Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Solar Cooker From A Tire
This is one of those, "Why didn't I think of that?" ideas. Tires are black and non-shiny, so they grab a lot of heat from the sun. That is why the common practice of using a tire as a planter doesn't work well in the South unless you paint the tire white.
Speaking of paint, the instructions in the video say to paint the pot black. I think a better plan would be to use a cast iron Dutch oven, which will already be black if you have been using it very much. The cast iron also adds thermal mass, which is a good thing. Besides all that, a Dutch oven is also very useful for cooking on a fire. In fact, that is what it was designed for.
One of the commenters claimed that this is a bad idea because the tire may outgas toxic fumes. You will have to decide for yourself if the reward is worth the risk, but consider a couple of pertinent facts. First, the Dutch oven makes a fairly good seal; which limits the ingress of any vapors. Second, if you use a used tire, most of the outgassing that is going to occur has already happened. I could see choosing a used tire that fits my truck or Jeep and is somewhat worn but undamaged. That way I have a second spare tire (sans wheel) in case I need it, as well as a way to slow-cook something in the sun while I am out exploring or whatever. I think this would work well in the desert.
I have been in situations where that extra tire would be a good thing. I would have my Dutch oven along anyway, and I would also have a scrap of plywood (they work well as a base for the Hi-lift jack on soft ground). The only additional thing I need is a pane of glass. An old car window would be perfect as long as it is packed in a way to prevent breakage; or a cheap piece of Plexiglass from the hardware store would suffice.