Mention solar power to someone and they immediately think of solar panels. A parabolic solar oven, however, has a much more practical use when it comes to feeding ourselves.
Parabolic Solar Oven
While searching for ways to reduce the use of nonrenewable resources, you might encounter solar power. Solar power, or solar energy, is the use of the sun's rays to either create energy (electricity), charge a battery, heat water or other fluids, passively heat homes through glass windows, or even cook foods.
When solar power is used to cook food it's often in the form of a solar oven, which can be used in place of firewood and other fuels in order to cook meals. One popular type of solar oven is the parabolic solar oven, used over others for many reasons.
A parabolic solar oven collects the sun's rays by using a reflective surface in a parabola, or curved shape. There are many different styles of parabolic solar ovens available, and there are instructions available to create most of them. The parabolic style allows for food to cook at much the same rate as a conventional oven, making it more convenient than other outdoor cooking methods such as campfires. Additionally, since the parabolic solar oven doesn't use wood or other fuel, it's quicker to start cooking and requires little time to set up - whereas with a campfire, you've got to spend time hunting for firewood, as well as lighting the fire and waiting for it to get hot.
One easy way to start building your own parabolic solar oven is by using a ready-made satellite dish (of course, use one that someone has discarded). Its parabolic shape is perfect for creating the oven, and all you need to do is coat the inside with a reflective substance, such as a mirror finish reflective aluminum sheet. Other people prefer to start their parabolic solar oven with more of a bowl shape, as they believe this allows food inside to cook better and helps to shelter the food from the wind.
Once you have the parabolic solar oven, you need to consider the cooking pot. The pot needs to be of a dark color. It also needs to be placed in the correct position. The parabolic solar oven should be oriented to the sun. The pot should then be placed on a small stand so that it sits at the point of focus for the oven. If you imagine a magnifying glass, the pot should be located where the glass focuses its beam. Once in position, the oven should work for 60 to 90 minutes. If the food is not cooked by then or another pot needs heating, the oven should be readjusted to the orientation of the sun.
When using your parabolic solar oven, be sure to always wear UV (ultraviolet) protective sunglasses that are darkly tinted. The reflection off the aluminum that helps to cook the food at a quick rate also can burn your retinas quite easily. You'll also want to make sure to cover your parabolic solar oven whenever it's not in use - this will prevent accidental flashes of light from blinding people as well as prevent the oven from heating up when it's not needed. If you follow these simple steps, having your own parabolic solar cooker can be a great asset to your environmentally conscious lifestyle.
'Big D' Danny Raposo
President of Big D's House of Munch
& Food Writer
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