Wonder box / ovens and Why You Need One

wonder box

For a number of years my wife has been using wonder boxes as part of her everyday cooking.  As the name implies they are a wonder.  They will serve to cook food, keep them warm or cold and use no source of fuel.  Sound like it is too good to be true.  Well the good news is that it is true and easy to improvise in an emergency.

Historically they have been called hay boxes, wonder ovens, wonder boxes or thermal cookers.  They have been used to save fuel for hundreds of years.  So what are they?  They are simply a well-insulated box in which you place hot or cold foods.

It is simple to cook with one, you merely bring the food to a boil or cooking temperature and place it in the wonder box.  Our box consists of a 15-quart plastic container lined with pillows, you place the hot food in the box and it continues cooking from the retained heat.  Some authorities claim that this can save up to 80% of you fuel.

wonder box
A commercial version

When we go on a camping trip or picnic my wife will bring something to a boil and place it in the oven, when we arrive, we have a hot cooked meal ready for us.  Be sure you bring it to a good rolling boil and heat it clear though before placing it in the oven. The following links will take you to articles that show you patterns for making the pillows to fit in the boxes.  But in reality, you can use almost anything for insulation from old pillow, old clothes or even hay.

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The wonder boxes also serve as an insulated cooler.  Ours will keep ice cream frozen longer that a plastic cooler.  In addition to saving you the cost of fuel, using a wonder box in the summer can help keep your kitchen cooler, since the stove is not in use.

wonder oven
A Diagram of how to make a hay box from an old book

Wonder boxes are also an aid to operational secrecy, in that when the lid is on they retain cooking odors.  Overall for very little money wonder boxes serve a multitude of purposes and can be made almost anywhere.


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