Hot Dog Cooker / Solar Oven

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About: The name Cat’s Science Club comes from my daughter Aly, whom I call Aly Cat. She inspired me to take my love of science, and the fun I have with my students, to as many people as I can. Both my daughters hel...

Intro: Hot Dog Cooker / Solar Oven

This Hot Dog Cooker / Solar Oven is simple and easy to make. We have had it reach temperatures over 170 degrees Fahrenheit on a cloudless 80 degree day. Today is a pretty cloudy low 80s day and the oven still was over 115 degrees.

Step 1: Materials

Materials

  1. Pringles can or other cylindrical container.
  2. Sharp knife, make sure you can handle a sharp object or ask for help. Kids - ask a responsible adult for help.
  3. Straight edge, we used a cut piece of aluminum laying around but a ruler would be good.
  4. Sharpie marker or other marking pen.
  5. Skewer
  6. Hot Glue
  7. Drill / Drill Bit

Optional

Magnet, Plastic Wrap, Tape

Step 2: Procedure

Empty contents. Fat Cat had no problem eating the chips in our cans to "help" us out.

Using a straight edge draw a rectangle on the side of the can. We used this side because there were lines already.

Use your knife to cut the rectangle out. Save this piece for later.

Using your skewer, poke a hole through the plastic lid.

Take skewer out and put plastic lid on to bottom of can.

Mark can where hole should go on the bottom of the can.

Drill hole with drill in bottom of can.

Put skewer through the lid, the center of can, and the bottom hole.

Step 3: Stand

Use the rectangle piece we cut out to make a stand. This will help keep the oven from flipping over.

Take the scrap piece and run a bead of hot glue along the center of the piece. Do not put on the shiny side.

Place the scap piece to the can. Try to make sure that when the solar oven is set down that it will be angled at the sun and not straight up or straight forward. We eyeballed it.

If you want to be exact, use a protractor to determine angle. Different parts of the world get different angles of sunlight and an oven angled properly will get more direct sunlight into the oven causing higher temps.

The stand also allows for different angles. Just rotate the can on its side. Experiment with it and you will see.

Step 4: Extras

We like magnets. So we put a magnet on the bottom of this solar oven. It helps keep it in place and allows for many different angles. We had it hanging on the back of a metal chair out in the yard. Just seemed to be the thing to do lol.

We added plastic wrap to one to keep heat in. We need to experiment to see which oven cooks hotdogs better.

Step 5: Success?

Today was a very humid day and cloudy. When we brought the oven up from the basement, the thermometer read around 70 F after about 10 min it was up over 115 F. Outside temp was 82 F.

I don't know if that was much of a success but I know on a sunny day we had the thermometer reading over 170 F on an 80 F day.

Remember to keep adjusting / moving can as the sun moves.

4 People Made This Project!

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159 Discussions

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brandt e

4 years ago

It heats up great! I used magnets for an adjustable base.

temp_-616369329.jpg
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brandt ebrandt e

Reply 4 years ago

it only got to about 130ºF but I think it can get hotter. I got it so clear by stretching it out with tape

Thanks for making and posting!!

How hot did yours get? How did you get your plastic so clear? That is how it should be. Great idea with the magnet!

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Cats Science Clubtavenl0312

Answer 5 months ago

Today was a very humid day and cloudy. When we
brought the oven up from the basement, the thermometer read around 70 F
after about 10 min it was up over 115 F. Outside temp was 82 F.

I don't know if that was much of a success but I know on a sunny day we had the thermometer reading over 170 F on an 80 F day.

Remember to keep adjusting / moving can as the sun moves.

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Cats Science Clubtavenl0312

Answer 5 months ago

"Today was a very humid day and cloudy. When we
brought the oven up from the basement, the thermometer read around 70 F
after about 10 min it was up over 115 F. Outside temp was 82 F.

I don't know if that was much of a success but I know on a sunny day we had the thermometer reading over 170 F on an 80 F day.

Remember to keep adjusting / moving can as the sun moves."

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JeffJ128

Question 5 months ago

i made a solar cooker and it didnt work what do i do need advice

$1,000,000

1 more answer
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Cats Science ClubJeffJ128

Answer 5 months ago

Could you load a picture? What I have seen with my students is they tend not to aim the opening at the sun. Using the shadow to line up the opening with the sun is one suggestion. I'll have more accurate suggestions when I see it. I hope you get it working.

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meisenbaugh

2 years ago

Sweet! It makes sense on how it works. Imagine even in a zombie apocalypse you can still have a hot dog cooked. In a pinch it's great but if I had too, I'd take large reflective surface materials and build a oven of sorts.

1 reply
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Hannah_2003

Question 6 months ago on Step 1

What can I do about the bottom of the can if I don't have a drill? Would it be effective to hot glue the end of the skewer to the inside of the can? Thanks...

1 more answer
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Cats Science ClubHannah_2003

Answer 6 months ago

Just this past summer crazy cat was doing a camp and did not see that I packed her a "punch" which makes a great starting point. She ended using a push pin and a hammer. It punctured the hole relatively easy. Wiggle the pin around to make hole bigger. A nail will be a bit to big I think. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes if the pin comes flying off. We like to take the skewer half way out to put dogs on easily so I think gluing will not work. Let us know how it goes!

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Shimon - Stan

1 year ago

Nice idea. Have to try it with the grandkids.

I agree with the suggestion of lining it with aluminum foil to get better reflection.

A few suggestions for improvement:

1) Instead of putting the skewer through the center of the can, put it half way between the center and the back of the can (away from the opening. That is where the sunlight is going to focus. So it will get absorbed by the hot dog and turn into heat.

2) Instead of cutting the rectangle out completely, leave it attached along the bottom edge and fold it down so that it reflects more sunlight into the can and heat it up more. It's best to try to adjust the angle to aim the reflected light onto the hot dog.

3) Condensation will always show up when there is a cold surface adjacent to hot moist air. The whole idea is for it to be hot inside and the hot dog will make it moist. It should help to use a double layer of plastic wrap with an air gap between them. Thick double sticky tape is one way to accomplish this.

4) Instead of a skewer use a meat thermometer. That way you'll know the temperature inside the hot dog where it really counts.

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lisac191

1 year ago

I'm doing a day camp with a 100 cub scouts, I would love for them to have their own ovens to each cook a hot dog but something tells me I shouldn't be eating that many pringles... I was wondering it I take a paper cup (think a McDonalds large) basically do the same thing but line it with tin foil and poke the skewer through the lid, that should work right? We're in Texas so we'll easily hit 100 degrees.

1 reply
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Cats Science Clublisac191

Reply 1 year ago

Hi. We did a camp with a bunch of kids. We took the Pringles out of the cans, stored in zip lock bags, and snacked on them for the week. Also, it might be interesting to show the cub scouts how the Pringles chips burn.

I am sure anything that traps the sun light will work to heat up the inside. The Pringles cans have a nice reflective curve that reflects the sun's radiant energy onto the hotdog. In theory it would heat the hotdog faster and more thoroughly. The curve of the cups, being larger at the top, would be a concern.

Any cylinder shape should work with foil. I am not sure with the cups as they are more cone shaped. I hope I helped. Good luck!