>Tips & Tricks (FAQ)
Kona Cooker FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Q. What do I need to build the Kona Cooker?
A. You will need:
Q. What comes with the Kona Cooker pattern?
A. You get the Kona Cooker pattern, instructions on how to build the Kona Cooker, cooking instructions, cooking hints and recipe cards.
Q. Is this some little diagram copied out of a book? Am I going to need a ruler, calculator or protractor to build the Kona Cooker?
A. Nope! The Kona Cooker is a FULL-SIZED pattern ready to be cut-out and used. Just cut-out your pattern and trace it onto your cardboard. It takes us less than 15 minutes to build a Kona Cooker.
Q. I don't have a 3x4' piece of cardboard now what do I do?
A. We have made Kona Cookers using two or more pieces of cardboard by taping/glueing them together to make a 3x4' piece. This works just fine, just make sure to build it so it's sturdy.
Q. How safe is the Kona Cooker to use?
A. Because temperatures get only up near boiling212F/100C there isn't a chance of anything catching fire (paper burns at about 400F). Eye protection from the reflected sun and pot holders for handling the pots are a must. There's no glass or mirrors to break, no hard parts to get hurt on other than your cooking pots.
Q. Where do I put my food to cook it?
A. Your food goes into a dark cooking pot with a lid. The pot then goes into an oven cooking bag which lets solar energy in but prevents the heat from escaping.
We have found that Mirro makes a very nice, inexpensive line of pots that work very well.
I drilled a hole in the lids so I could place a dial thermometer though it into the food so I can monitor the temperature. This works really well and it's amazing to watch the needle move up.
You need to buy the cooking pot and oven cooking bags since we only supply the Kona Cooker pattern.
Q. How hot does the food get inside the Kona Cooker?
A. On a sunny day the temperature inside the Kona Cooker goes just over 200F/93C which is hot enough to safely cook food. You'll need pot holders to handle the cooking pots since they do get quite hot.
Q. Will water boil in a Kona Cooker to sterilze it?
A. We've seen water temperature get near boiling, but to make water safe from micro-organisms you only need to pasteurize it. To pasteurize water it only needs to get to 150F/65C and to pasteurize food 160F/71C. On a sunny day water can easily go over 150F/65C. Pasturizing makes foods like milk and beer bought in stores safe from micro-organisms (the milk and beer would probably be ruined by boiling). Water heating demonstration.
Q. How long does it take to cook in the Kona Cooker?
A. We've seen some prepared canned foods take 1.5 hours on a very sunny day but 2 hours seems to be the average for many things. The temperature doesn't go much over the boiling point, also food is in a sealed container so it's impossible to 'burn' your food although you could overcook food if left in it too long. Just as a regular oven different foods take different cooking times. Visit our message forum and the recipe area to find out what other people are cooking and their times.
In order for food to 'burn' you need to heat it up so much that all the water has evaporated out of it and that's very unlikely in the Kona Cooker.
Q. Don't solar ovens with mirrors and a glass top cook better than reflector solar ovens?
A. Yes, those ovens do well but they are either expensive or difficult to build. Also do you really want glass and mirrors to knock around? The cheap to build Kona Cooker allows you to cook several different foods at once since you can build as many Kona Cookers as you need.
Q. How about those ready-made solar cookers that I've seen cooking a kebab on them? That looks pretty good.
A. Think about it, do you want to pay big money for some big solar cooker that only cooks one kebab that you have to constantly rotate? If it takes about an hour to cook that kebab or hot dog then who gets to eat that and who gets to wait another hour for another to cook? Also notice how those types of cookers have open food right over the reflectors so anything that drips off the food goes directy onto your reflector surface! The person who hasn't eaten also needs to change/clean the reflector before they start cooking again. Do you want your food left cooking in the open for bugs to land on it? I'd rather set-up a few Kona Cookers, go swimming, relax then eat a meal with everyone else.
Q. How well does the Kona Cooker work on cloudy days?
A. All solar cookers need a good amount of sunshine to cook with. We have cooked on days that were sunny but had clouds floating in front of the sun for a few minutes at a time. The heat in the food usually keeps the cooking process going awhile until the sun comes back out.
Q. Am I limited to using the Kona Cooker only in hot southern areas of the United States?
A. Some people have reported good results with solar cookers in areas such as Denver, Colorado due to clear skies and high elevation making solar radiation powerful. Use the solar radiation maps in the Resources area to see the average solar radiation for your area for a certain time of year. The norther part of the U.S. can provide ample solar power during summer months.
If you have any other questions just email us.
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