News Science The Sun Cook Solar Oven: Cooking Without Carbon By Lloyd Alter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Lloyd Alter Published October 09, 2006 Updated October 11, 2018 12:23PM EDT Migrated Image Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices It was the warmest Canadian Thanksgiving that we could remember; up north where we would normally be wearing woollies, we had dinner outside on a dock, red leaves floating on the water around us. The bird was local, free range, organic and wonderful. We discussed environmental issues all night and determined that the five hours cooking the bird created close to 15 pounds of Carbon Dioxide emissions. Perhaps next year we should try cooking in a solar oven like the Sun Cook- they call it " the sustainable replacement for the backyard barbecue". This Portuguese design has polished reflectors which concentrate sunlight in the insulated oven chamber; a metal plate on the bottom absorbs solar energy, and the tempered glass top holds it in. Get this- you time your cooking with a built in sundial. Available from ::Sun Baked Why spend time cooking inside when it’s sunny outside? Preparing food outside in your backyard or in nature is fun and relaxing. Preparing food with renewable solar energy is doubly so, as you get the satisfaction of doing no harm to the environment while you cook healthy food with free solar energy. Climate Change Every time you cook food using electricity, natural gas, propane or wood, you release polluting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. The scientific consensus is that global warming is happening, and that climate disruption is directly linked to atmospheric CO2 from fossil fuel and biomass burning. Solar cooking emits zero CO2 or other greenhouse gasses. It’s the sustainable way to cook. Peak Oil Petroleum geologists all agree that the Earth’s reserves of oil and gas are finite, and that eventually they will reach a point of peak production, then decline. In fact, a scientific consensus is rapidly building that global oil production has peaked, and that natural gas production in North America has already peaked, and is now in decline. Solar cooking uses no fossil fuels, and produces the same results when the sun shines. Health Solar cooked food is healthier and often tastier than food cooked by other means. Nutrients stay in the food, and you never need to worry about burning food. Because there is no smoke, cooks don’t need to worry about inhaling toxic, unhealthy smoke from charcoal barbeques or cook fires. Food doesn’t dry out or burn, like it can when being fried or cooked over an open fire. Solar cooked food is succulent, moist and delicious. Deforestation Global forests are under threat from deforestation. Solar cookers have helped people in the developing world save their remaining forests. Some three billion people rely on firewood for their cook fires. This simply cannot continue if the global environment is to be preserved and human populations sustained. When people in developed countries invest in solar cookers, they can help people in the developing world. Empowering Women and the Poor In many developing nations, families spend a far too large percentage of their incomes on fire wood and charcoal for cook fires. The burden of gathering wood and making charcoal often falls on women, whose health is damaged from smoke, and whose income and time are drained in the quest for fuel. Solar cooking empowers women in developing countries from enslavement to the cook fire, freeing their time for other chores, and improving their physical and financial health. All of these reasons should convince you that the time to buy a solar cooking appliance is now. Solar Cooking Uses Free FuelWhen you cook with electricity, gas, wood or propane, you pay hard earned money for the fuel that you use, while much of the energy in the fuel gets wasted as heat in your kitchen or outside. With solar cooking, your fuel is the free energy of the sun, which has never to our knowledge sent a bill, and never will. If you replace your backyard barbeque with a solar cooker and use it regularly, your cooker will pay its cost back in fuel savings within 3 years. For the remaining 17+ years, you are cooking literally for free.