What are the legal methods of cooking which doesn't involve electricity or gas (or at least without paying for it)?

I'm looking for life hacks which allows me to cook by using alternative source of power (e.g. Sun) to heat my pot.

P.S. This should be also useful for people who doesn't have electricity/gas in their place.

  • You mean bills for electricity or gas? Or without paying any money (burning wood for a stove, buying appliance for cooking without electricity) ? Maybe you are searching for alternative source of energy
    – vladiz
    Feb 16, 2015 at 15:39
  • @vladiz Burning wood for a stove could be one simple example (not too hackish), but I'm rather expecting some more inventive answers (e.g. using sun heat, solar energy, but not specifically), or similar to How to generate electricity for free, but not for charging the phone, but for cooking. Can be either in garden or home.
    – kenorb
    Feb 16, 2015 at 15:44
  • Perhaps more on-topic on The Great Outdoors?
    – Mast
    Mar 17, 2015 at 14:39

4 Answers 4


Use a solar oven. Not sure the expense of building it but it could be worth the cost. Basically an insulated box with a glass window top for sun to get in. There are some other ideas at :wikipedia


As Doug said, solar cookers can be effective and energy-saving.

Solar ovens

Here are instructions from wikiHow how to build these.

Method 1: Lightweight Solar Oven

  1. Place a cardboard box inside a larger cardboard box and fill the gap with shredded newspaper, which will act as an insulator.
  2. Line the inside of the smaller box with black construction paper, to absorb heat.
  3. Cover each piece of cardboard with reflective material such as foil (secure it with rubber cement or tape).
  4. Attach each reflector to the top of one side of the box (use glue or staple).
  5. Prop each reflector up at around a 45 degree angle.
  6. Position the oven in full sun, place food in the smaller box, and wait for it to cook.

    Lightweight Solar Oven source

Method 2: Heavy Duty Solar Oven

  1. Cut a large metal drum in half vertically with a jigsaw (e.g. oil drum).
  2. Clean the inside of the half-drum thoroughly with a de-greasing soap (use a scrub brush).
  3. Size and cut three pieces of sheet metal to contour to the insides of the half-drum. You need one large rectangle for the curved interior and two half-circles for the end pieces.
  4. Attach the sheet metal to the inside of the drum.
  5. Paint the inside of the oven with a reflective paint rated for barbecues.
  6. Create a continuous metal lip around three of the four top edges of the oven. This will hold the glass top (which you will slide in and out through the fourth, open side) in place.
  7. Flip the half-drum over and apply spray-on insulation to the outside walls.
  8. Attach a base to the bottom of the oven (ex. a piece of wood, a square aluminium frame with wheels, etc.).
  9. Drill drainage holes in the bottom of the oven. This will allow liquefied steam that drips down the sides to escape the oven.
  10. Slide a custom-sized sheet of tempered glass into the metal lip.
  11. Insert a magnetic thermometer.
  12. Place a thin aluminium grill along the bottom (optional).
  13. Test your oven’s heat capacity on a sunny day. Though you can reasonably expect a max heat of between 250 and 350oF (90 and 175oC) depends on the size, materials, insulation and weather.

    Heavy Duty Solar Oven

Method 3: Solar Veggie Steamer

  1. Use 2 cardboard boxes with 1 inch (2.5 cm) different dimensions, 5 cardboard panels, one vastly larger than the rest, Styrofoam, transparent wrap, aluminium foil, black craft foam, black Tupperware (with lid), water, your favourite veggie, glue, and 5 sturdy sticks.
  2. Place the large box onto the large cardboard panel, glue in place. Place the smaller box inside the larger box, glue in place. Trim off any difference in height.
  3. Line the empty space in between the 2 boxes with Styrofoam (don't use glue). Line the inside of the small box with 2 or 3 layers of the black craft foam, then glue together. Completely line 4 cardboard panels with the foil and glue the foil to the cardboard. Try to avoid creasing the foil.
  4. Glue the panels at a 45 degree angle to the box.
  5. Cut a rectangular hole just large enough to slip the Tupperware through on one side of the cooker.
  6. Take the transparent wrap and stretch it over the entire mouth of the solar cooker.

    Solar Veggie Steamer

  • and how hot might it get on a dull winter's day? not very useful or reliable I'd guess. When the sun goes behind a cloud your cooking stops.
    – Dave45
    Feb 18, 2015 at 22:59
  • @Dave45 During winter's day, you can cook as well. On cloudy days, you'll have to wait a bit more I guess.
    – kenorb
    Feb 18, 2015 at 23:15

Google the "Woodgas" camping stove - it burns pretty much any dry woody leafy fuel pretty smokelessly, but has to be outdoors. It works with a small battery-assisted fan. Allegedly designed to help third-world countries by minimising smoke pollution. I have one and it is very effective and leaves minimal ash. However the fuel load is fixed (although the stove comes in various sizes/loads). Mine works for 10-15 minutes and its done. Stop and reload. Great for fry ups while camping. Works when there is no sun too !


I once saw an episode of The Fugitive, where the fugitive heated tinned soup on a car engine. I don't know how well it would work and it'd be more of going camping solution than an everyday solution.

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