Solar Cooking
Last edited: 31 May 2019      

Glues and pastes must be nontoxic and odor-free when heated. In the U.S. and elsewhere, the most commonly used type of glue for pasting foil to cardboard and other light-duty gluing tasks in making solar panel cookers or solar box cookers is PVA, a white adhesive often used for wood, paper, and cloth. The most famous brand of white glue in the U.S. is Elmer's Glue All. When using white glue to attach aluminum foil to cardboard it's usually best to thin the glue by making a mixture of 50% glue and 50% water. Any nontoxic glue that continues to hold in the oven temperatures works. Most rubber glues are toxic; heat-melt glues will not hold.

Homemade paste or glue can be made from some grains or flours, such as wheat, rice or oats, and work particularly for attaching foil to cardboard. Laboratory tests have established that wheat paste has adhesive strength equal to or exceeding Elmer’s White Glue.

Use a grain that makes thick sticky water when cooked. In the pastes tested the addition of about 1/8 part sugar or honey made some of them stick better. In Arizona, food glues which have dried are not edible to insects.

Cartilage from animal legs (the portion that ties muscle to bone, not hoof) can be boiled a long time and when hot spread for a durable hot glue useful on outer parts of the SBC. There are old references to fish glues but no record has yet come to me how that was done. Animal glues kept in a glass jar or tin can become soft enough to work when heated in a solar cooker. At the end of the work session, heating any of the organic glues or pastes in a container with a lid pasteurizes them so they are slower to spoil, particularly if they are then kept at low temperatures, like food. If using a non-canning jar, be sure to leave the lid loose until removing the jar from the cooker to relieve steam pressure.

If nontoxic, water-based glues or pastes are hard to obtain, consider taping, tying with spun fiber or bands of woven cloth, or stitching to hold the major pieces together.

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