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Satellite Dish Solar Cooker - Making S'Mores with the Sun

Although the sun is 93 million miles away from the Earth, there is still a massive amount of energy that reaches across space and heats the Earth system. We can feel it, we can see it, and the energy from the sun is responsible for all of the energy that drives the physical and biological processes of the Earth. So, why shouldn't we be able to use the sun's energy to cook food? Well, as it turns out, we can!

The satellite dishes that you see on a lot of homes are parabolic in shape which means they are concave so that any signal that hits the metal "dish" will be reflected into a central area. This is what allows the dish to pick up a signal from a satellite in space and send it to your television.

I decided to use the parabolic properties of an old satellite dish to see if I could cook things with solar energy. And, as you can see in the video, it was a 'glowing' success! I was reaching temperatures above 350 degrees F at the focal point of the sun's rays, more than enough to cook food, make S'Mores, or burn wood!

How to make a satellite dish parabolic mirror solar cooker

Supplies: Satellite dish (scrap yard), reflective material, plywood, sun

  1. Remove sensor from the dish, it won't be needed.

  2. Remove all of the paint from the concave side of the dish (the side that is indented like a bowl). I used a special paint removing sander, it saved me hours of sanding (find it here).

  3. Clean the sanded surface thoroughly.

  4. Lay out reflective material (I purchased a roll from Green Power Science but there are options available through as well)

  5. Cut reflective material into strips (2-3 inches, depending on how large your dish is)

  6. Starting at the center strip, gently adhering the strips to the dish. Avoid bubbles.

  7. Construct a simple base so the solar cooker will not tip over (I used a small piece of plywood)

  8. Point your mirror facing the sun and set an object at the focal point. *Beware, this point of light will be EXTREMELY hot and will burn through skin and leather gloves - I learned that the hard way!*

  9. Experiment with angles, objects and food!

Parabolic Mirror Solar Cooker Tests

I tested all of the following objects in the Solar Cooker

  • Marshmallows - rotate quickly to get an nice even brown on the surface

  • Chocolate - place in a steel bowl and put bowl in focal point. Stir frequently.

  • Basketball - melted a pinpoint hole in the ball and all the air escaped.

  • Kylo Ren Action Figure - Star Wars villain who used the sun to destroy enemies. We melted his face.

  • Soda Can - it exploded with significant force as the sun melted a weak spot into the aluminum.

To see more experiments using the energy of the sun, check these out:

Keep on Learning! ~Craig


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