Off Grid Oven: How to Turn A Cardboard Box into an Oven

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This neat little project is about making a makeshift oven using a cardboard box, aluminum foil and other simple items. The finished product is an oven that functions just like your kitchen oven – but without the electricity.

Shared from: Safely Gathered In

You need:

  • 1 cardboard box (for this method, it needs to have a slide-on top, like a box that holds reams of paper. See pictures)
  • charcoal
  • matches (or a lighter)
  • aluminum foil
  • 1 round aluminum pie plate (or anything to place your charcoals in)
  • 3 wire hangers
  • scissors or a knife
  • pliers
  • tongs
  • whatever food you want to bake

Line the inside of your box and lid with aluminum foil. If you’d like, use a sponge and dab some Elmer’s glue around the inside and cover to hold the foil in place (this is especially useful if you plan to keep your box oven, and not just make a new one in an emergency).

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Once that’s done, use some scissors or a knife to poke three holes in a straight line on each end of the box, about halfway down from the top. You’ll see what these are for in just a minute.

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Meanwhile, straighten out your three hangers.

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Put the three straightened hangers through the holes. These will act as a shelf to place your food on.

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Next, bend your wires so that they will remain taut inside the oven. We don’t want heavy food bending the wires and sitting directly on the charcoals.

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This step might be kind of difficult, so you may want an extra pair of hands and some pliers.

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It doesn’t have to look pretty, it just has to work! Next, poke some other holes in your box so that oxygen can get in and gases can get out. Now, we actually did NOT poke extra holes in this particular oven, because by the time we finished making our wires taut, our three holes we poked in each side had become fairly large, so we figured they were enough. If your holes on the side remain small, use your knife or scissors and poke a few holes on the top of the box, and maybe one or two on each side.

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Next, let’s turn up the heat!

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Place some charcoals in your round aluminum plate. Each charcoal briquette supplies 40 degrees of heat, so 9 briquettes will give us a 360 degree oven.

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Light your briquettes with the matches or a lighter (it will probably take a few matches. Be sure that each briquette burns).

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Let the briquettes burn for a while…

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Until they look like this! Then you’re ready to go.

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With your tongs, pick up the hot plate of charcoal

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And slide it carefully between your wire shelf onto the bottom of your box.

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Carefully..

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There! Use the tongs to straighten out the charcoals and spread them out a bit.

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Meanwhile, put together whatever you want to bake. We’re making an apple spice cake that my mother-in-law had in her pantry – just add water!

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Place your food on the wire racks

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And cover with your oven top.

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Now just set the timer like normal, or watch the clock. Note: If your recipe calls for a longer baking time (more than 45 minutes to an hour), you will probably have to switch out your charcoals around the 45-minute mark.

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Do not use your oven on a wooden deck or on grass, or anything flammable. We are cooking in a concrete deck. Never use this oven indoors.

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Time’s up! Let’s see how it looks:

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And….. It’s done! Carefully life the pan out of your oven (use hot pads!) and enjoy!

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