!

I am a packrat at heart and I am always looking at ways to make things from stuff and junk I have accumulated. I have been interested in trying to make a solar oven for a while.
We got a shipment in today that had perishable items and the box was lined with 1 think Styrofoam sheets. When I opened one of the box I realized that I was already on the way to making a solar oven. This is a very easy construct and with junk on hand the cost is ZERO. If you collect junk like I do you should be able to build this solar oven in less than an hour and still come up with good results.

Step 1: Parts and Tools


1 insulated cardboard box (BOX A)
1 cardboard box (small enough to fit inside first box snuggly) (BOX B)
1 cardboard box/cap to fit over BOX A (BOX C)
1 piece of glass – this came from a free scanner that was obtained for free off of craigslist.
Tape (shipping or duct tape)
Black spray paint
Clear plastic bag (zipper bag or twist tie)
Black or dark pot (small enough to fit within BOX B.)


Craft knife
Ruler (optional)
Cutting board (optional)
Pencil, pen or marker

Step 2: Your First Cuts

I resealed the box with tape and then sliced one side off with my craft knife (BOX A). Once I had the side removed I was able to see how large the second box needed to be. I found a box that would fit fine from side to side but it was a little to long. After a little cardboard surgery I was left with a modified box (BOX B).

Remember that anytime you use a knife or other sharp tool to practice responsible use... safety first!

Step 3: Paint It and Stick It...

I spay painted the inside of BOX B to help capture the heat from the sun. Slide BOX B inside of BOX A and there should be a tight fit and you end up with a cardboard/Styrofoam/cardboard wall construction.

Step 4: Keep a Lid on Things

I found a box that would fit over everything and form a lid (BOX C). After rummaging around in my PILE O STUFF & JUNK I came up with a piece of glass that fit inside of BOX C. The glass is actually from an old scanner that was found on Craiglist for free.

Step 5: Staying Within the Lines

I traced the outline of the glass, marked a line inside of that outline and used the craft knife to make a frame/window opening to hold the glass. I would recommend putting a cutting board under BOX C when cutting. If you share your house with someone and you have put cuts on countertops or slices in flooring you only have to make that mistake once and you will never live it down.

Step 6: Window With a View

Once the hole is cut, position the glass and then tape it into place. Put the lid on top of the rest of the build and everything should be ready to cook.

Step 7: Lets Get Cooking

When it is time to prepare you meal try to find a dark container/pot/etc that will fit within the solar over. Put your ingredients in the pot and then put the pot into a clear plastic bag and seal the bag with either the zipper closure or a twist tie.

This will cook similar to a crock-pot and the best hours for cooking are usually around 10am to 3pm. Aim the oven at the sun and forget it. If you are able to monitor the oven you can reposition it through out the day and get a little extra temp out of it.

Get everything ready and load it in the morning and you should be ready to eat later that day.



  • Creative Misuse Contest

    Creative Misuse Contest
  • Oil Contest

    Oil Contest
  • Water Contest

    Water Contest

21 Discussions

Here the sun is not very bright
I have been unable to fully test it
but it made bees wax from rock solid uncuttable to soft pliable putty

Doesn't the tape get hot inside the lid and drop the glass ? Tape is not very heat resistant. I would not rely on the glue to hold up very long. Just an observation. Thanks for the instructable. I am working on a pocket size one right now. There is a lot of variables I have to consider. Many ideas to research too. Everyone has a better way. Maybe a future 'ible .

I used a can that was painted black. I am told that if you use something like a cast iron pot or skillet that it give a more even cooking effect because of the retained heat. I haven't tried that though.

can we use any transparent glass ot its urgent to use scanner glass only...???

1 reply

You can use any glass. I used the scanner glass because it was what I had and I felt confident that it would not easier break.

That is just my patio that shows through the glass. If I photoshop'd them out you would have missed the glass.

I think someone should post an instructable on different solar recipes, like the one tecneeq suggested.

By the way, if someone can prove to me that a solar oven can bake a cake, then it's going straight to the top of my list of things to build.

I like cake...

2 replies

you can def cook cake bread etc using solar one reference is the book sunshine to dollars. the writer shows a lot of things that can be done with solar, and gives results! I will post an instructable about these things soon, you can use box mix just give it enough time and heat

I will agree with you that burning styrofoam does give off toxic gases but I don't have anything in this INSTRUCTABLES about burning styrofoam. Thank you for viewing my INSTRUCTABLES.

I have actually tried one of those full page magnifying sheets, The focal length is usually very specific as to where the focus is. You also have to be careful that you don't focus on the wrong surface because you may just end up with a fire trap instead of a solar oven.

As and aside. for people that want to play with fresnel lenses on a large scale try going thru craiglist or your local freecycle webgroups. Look for large projection screen TVs. The screen cover is one of these lenses. CAUTION... when playing or using one of these lenses be sure to use EYE PROTECTION (welding googles are great), and keep an eye on flammable items in your "WORK AREA". You can use this to burn wood, boil water and with the right set up you can cook things but it is VERY HOT, not the thing I would use to bake bread. AGAIN... in big bold letters CAUTION

I got a question about making the inside even hotter by using those full page magnifying glasses

wayyyyy back when i was a wee one, i remembered discussing making a pizza box oven in 3rd or 4th grade. i had always wondered why it wasn't more popular cause it sounded cool, like an easy bake oven (which my mom wouldn't allow thinking i'd burn down the house)

way cool & clever idea! at first i thought bricks were needed but i figured out the pix. wonder if you can bake a cake??? gotta try this, i like it cause there's no wiring. thanks for the instructables!

I hope you won't be offended, but I'd like to offer a couple of design improvements. 1) A fresnel lens. They usually have ones at RV stores or Auto stores that stick right on a piece of glass. Also they are sold as "sheet magnifiers" for people with poor eyesight. 2) Cardboard is flammable. You might consider a different building material, especially if the plan is to leave this unattended for hours on end. ;)

1 reply

I agree with sdbigguy on this. I wouldn't use a lens nor care about the cardboard. Why did you spraypaint the inside cardbox black? What you want is as much light as possible on the cooking pot. I would use aluminum foil glued to the inner box to reflect as much light and thermal radiation away from the cardboard. The only thing absorbing light and infrared should be the cooking pot. To cook your stuff even faster you could use some cardboard sheets, glue aluminum foil to it, and use them as reflectors to get more light into your box. It made a big difference for me. The problem with the plastic bags i found is that it's just annoying. I use a bunch of big mason jars (i'm not sure it's the right word, a glass jar that is closed with a glass lid using a rubber seal), it's spraypainted black and it's used as it is. No need for a plastic bag. Classic solar recipe: one jar for rice, one for lentils, one smaller jar for a few eggs. I like to add lots of curry and some pineapple to the rice. The lentils can be spiced up with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of vinegar. I add raw veggies after cooking, sometimes also fruit. It's a nutrient rich meal for few cents that is easy to prep. You can't overcook or burn it. And the energy used to cook it is free, wich makes sense in a country where you pay 24 euro cents per kW/h :).