Solar cookers are cheap, clean, convenient and gentle on the environment. For millions of people living in developing countries, they can also be a life saver.
Even though developing countries use little energy compared to developed regions, 90% of energy usage is for cooking food. Additionally, many are reliant on wood for fuel, something that at the turn of this century was in short supply for 2.4 billion people. So much wood has been used as cooking fuel that many areas have been stripped bare of vegetation. Cooking smoke is also a pervasive killer in developing countries, causing respiratory illness. Water-borne illnesses kill millions each year around the world – and this is another aspect where cheap solar cookers can help.
Solar cookers can be complex beasties or made from carboard and foil for as little as a few bucks, so you can imagine the positive impact that they can have for impoverished peoples
Solar cookers aren’t useful just in developing countries – as long as you have a bit of sunshine and you’re not in a hurry; you can save cash and resources by using one too!
Here’s what the carboard/foil “Cookit” looks like – it’s currently being used in Darfur refugee camps.
If you’d like to grab the plans on how to make this solar cooker, you can view simple instructions here or download more detailed instructions here (PDF 4 megabytes). You can also buy one already made.
A simple solar cooker can achieve temperatures of around 150° C (300° F), but food will cook as if the temperature gets up to about 90° C (200° F) – that is, if you’re not in a rush. Generally speaking, it takes about twice as long to cook as a conventional oven. While solar cookers can bring water to the boil, for the purposes of pastuerization, only 65 degrees celcius is needed – bacteria can’t survive past that for extended periods.
I can’t wait to build a solar cooker and give it a whirl! If you’re looking for more information on this subject, SolarCooking.org is an incredible resource – all you need to know and then some.
Help the Darfur refugees.
As mentioned, the solar cooker above is being used in places like the Darfur refugee camps. For just $30, you can provide solar cookers for three families in developing countries that will change their lives. You’ll enable a family to spend money on food, instead of firewood; provide safer water and decrease respiratory problems. Your donation will have a twofold benefit – decreasing environmental degradation and saving lives. If you can spare the 30 bucks, please donate here.