The sun stove solar cooker.

Crystal Park resident Margret Bennet spoke to the City Times on June 5 about her non-profit organisation (NPO), SunStove, which was formed in 1993.

They have since been dedicated to producing low-cost, user-friendly solar cookers for people who experience a biomass or energy shortage for cooking their everyday food.

Margret said: “When I learned about solar cooking from people in San Diego, I thought I could start a project making them and showing people from rural areas how to make them for themselves.”

Margret Bennet next to the SunStove solar cooker she uses to cook her food.

The SunStove solar cooker is made from recycled material as much as possible.

The polyethylene terephthalate outer case is partially recycled and the reflective surface is made from used printing plates.


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“I thought the solar stoves could benefit women in informal settlements as they could become demonstrators and make a living for them by selling these SunStoves, but this idealistic plan has hit the dirt,” she said.

“Instead, other entrepreneurial people have been buying from me at cost price and making the retail profit on it,” she said.

The SunStove works best when:

• The sun shines for more than 45 minutes in every hour.

• You can see your shadow and it is no taller than you are (roughly between 10am and 3pm in winter and 9am and 4pm in summer).

Cooking time when using the stove is as follows:

• Small amounts of food (under two litres) usually do not require longer cooking times.

• For medium amounts of food (between two to three litres) increase the cooking time by 50 per cent to 100 per cent of the usual cooking time.

• For large amounts of food (between four to eight litres) increase the cooking time between 200 per cent and 400 per cent of the usual cooking time.

• You will find that two pots of food will cook faster than the same amount in one big pot – just like your microwave. Dried foods like beans, if soaked overnight, will not take any longer in your SunStove than they do on your regular stove. What’s more, beans, chick peas etc. will not break up during the cooking process. Mielie meal cooks quicker and is even tastier if you toast it on an open black tray first.

Margret spoke about the advantages of these stoves:

• Easy to use: It does not require any assembly or dismantling and can be left unattended while cooking. It is easy to clean because there are no ashes, fuel or burnt wood.

• High quality: It is a durable product made of high quality weather-resistant materials with a rugged and aesthetic look and feel.

• Portable: It weighs less than 5kg and is easy to move or store. SunStoves nestle together snugly, allowing for easy transportation as well as low-cost packaging and shipping.

• A healthier and tastier option for cooking: it cooks food slowly, using less water, leaving food tastier and more nutritious.

• Eco-friendly: It does not release pollutants or consume natural resources.

• Safe: No risk of fire or explosion. Reduced risk of skin burns.

For more information on the SunStove residents can visit the website at www.sunstoveorganisation.org.za

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