Letter Re: Solar Ovens

I have been reading your blog for a few days now and I am shocked to find that you have never mentioned solar cooking. Seems that everyone that would be reading your site would be interested in something like this. It requires no fuel, produces no smoke, requires very little attending-to while cooking (frees you to do other things rather than cook for a few hours) they are small and easily stored. pretty much everything that one would want in a cooking device. they even work when its not really sunny out. I would think that refueling a retreat in a disaster scenario would be impossible or extremely expensive relying on propane or any combustible fuel for extended retreats seems like a bad decision.
there is more info than you can read in the next few days there..
here are a few commercial products, although its really simple and very inexpensive to build your own.
This site has some great water pasteurizers, pasteurization indicators (that are reusable) that use no fuel at all.
Obviously it is good to have a backup cooking plan (fuel) but this eliminates significant expense, storage, weight, and danger from storing and just having large amounts of fuel on hand (theft and fire dangers)

Also I have never seen any mention of Lifestraws. they are small inexpensive lightweight water filters that filter about 180 gallons of water. You can hang them around your neck.The new version (Lifestraw 2) does not have an iodine aftertaste.

I cant seem to find anywhere that sells the new version yet, but it looks to be very good. – Thomas

JWR Replies: Thanks for your mention of solar ovens. We presently have wintery weather here, but I’m sure that our readers in Australia could set up their solar ovens about now. You are correct that we haven’t given them much more than passing mention. They are quite useful, especially for those living below 40 Degree Latitude, but even then, there are seasonal and terrain limitations. (They are not very useful if you live in a canyon.) Here at the ranch we have a compact (collapsing) solar oven., but for serious solar cookery at home or a permanent retreat, my brother recommends the Global Solar Oven. (He built one that was very similar, from a kit (sadly, no longer available), and it works amazingly well.) I also recommend the book “Cooking With The Sun.”

For use in the field, I much prefer higher-volume filters, such as the Katadyn Pocket Filter (which has a service life of up to13,000 gallons). In my experience, LifeStraws should be considered “novelties” rather than useful tools. They are not practical for filtering any volume greater than emergency drinking water, they clog easily (mine did after less than about 70 gallons), and the service life cost “per gallon” is actually more than twice as much as buying a high volume compact filter.