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October 17, 2009

On the Making of a Cardboard Box Oven
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 07:30 PM *

Ideal for cooking Chili-Dog Casserole (see below) for Boy and/or Girl Scouts in camp:

  1. Take a cardboard box, such as wine comes in. The top will become the oven’s door, for the whole thing will rest on what was once the box’s side, with the hinge to the left or right, as you will.
  2. Line this box (including the inside of the door) completely with heavy-weight aluminum foil. You can use duct tape on the outside of the box to hold it in place. Make sure the cardboard on the inside is Completely Covered. (This is important.)
  3. Punch two or three holes of perhaps a half-inch diameter on each side of the box, close by the bottom and close by the top as it will be used.
  4. Construct a rack half—way up, using metal coat hangers. You can interlace the hangers with the top hanging-hooks toward one another, and it will be quite sturdy. If you’ve selected a properly sized box you can cut a couple of slits opposite one another in the two sides adjacent to the door, and thread the outside corners of the coat hangers into them, making it nice and sturdy. (The slits, of course, should be the minimum size necessary.
  5. Take two metal pie plates. Place them bottom-to-bottom, in the bottom of your oven.
  6. Put charcoal briquettes in the upper pan and light ‘em off. Each briquette gives you forty degrees (F) of heat in the oven, so for our chili-dog casserole you’ll need nine briquettes.
  7. While the coals are heating up, make the casserole. Place it in the oven, close the door, and cook until done.
  8. Serve it forth.
You can make biscuits, brownies, cakes, or whatever else you wish in this oven. The oven will last for several uses. (Do keep it away from flammables, as you would anything that gets hot, and don’t use it in an enclosed place, as you wouldn’t anything that produces carbon monoxide.)
Comments on On the Making of a Cardboard Box Oven:
#1 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2009, 07:50 PM:

Each briquette gives you forty degrees (F) of heat in the oven, so for our chili-dog casserole you’ll need nine briquettes.

Wait, is this reliable? Shouldn't it matter what the temperature of the surrounding air is?

#2 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2009, 08:09 PM:

Avram, if the air outside is cold enough for it to make that much difference, it's probably too cold to be outside cooking.

#3 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2009, 08:25 PM:

I'm pretty sure there are people out there who camp out at temperatures of 80°F or more, and below 50°F.

Putting it another way -- for what range of briquettes is Jim's rule of thumb reliable? I strongly suspect you can't burn a pile of 1000 briquettes and get a 40,000°F fire. I'm also pretty sure you can't put a single briquette in an oven and make a nice cool 40°F refrigerator. (Or no briquettes at all for a 0°F freezer!)

#4 ::: Phiala ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2009, 08:44 PM:

From the headline, I thought this would be about the wonderful cardboard box solar oven.

These are very little harder to make and don't require charcoal. Obviously, they're less useful if it's cloudy.

They do work quite well - I've used one for quite a bit of dyeing, which requires moderate sustained heat, but you can get them much hotter if you want.

#5 ::: Debra Doyle ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2009, 09:01 PM:

Avram@3: I'm pretty sure there are people out there who camp out at temperatures of 80°F or more, and below 50°F.

The apparatus -- based on local experience -- is reliable for the range of temperatures in which New Hampshire Girl and Boy Scouts do their camp cookery, which is to say from the mid-eighties down to freezing. While New Hampshire scouts, being a hardy lot, have been known to camp out in temperatures far lower than that, at that time of year there's usually deep snow on the ground, which renders tinfoil-box-oven cooking problematic.

#6 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2009, 09:52 PM:

Actually, I've been camping at temperatures down to 20F at night (waking in the morning to 'Water bag icer gut!'). You really appreciate hot breakfasts in that kind of weather. No snow - this was in August, and it was nice and sunny.

#7 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2009, 11:36 PM:

Ever made a Buddy Burner? You get your clean #10 tin can with the lid removed, cut some holes in the sides along the open end, place upside down over your heat source (I don't remember quite what those are— burner things a little bigger than a tea candle) and cook. Obviously not a strong heat source, but you can make pancakes.

#8 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2009, 02:19 AM:

Are there Celsius briquettes that provide 22.22 C apiece?

#9 ::: spam deleted ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2009, 03:51 AM:

[posted from 194.8.75.239]

#10 ::: Terry Karney see spam in ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2009, 04:04 AM:

And I trust it will be well cooked.

#11 ::: Jon Hendry ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2009, 10:54 AM:

When I saw the headline I thought this was another sweat lodge post.

#12 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2009, 11:19 AM:

Forwarding this to my 15-year-old with his favourite brownie recipe. Will let you know how he gets on :)

#13 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2009, 11:28 AM:

B. Durbin @ 7 ...
I can't seem to get a better link than this one, but look under 'stoves' for a remarkable assortment, some of which I suspect match the sort you're describing.

#14 ::: Andrea Phillips ::: (view all by) ::: October 18, 2009, 07:04 PM:

Is there a diagram of the rack made of wire hangers bit? Or at least an indication of about how many wire hangers you need? I'm completely failing to visualize this step.

#15 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2009, 01:31 AM:

Just don't have a sweat lodge inside it.

#16 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2009, 07:09 AM:

I suppose the wise Scouting leader will remember to bring along an oven thermometer.

The interpreters at Old Sturbridge Village showed me how they can fairly accurately measure the temperature in the wood-fired kitchen ovens. You stick your hand inside one and hold it for as long as you can, counting the seconds out loud. Individual pain tolerance may vary, but after a very short time of experimentation, you will end up with a personalized, reliable temperature gauge.

#17 ::: Nicholas Rogers ::: (view all by) ::: October 19, 2009, 06:33 PM:

Avram @3:

The rule of thumb is +/- the unit of heat from roughly room temperature. After that the deviation calls for an additional unit of fuel when the outside air is colder, two extra units of fuel if it's really REALLY cold out.

Notice I said colder...as forty degrees above room temperature seems to rapidly diminish the desire to "cook" anything for a scout of either gender (except maybe actually frying an egg on a rock just to prove you can do it).

As for the colder situation, once past two extra briquettes you have bigger issues with the thermal column created by the cooking. For weird reasons that I can't explain with any justice, below zero Fahrenheit the escaping warm air doesn't actually escape and the oven starts to have difficulty maintaining a sufficient amount of oxygen vs carbon monoxide to facilitate combustion.

I've been told it has to do with air pressure differences between the cold and the warm air when the outside air is really cold...but again...not my area of expertise and that part of the answer could be wholly and utterly off base.

I can tell you that at -10 Fahrenheit on a calm winter day in the woods of central Idaho, this did not work at all. After about 30 minutes the weird airflow (you could see the air gasping in from the top) started to make the briquettes flicker, without cooking a darn thing.

Could 10,000 briquettes make a 40,000 degree oven? No, the aluminum foil would melt at a much lower temperature than that, igniting the cardboard and poof, now you just have a pile of briquettes and no reflective heat amplification. (yes, I know you were being silly and already knew that.)

#18 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: October 20, 2009, 09:30 PM:

Take a cardboard box, such as wine comes in.

Yeah, that sounds like my old Scout troop, all right.

#19 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: October 21, 2009, 09:41 AM:

Connie H @#16: Those who make clay ovens at SCA events have a similar metric: 2 or 3 rhinoceros for quickbread, 12 rhinoceros is about 350F.

#20 ::: Stefan Jones suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2009, 10:43 PM:

Suspiciously generic post. Link to commercial site.

Apologies to Andy if he's genuine, but I Think Not.

#21 ::: Clifton Royston sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2009, 02:04 AM:

Definitely generic comment spam.

#22 ::: Pendrift also seems spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2009, 08:57 AM:

I wonder what the magic word luring them in is.

#23 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2009, 11:19 AM:

It's the text of the user name, the presence of which reinforces the SEO strength of other links posted by the same person elsewhere on ML (and the collection of same at the "view all page"). They're not so much "drawn in" by the topic of the thread, as digging a latrine in it.

#24 ::: Summer Storms sees probable spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2009, 11:01 AM:

At least, I think that's what it is.

#25 ::: Pendrift sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: November 09, 2009, 11:02 AM:

In any case, they sure like this thread!

#26 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2009, 03:39 PM:

Which makes me wonder: Are there any particular reasons why some threads seem to attract them so much more than others?

#27 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2009, 04:10 PM:

I know (from other sites) that if a spam comment stays unedited, it will attract more of its ilk.

I suspect that the spammers pass around lists of URLs to try, and they're probably not systematic about it. A URL that they tried once, or where the message stayed live for a few hours, may keep getting tried just because it's on the list.

#28 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: November 10, 2009, 06:15 PM:

I had 40,000 spam comments on my personal blog (which had gone stale anyway)

The stat log shows a search engine query for a random series of silly words, which I never put on the site myself.

So I suspect that someone posted that series of silly words in a comment as a marker that means "here's the place, let's all pile on!"

#30 ::: Jeremy Preacher sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2009, 02:30 PM:

Ooh ooh ooh, I got one!

#31 ::: Xopher sees blatant and stupid spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2009, 11:25 PM:

I mean, really.

#32 ::: Xopher sees URGENT spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2009, 11:31 PM:

Wow, this is urgent. It keeps posting over and over. Ann Dolley is a bad, bad person.

#33 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 08, 2009, 11:52 PM:

IP banned, spam deleted.

#34 ::: Cadbury Moose sights disgusting spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2009, 08:17 AM:

Ewwwwwwww!

3:O(((>

#35 ::: Lee sees link spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2009, 07:08 PM:

@ 42

#37 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 12:29 PM:

And the exact same words posted all over the web, and a spam link. Yeah.

#38 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 12:47 PM:

"I suspect that the spammers pass around lists of URLs to try, and they're probably not systematic about it. A URL that they tried once, or where the message stayed live for a few hours, may keep getting tried just because it's on the list."

I've seen something like that happen on my blog-- someone posted something that was actually on point, but very brief (i.e. a human had probably looked at the post, and then dashed off a sentence), but that had a commercial link with the poster's name.

I let it stand at first, but eventually I saw in my referer logs that some people had come to the blog in search for that commercial link.

I then deleted the link (but let the post itself stand), and since then, I've been nuking such links in people's names when they're commercial (unless they're clearly for *that commenter*'s personal business *and* relevant to the comment). I've sometimes just nuked the whole comment, but to date haven't always done so when they've made some effort to be relevant. I may change my mind if it gets too prevalent.

(I suspect this sort of thing is what those "get paid to write online!" jobs entail; very fast quasi-"relevant" comments with an ad-link payload.

#39 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 10, 2010, 02:39 PM:

Sometimes, in the links that spammers leave, when I look at the comment in the back end, I see the URL ends with ?REF="nielsenhayden.com" which tells me explicitly that they're tracking where hits come from. Other times, I find little one-pixel by one-pixel transparent .gifs loading into the comment itself, which will tell the spammer how many times the page has been viewed, and which of the spam-posts are in live locations.

I nuke 'em all.

And sometimes, when a thread becomes nothing but call-and-response spam, I just close the thread.

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