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This is an instructable to show how to make a parabolic solar oven out of

It's perfect for my utilisation : it makes one liter of water boil in 15-20 minutes
and cooks a meal for 3 people in something like 45-60 minutes on good days
The parabola is approximately 1.5 m wide and 50 cm deep. The larger the
aperture size, the more powerful it becomes. It's quite stiff as it is with the
bamboo ring, but if you want to make it bigger, you'll need to find some other
ways to stiffen it.

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Step 1: The petals

The idea is that if the parabola is cut symmetrically along 8 radial directions and
flattened out, then it would appear like an 16-petalled flower. So once you have
the petals made of any flexible material you can bend them in the shape of a
I used 5 mm thick plywood. I think you can use a thinner plywood, but then you'll
need to add a stronger structure to stiffen the parabola. Have a look here
(http://home.germany.net/100-441770/amsi2.pdf), they use a metallic structure
to keep everything stiff.
I used this (http://ashokk_3.tripod.com/srinivasan.htm) publication to calculate
the dimensions of the petals. I had to tweak it a little bit to have something i
could actually use.
Here (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1FRolCSxTmaPWG-
6BgGYLTjBjqGtdlQkYWqyuTmX8Ud8/edit?usp=sharing) is a google
spreadsheet with everything you need (you can download it to modify it). I've
also included an .ods file called parabola calculator.ods. You can :
• modify the focal length of the parabola
• modify the number of petals
• choose the length of the petals
I've also included a petal in svg that I created using Inkscape. You can laser-cut
the petals if you have access to a fablab !
Once you've cut the petals, drill holes every 20 cm along the sides of the petals
so that you attach them together with the plastic cable ties.

Parabola calculator.ods (/files/orig/F3C/7HI8/HXDJJTV5/F3C7HI8HXDJJTV5.ods)73 KB

petal.svg (/files/orig/F22/NYK0/HXDJJTV8/F22NYK0HXDJJTV8.svg)34 KB

Step 2: The discs

The discs will force the bottom of the parabola to be plane. Without them, it's
just impossible to bend the plywood !
Cut two discs of 20 cm out of plywood. Divide them like a pie in 16 equal parts
and drill holes 2 cm from the outside of the discs.
Drill a hole of the same width 8 cm from the base of each the petal.
Sandwich the petals between the two discs using bolts.

discs.svg (/files/orig/FR9/73OC/HXDJJTZC/FR973OCHXDJJTZC.svg)49 KB
Step 3: Bending the plywood

I've used plastic cable tie to hold the plywood together. I've found it easier to go
gradually from the center to the edges of the parabola as shown in the pictures.
You can also circle the parabola with a rope, it will help.

Step 4: Adding the aluminium

The aluminium will reflect the sunlight on the cooking pot. I used 2 adhesive
aluminium tapes of 25mx5cm which cost me 10 € each.
I've found that is better to add the aluminium tape when the plywood is already
bended (else the surface won't be flat once bended)

Step 5: Welding the pot holder

The pot holder is on the focal axis of the parabola so that it can also be used as
a pivot for the parabola.
The position of the pot holder depends on the shape and the size of your
parabola but in any case you can find it in the spreadsheets of the first step.
Drill a hole on two opposite petals. I used an electric wood saw to cut an ellipse
(the intersection of a parabola and a cylinder can be approximated by an
ellipse). The cylinder I used has a diameter of 4cm so I cut an ellipse of 4x6cm.
The welding should be very strong! I've added two extra "branches" on each
side because of the weigth of the pot (I have a pot of 20L).
The place where you put the pot should be a bit lower than the rest so that the
center of the pot will be on the focal point.
Step 6: The bamboo ring

I used a big green bamboo pole that I cut in 4 to stiffen the parabola.
The parabola could be stiffer, but it's alright like this !
Bamboo poles are very easy to cut, use a big knife and a hammer. Cut it while
green and flexible and then let it dry on the parabola.
Step 7: The support and extras

The support should be strong enough for the parabola and the cooking pot. I
made it stiffer by adding wood along the diagonal.
I've also added a little handle to the parabola so that it is easier to rotate and to
That's all! If there's any problem, feel free to comment or to contact me. Have

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