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Helen Dawson

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Catenary reflector hack backyard solar cooking just for fun!

Solar cooking with mylar foil on cardboard and a big sheet of aluminum foil building insulation.

On the washing line.  Requires a day with no wind or a sheltered location.

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low tech 6 clothes pegs catenary reflector

As we are close to the beach every morning is misty or some cloud cover. I was getting a bit fed up with long cooking times, so rigged up a caserole serving tray to hold pyrex containers with a black ceramic bowl inside.

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hologram mylar gift wrapping stuck on cardboard

Corning pyrex now has flat silicon lids with borosilicate insert, which can form a seal for cooking. This is a flat lid, so it can fit inside solar ovens close to the top glass.  Press down on the rim at the lip to open or close the lid and form a seal.  Very convenient for solar cooking.  Matt black ceramic bowl heats at the top rim first. 

Cooked porridge with ground almonds 1 hour.  Beans 2 hours.  Rice cooking now for dinner at 3pm.

The clothes pegs surprisingly have stayed in place all day.  I raised the lowest point of the sides with some sticky tape just for the time being, and it didn't matter which direction the hills hoist swung after 9am.

So thought I would put up this entirely UNSCIENTIFIC backyard hack solar reflector, with no measurements, and 6 clothes pegs 10 cents, reflector foil  $4. No idea where the focal area was, in the middle somewhere, probably a few cms above where I hung the bowl.  Just threw it together and hoped it would work.  And it did!

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hanging cooking pot over mylar and foil washing line reflector

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beans in a matt black ceramic bowl, sealed into a pyrex container with a silicon lid

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rice cooking in late afternoon sun pegged up catenary reflector on the washing line

Late in the afternoon it is necessary to tether the washing line so its not swinging around, and peg the east side up to keep cooking.

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washing line catenary solar reflector late afternoon sun

Last updated: November 24, 2014      
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Cupcake Solar Cooker set up

Helen Dawson began solar cooking in 1984, and has used various homemade solar cookers. She lives in Karingal, Victoria, Australia and is the designer of the Cupcake Solar Cooker.

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See also


Helen Dawson
6 Lingi Crt
Karingal, Victoria 3199


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