History of solar cooking
Ancient Greeks, Romans and Chinese experiment with the use of curved mirrors that could be angled toward the sun and cause objects to burst into flames, for military purposes.
16th century. The Dutch, French and English begin widespread use of greenhouses, which are heated when sunlight passes through glass and becomes trapped inside, to raise tropical plants.
1767. Swiss scientist Horace de Saussure develops a solar cooker using the greenhouse effect, in the form of several glass boxes set inside one another and placed on a dark surface.
19th century. French mathematician Augustin Mouchot uses curved mirrors to angle the sun’s rays into an insulated box that traps heat.
1894. A restaurant in China serves solar-cooked food.
1950s. Maria Telkes of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology develops the present-day box solar cooker, an insulated, glass-topped box with four reflectors to direct light into the box. The United Nations and other agencies begin studying how to bring solar cooking to countries where fuel is scarce; early programs do not take off.
1973. The first solar cooking convention is held in China, where solar cooking has become widespread.
1992. China reports the use of 100,000 solar box cookers.
A tool for the developing world
Over 2 billion people, a third of the world’s population, rely on wood-fueled fires to cook food. Of these people, around 500 million frequently encounter fuel shortages yet live in ideal climates for solar cooking, says Kevin Porter of Solar Cookers International (SCI) in Sacramento.
Many women, especially refugees, trek miles to obtain cooking fuel, and the reliance on wood for fuel has led to deforestation in many areas.
- Solar Oven Emergency Package Deal through
- June 20, 2012
- $360 to 48 States/FedEx
- Hawaii $400 3-5 days delivery, Priority USPS/shipping included
SCI and other organizations help impoverished communities gain access to solar ovens to cook food, pasteurize water and sterilize medical equipment. Since 1995, SCI has taught 30,000 families in eastern and southern Africa how to use solar ovens and has helped establish solar businesses in refugee communities.
The majority of funding comes from individual donors; to donate or learn more, visit solarcookers.org.