Do you know how to make a solar oven? I’ve always wanted to try one, so when the UK was unusually hot last summer we gave it a go. It was actually much easier than I expected and our marshmallows melted very quickly.

If you fancy setting up a few garden activities on a sunny day another idea is to create a DIY sundial.

What you need to make a solar oven

  • Cardboard box – like a pizza box
  • Aluminium foil
  • Matte black paper or card
  • Clingfilm
  • Food – not raw meat – we used marshmallows
  • Plate

How to make a solar oven

Cover the inside of the box lid with foil and the bottom with matte black card.

Place your food on a plate in the base of the box

Position the box so it faces the sun, adjusting the lid so the light is reflected onto the food. Fix the lid at this position with tape, a tack or stick.

Cover the food base with clingfilm to keep your food clean.

Solar oven made in a pizza box with marshmallows covered in foil
Marshmallows in a solar oven

After about 30 minutes our marshmallows had melted enough to squish between some biscuits.

S'more made in a solar oven
Melted marshmallow between 2 biscuits

How do Solar Ovens work?

The matte black paper absorbs the heat while solar radiation from the sun is reflected from the aluminium foil onto the food.

We tried a different activity with crayons and left one crayon in the sun on a shiny metal plate and one on a plastic plate. The crayon on the metal plate melted fastest. Why do you think this is?

solar radiation experiment - melting crayons in the sun

Extension Activities

Does the food heat up faster if you use a matte black plate rather than a white plate? Why do you think this would be?

What extra features could you add to your solar oven? How about a hinge mechanism?

This activity is great for:

Key stage 1 and 2 Design and Technology

Improving skills, knowledge and understanding of an iterative design process.


Allowing children to design a purposeful, functional and appealing product for themselves and others.

Generating and developing ideas


Selecting appropriate tools and equipment.


Exploring the best location and structure of the oven for it’s purpose.

Testing their ideas.

Using mechanisms such as hinges.

Collage of solar oven images
How to make a solar oven

Once you’ve made a sundial, how about trying our Pick and Mix Summer Science Camp?

The post How to Make a Solar Oven appeared first on Science Experiments for Kids.

Originally posted at Science Sparks