Health, Nutrition, Integrated Cooking

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Food supply often represents the largest component of aid to stressed populations in post-disaster, post-conflict and generally impoverished situations. It is therefore important that it is properly usable. One crucial aspect of this is through the provision of sustainable innovation and technology for food preparation through integrated cooking mechanisms, which can be comprised of necessary combinations of solar energy, combustion stoves and retained heat.

In most areas, fuel is scarce (as can be seen in Haiti, Afghanistan and many refugee camps). Solar cooking sometimes can help, but sunlight is not always available. As a result, integrated cooking – a combination of solar ovens, high-efficiency stoves and retained heat baskets containing stones or bricks, can significantly (up to 75-90%) reduce fuel use compared to open-pit fires. If properly tied to other infrastructures, the heat used for cooking could sterilize water, and use of hot stones or bricks for heating could reduce public health risks from smoke inhalation from open fires, especially in shelters. Lowered fuel demand could mitigate deforestation, give people more time for non-fuel-gathering activities, and reduce security risks to gatherers.


Which technology and energy source(s) are compatible with an emergency environment can best be determined by evaluating all contextual variables. Towards ensuring the most effective provision of power resources and innovation in post-disaster, post-conflict and impoverished conditions, STAR-TIDES is working to provide a useful database of information for inexpensive, sustainable infrastructure that can be supplied to emergency situations and development scenarios with minimal transportation costs.

The Sphere Project is a good resource that offers common standards used by the international community when providing support to disaster victims, refugees, and other displaced populations. Nutrition is considered to be a “basic requirement” for sustaining the lives and dignity of stressed populations. Sphere provides detailed standards for minimal nutritional support within the humanitarian relief and assistance arena. TIDES highly recommends that those involved in such operations become familiar with the Sphere Standards available at the above link.


Other helpful collections of integrated cooking solutions include:

Solar Cooking Archive Wiki
UNHCR, Cooking Options in Refugee Situations
Types of Solar Cooking
Center for Development of Solar Energy
Hedon Household Energy Network
Haybox, Retained heat cooking Information Source


Each link will lead you to a new page that lists lighting solutions under these broad categories. (Note: TIDES does not endorse any specific products or stores, nor are we responsible for the content on the links.)

Equipment Providers

  • Solar
  • Combustion
  • Retained Heat
  • Consulting Services/How-to
  • Camp-stoves/ Other

Technical Considerations and planning factors common to integrated cooking solutions are:


  • Panel
  • Box
  • Parabolic
  • Hybrid (solar/electric)
  • Cardboard
  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Glass and Metal
  • Low ($10 - $50)
  • High (>$50)
    • Low (<2 kg)
    • Medium (>2 kg-10kg)
    • High (>10 kg)
Cooking Temp
      • Low (<140 C) (panel cooker)
      • Medium (140C-180C) (box cooker)
      • High (>250C) (parabolic cooker
      • One Small pot (<2 liters)
      • Two small pots (<2 liters)
      • Single Medium pot (>2 liters)
      • Two medium pots (>2 liters)
      • Large (> 6 liters)

Notes: For detailed information on all types of solar cookers go to the solar cooking archive.


A detailed USAID study provides the most recent evaluation of fuel-efficient stoves. The non-profit ETHOS also provides information and assessments on various fuel-efficient stoves available on the market and for local manufacture.

Retained heat:

There are currently no standards or published assessments on retained heat cookers, which can be made by stuffing a container with any insulating material (straw, grass, cloth) to surround a cooking pot with at least 10 cm of insulation on all sides. Approximate cooking times for simmering over a heat source and then sealing in a retained heat cooker are as follows:

White Rice 5 min 1-2 hours
Brown Rice 10-15 min 2 hours
Potatoes (whole white) 5-10 min 1-2 hours
Creamed Soups 2 min 1 hour
Dried Beans (soaked) 10-15 min 3-4 hours
Meat Roast 20-30 min 3-5 hours



Solar Cookers International
Sun BD Corporation (Solar/electric hybrid)
Sun Ovens International, Inc.
Solar Oven Society
Solar Sizzler
ClearDome Solar Thermal LLC
Seth Jones
Rainbow Power Company, Ltd.
Sunfire Solutions
SUNSTOVE Solar Cookers
Small Power Systems
Solar Household Energy, Inc.


Rocket Stove
Wood/Gas Campstove
Sunfire Solutions
Thermette North America, Inc.
Kelly Kettles


The Solar Cooking Archive
Sunfire Solutions


Solar Cookers International
Rocket Stove



Small Power Systems - Solar Oven Trackers

The solar oven tracker is a simple self-powered azimuth tracker. It is a platform that rotates on a “lazy susan” bearing using a small motor that is powered by PV cells. As the sun moves it shines on the solar cells which make the the motor run and turn the platform. When the cells are again shaded the motor stops.

The platform and base are made of painted plywood. The tracker can be left in the rain occassionally but should not be left in the weather for extended periods of time the same as a solar oven.


Sunstove Solar Cookers - The Refugee Solar Cooker

A solar cooker for emergencies, made with local materials.

This low cost solar cooker is designed for emergencies and refugee camps. It can be built from materials that are available in your country. It should be considered for a give-a-way program because of its limited life and capabilities. Normal cooking capacity is 2 liters. USA, RSA, and Indian reflector patents are free for anyone to copy or modify.


Rainbow Power Company, Ltd. - Solar Oven Box Cooker

This Solar Oven / Box Cooker comes with four stainless steel cooking pots, an oven mitt and a 69 page user manual/recipe book on CD. Tulsi Solar cookers work well in a wide range of climatic conditions and are successfully in use at high altitude snow covered mountains, under high wind velocity and sub-zero temperature conditions. This reflects the superior quality and brilliant performance of our Solar Cookers.


Seth Jones - Solar Funnel Cooker

Each Kit contains:
-An Aluminized Mylar Funnel in a polycarbonate tube.
-White plastic support container.
-Black cooking vessel (canning jar) with lid (makes a pressure cooker!).
-Block of wood, for insulation.
-Oven-safe plastic bag (for greenhouse effect).
-Instruction booklet: very easy assembly, in minutes for most folks. How to use the Solar Funnel, and guidelines for cooking with the Solar Cooker.


Soltac - Cook Sack (Inflatable Parabolic Oven)

The CookSack is a patented solar device that is used to capture the heat energy of the Sun. Its parabolic mirror focuses sunlight on a thermally conductive pot filled with water to be used for purification, cooking or washing.

In use, the CookSack is a Solar Oven Kit designed to conveniently heat water or cook food with only the energy from the Sun. It may be used in disaster or wilderness areas that have no materials for fires, or where campfires or cook stoves are prohibited. It is also useful for melting snow or ice for water, warming batteries, signaling and radar locating.


Solar Oven Society - Sport Solar Oven

The Sport has introduced thousands of people to the joy of solar
cooking because it is:

-large capacity – holds 2 - 3.4 Qt. pots
-highly weather resistant
-complete kit: oven, pots, thermometer, manual, recipe booklet, WAPI (water pasteurization indicator.) (*Reflector is optional.)
-light weight – 10 pounds
-stable (normal winds cause no problems)
-looks great


Sun Ovens International, Inc. - Global Sun Oven

The GLOBAL SUN OVEN® has been devised to meet up to 70% of the needs of a family of 6 to 8 people in a developing country, entirely with the power of the sun. Even though it is called an oven, food can be boiled, steamed, roasted or baked at cooking temperatures of 360° F / 182° C, making it ideal for cooking the majority of foods in the developing world. This ruggedly built solar appliance weighs only 21 pounds / 9.5 kg and will last more than 20 years.


Sun BD Hot Pot Solar Cooker

The Sun BD Corporation's Hot Pot Solar Cooker is capable of water pastureurization for up to 2 liters at a time. It is also MRE and K- ration heat up capable, and there is no fire, burning, or environmental destruction caused by or associated with the use of this product. The Hot Pot Solar Cooker has been extensively field tested and deployed over the last decade in the humanitarian relief sector.


Solar Cookers International

Solar cooking can improve a woman’s health, her children’s health, her household budget, her field’s ability to grow crops, her personal safety, and her educational opportunities. The sun’s free, zero-emissions energy produces no household air pollution, preserving the environment as people cook food and pasteurize drinking water. Solar Cookers International works to improve human health, quality of life, and environments for nearly 3 billion people who cook over open fires by promoting solar thermal cooking technology.