Last updated: 1 July 2016
Standard kitchen aluminum foil works very well as solar cooking reflective material. The most common reflective material used in homemade solar cookers is plain aluminum foil. This can be glued very well with white glue or wheat paste.
Metalized polyester (MPET)
The Haines Solar Cooker uses MPET (metalized polyester) film bonded to 3mm of IXPE (cross-linked polyester) foam, with a white PET film backing.
ReflecTech Mirror Film
A U.S. government-funded Small Business Innovation grant led to the development of ReflecTech, an unbreakable, durable, light-weight, scratch-proof, low-cost, self-adhesive, glass-free, reflective film. ReflecTech is used for the parabolic mirrors used in the solar concentrating power generation plants that are being erected in desert locations from California to the Sahara. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has tested the latest version of this film and found it to be weatherable for over thirty years. Flexible, stick-on sheets of this mirror film could provide extremely durable, but very lightweight reflectors for solar panel, box and parabolic cookers. The silvered polymer used for ReflecTech film is guaranteed to match or exceed the structural properties of glass mirrors, at lower cost and with proven durability. For more details see the ReflecTech brochure
The material is available directly from the manufacturer's website.
Reflective material alternatives
Using a white color instead of reflective sheet
It might be possible under ideal conditions to use a white material to reflect more light into a box cooker or as the panels of a panel cooker. The performance would suffer greatly compared to a truly reflective material, but this is worth more study. Tom Sponheim has successfully pasteurized water in a box cooker with a white inner box and a white reflector.
For additional discussion, visit Topics needing research.
Low-tech reflective materials
Reflective materials are a key component of almost any solar cooker. If you are building a solar cooker and traditional reflective materials are not available in your area, several low-tech reflective material solutions can be used as alternatives.
- Advanced Reflective Materials, 2011 - Cherly Kennedy, Senior Scientist, Concentrating Solar Power, Advanced Optical Materials Project Leader at the Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory
- Investigation of Reflective Materials for the Solar Cooker - John Harrison
- SolaReflex foil
- Ripple mirror
- Diamond Grade Reflective Materials
- Solar reflector design
- Alanod Reflection polished aluminum sheets
- Nielsen Enterprises reflective film
- ReflecTech® Mirror Film - a company producing reflective film suitable for solar cookers.
- In Hot Water: Comparing the Effectiveness of Reflective Material in Solar Ovens - Jasmine Griffin
- SolaReflex foil