Thursday, May 21, 2015
For many places in the southwestern United States, the sun gives tremendous heat and energy that most of us simply waste.
Thankfully, more and more people are moving to installing solar panels to generate electricity, but why are we not cooking more with solar energy?
Sure, we may make sun tea and call it good, but cooking with the sun is very simple and the heat source is free.
You can go to Amazon.com and buy the SunCookinator5000ZX for hundreds of dollars, but why waste hundreds of dollars on a thing when you can use very basic and cheap components to build a solar stove, that literally could fit into a bag for bugging out?
Knowing how to cook with the sun in a SHTF moment is an essential skill.
Thus, practicing cooking with the sun is essential to skills building.
As someone living in Southern California, for me it is also essential to find ways not to use electricity. Bakersfield is derided as a hot, dusty hell hole, but the heat of Bakersfield makes solar cooking too sensical not to do.
Tons of plans and videos exist for making a solar stove:
Several caveats go with solar stoves:
(1) Go to Harbor Freight Tools and invest in a welding mask to protect your eyes from solar glare.
Sunglasses are not good enough. The glare from a solar cooker can do instant and permanent damage to your eyesight. NEVER stare directly into the reflection. A welding mask will protect you from glare as well as potential glass shattering from overheating.
(2) Invest in high-heat resistant mitts that go up and past your elbows for handling your cooking dishes.
Removing a cooking vessel from a solar stove means touching a very hot surface. Invest in the high end mitts and definitely NOT the ones at the dollar store. In their seasonal barbecue section, Lowes has extra-long silver mitts that will protect your hands and forearms. Pay for the best.
(3) Cover your skin because the reflected energy that burn skin quickly and you will not be able to feel the burn as it happens.
People who work in the sun on a daily basis know to wear long-sleeved shirts. I would advocate the same with a solar cooker because of the force of the reflective energy of the solar stove device.
(4) Buy only the highest quality tempered-glass cooking dishes because solar cooking can be high heat. Cooking in oven bags is also a smart alternative.
If a cooking vessel is not oven safe, it most decidedly is not solar cooker safe. Many people like to use glass vessels to cook in to maximize the reflective power of the cooking device, but vessels like Dutch ovens are also usable.
(5) Never--and I repeat NEVER--leave your solar cooker unattended and have your fire extinguisher handy.
Would you leave your barbecue unattended just because it’s outside? Vigilance and preparedness for fire brings a safety to the venture of solar cooking.
(6) Pay very close attention to what the reflected energy of your solar stove is also “cooking” i.e. a dry tree or foliage, your house, your car, your children, your animals, etc.
Because a solar cooker is not a toy, but a device that brings with it significant dangers, do not treat it as a novelty. Think beyond your solar cooker and be vigilant about everything that will cross its path.
When you cook with solar device remember that it can be a safe means to cook or a very dangerous mistake.
The same is true of cooking in your kitchen or using your barbecue.
Be a good prepper and bring your responsibility to the table vis a vis solar stoves.
My next challenge? I plan to build a solar stove out of Dollar Tree mirrors.