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Make a solar oven out of a chip can

This eco-friendly project will take the boredom out of a sunny day, and help fill your belly.

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Alina Bradford
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
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After you finish a chip nosh, don't toss the can. You can make it into a solar oven that can be used to heat up hot dogs or roast marshmallows. Of, course, heating times vary depending on where you live and how hot it is outside. If you're heating up precooked meat, like hot dogs or lunch meat, makes sure that it gets to 165 degrees Fahrenheit (73.88 Celsius) before you eat it.

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What you need

To make your solar oven, you need the chip can, a box cutter or craft knife, tape, a stick or kabab skewer and plastic wrap. Make sure to wash out the inside of the chip can with dish soap and warm water. Let it air dry before you start your project.

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Cut a hole

First, cut a rectangle-shaped hole on one side of the can with the box cutter. The hole should be around 4 by 3 inches (10.16 by 7.62 centimeters). Don't throw the cut-off cardboard away. You'll need it in the next step.

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Make a stand

Take the cardboard you cut out in the last step and tape it on the can so the hole is on one side of the can and the cardboard is on the opposite side. You'll want to tape the cardboard so that it curves away from the can. This will be your oven's feet so it doesn't roll away with your food.

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Make a couple holes

Use the box cutter to make a hole in the bottom of the can and in the lid that is big enough for the skewer to poke through. Getting the blade through the aluminum bottom is tough, so be careful. Push the blade into the bottom and slowly twist the blade until it pokes through.

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Add food

Now for the fun part. Take the lid off your oven, skewer your food with the stick and poke one end of the stick through the aluminum side of the can. Push the other end of the stick through the lid and secure the lid back on the oven.

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Add sun

To lock in heat and to keep out bugs, wrap the hole on your oven with plastic wrap (make sure to wash and reuse the wrap to be eco-friendly!) and set your oven in the sun. The rays will reflect off of the foil lining inside of the can, building up heat inside of the tube and warming your oven.

Warming up a hot dog can take 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how hot it is outside and how much direct sunlight your oven receives. The best time to use your oven is in the afternoon, when the sun is high in the sky.

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