How to build a DIY solar oven

You can cook a meal even if all you have is the sun
Solar oven
The sun's rays don't just warm your skin. You can collect solar energy in an insulated cardboard "oven" that can get hotter than 200°F. At that temperature, food will take a while to cook, but you can bask in the knowledge that it's cooking with science. At the same time, the DIY solar oven can get hot enough to singe little fingers, so make sure to take safety precautions. Brian Klutch

You don’t need a gas stove to cook a hot meal while you’re out exploring. Lightweight flat-pack materials like cardboard can assemble into an oven that harnesses sunlight for heat. This solar oven, designed by high school student Brandon Spellman, can reach temperatures above 200°F.


  • Time: 2 hours
  • Cost: $30
  • Difficulty: Easy

Tools & Materials

  • Two cardboard boxes
  • Box cutter
  • Silicone adhesive
  • 1-inch-thick foam insulation
  • Black gaffer tape
  • Scissors
  • Eight 1-foot bamboo skewers
  • Aluminum tape
  • Sheets of glass or plastic
  • Oven mitts


  1. Line the inside of one box with adhesive and foam insulation, and cover the insulation with gaffer tape.
  2. Cut duplicates of the first box’s flaps from the second box. Tape the duplicates to the outer edges of the originals, doubling their surface area.
  3. Poke two skewers into each side of the box to prop open the flaps. Adjust their angles for maximum sunlight, using this handy guide.
  4. Cut cardboard triangles to fit in the gaps between the flaps and affix them with gaffer tape. Cover the flaps with aluminum tape.
  5. To cook, lay the glass on the insulation and position the oven to catch the sunlight. It gets hot, so handle with oven mitts when it’s cooking.

This article was originally published in the January/February 2017 issue of Popular Science, under the title “The Sun Stove.”