SLiCK, UK to MAMA SOLAR AFRICA – EcoZoom ‘Jiko’ Stoves

Back in August we took our ad-hoc roadshow to the Green Gathering Festival in Wales. For four days we demo’d all things solar cooking. Because solar cookers cannot cook when the sun goes in, we also demonstrated rocket cook-stoves, and fireless cookers. In combination, these three technologies will provide hot food from morning to late evening, at very low energy cost. This low-carbon approach is known as ‘integrated cooking.’


Most people understand fire, so wood cookstoves are easily understood, but fireless cookers?, not so much. A fireless cooker is merely a very well insulated container allowing food to keep cooking after the heat source is removed. To raise awareness of this simple technology, we held a tongue-in-cheek ‘World Beauty Contest’ for fireless cookers, since only nice looking objects will last in your home. Visitors to our display were asked to vote for their favourite fireless cooker.



The winner, Faustine Wama, of Kenya, is also known as ‘Mama Solar’ in recognition of her tireless efforts to promote integrated cooking in east Africa. We thought we could best support her work by providing her with some very efficient, award winning charcoal stoves (known as ‘Jikos’ all over East Africa). These stoves burn charcoal about 70% more efficiently than the ubiquitous Jiko stoves, with 58% smoke reduction. Called the Ecozoom Jet, they have won awards, especially for Womens empowerment in the developing world.

Faustine was presented with three Zoom Jet stoves by on behalf of SLiCK by EcoZoom Kenya. Here you see her with a range of attractive fireless cookers, some solar cookers, and one of the Zoom Jet Jikos.

img_6156-1500x1345 faustine-with-jiko

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They will allow her to demonstrate a very efficient combination of cooking technologies solar cookers for when the sun’s out, charcoal stoves when it’s not, and fireless cookers for saving charcoal and keeping the food warm, well into the evening, if required. These cooking options can save money, reduce pollution and slow the crazy deforestation rates in the area.


Old inefficient Jiko, New efficient Ecozoom Jet

She will be using them in her integrated cooking demonstrations and for use in a supported school. These will reduce the fuel costs for cooking which are a burden to the school, which doesn’t have much of anything. We will keep you posted on’Mama Solars’ demonstrations in East Africa when we can. Thanks to all who contributed to our effort! You can also donate a jet stove in the Nairobi slums -get in touch at EcoZoom UK

fireless-cookers sundowner

Authors: Dave Oxford/Stewart MacLachlan  – SLiCK UK

Special thanks to: Alex Key, Malaysia; Zoe Williams UK; Lee Wharton UK; Stanley, USA ;and Nabukelela, RSA (for ‘Tea Cosy Sikeleli iAfrica’), who all gained a commendation for their entries – great stuff guys

Seriously Low impact Cooking


SLiCK – Solar Cooking at the UK Green Gathering 2016

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The Green Gathering 2016 was SLiCK’s first roadshow. Solar cooking in the UK is carried out in variable weather but we got perfect conditions for the 4 day event. Our goal was to demonstrate practical solar cooking to visitors with as much theory as you can eat. This festival occupies a niche in the UK outdoor festival scene – it’s completely off-grid, running on wind, solar and people. This limits the scale but it remains a large and popular event with environmentally minded visitors from all over. It was a highly receptive crowd and most had never encountered a solar cooker before or were unfamiliar with the concept.

Our location benefited from a southern aspect, with all day sunshine possible. We experienced a lot of interest and learnt a lot.

What Solar Cookers did you have on Show?
We had a selection of all current types, along with some prototypes. While SLiCK markets two of the units below, our aim is to demonstrate all the types we can and always with an open and even handed approach.
Panel Cookers – The Lightoven ; The Rollins ; The Cookit
Vacuum Tube Cookers – The SM70 ; Wall Kettle ; Rand Naked
Solar Box Oven – The SunOven
Parabolic Dish – The SolSource ; The INOX

How did the Cooking Go?
All day solar cooking with multiple cooker types is a developing art. I’ll be expanding more on this in later posts, as the job of ‘solar chef’ has little precedent at this time. I guess its like managing a busy kitchen with ‘stacked’ cookstoves, closely watching food volumes, cooking times, solar energy inputs and meteorological conditions. All while talking to visitors and keeping an eye on hazards – its hot stuff!.
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To be sure SLiCK’s crew ate solar every day – our evening meal together was a combination of foods cooked during the day, kept piping hot in fireless cookers as necessary. All food (including hand out snacks) was vegetarian, delicious (if you ask me!) and with no accidents or burns.

What Events were held
Multiple Cookits and jar-in-jar containers were used for Dave Oxford’s workshop, ‘how to cook an egg in pure sunlight’. Attendees learnt about the physics of solar cooking whilst seeing it in action. We learnt a lot from this and will be developing the syllabus further.

The worlds first ‘Fireless Cooker Beauty Contest’ was held on our site. Well, more about this later, but a great selection of beauties was presented to our visitors, who voted for the prettiest over the festival period. Kenya’s Faustine Odaba  won this contest with her great selection, hand made by women there as a way of supplementing their income. We raised £100 in donations and 3 efficient and award winning Ecozoom Jet rocket cookstoves will shortly be presented to Faustine’s Nairobi charity in Nairobi . – our favourite worthy cause.
fireless-cookers egg-cooking-solar

What did you learn?
We figured out some of the peculiar aspects of a large solar cooking demo. These included what we needed to be doing to keep things safe and clean while operating heat emitting devices. Any kind of scary incident with our demo might have got us closed down on the spot. We took a lot of care.

Much of what we pioneered here can be replicated, at other events and maybe  at the `Green Gathering 2017′ if we get invited back.

What was the response from Visitors?
All in all the reaction was very positive. People were keen to learn – many were aware of solar cooking and some had even seen or made a solar cooker – with variable results reported from these experiments – mostly poor. Very few had encountered a manufactured solar cooker. In this context our display was eye opening. Some of our cooker types had never been demonstrated in the UK before.


People understood the global issues that solar cookers can help with – indoor air pollution, reducing deforestation and using free solar energy instead of charcoal, wood or fossil fuel. When asked about the number of people cooking on firewood most people far under-estimated the World Health Organisations 3 billion figure.

Visitors mostly ‘got’ the concept of integrated cooking which combines improved biomass cookstoves, fireless cookers and solar cookers  – allowing 24 hour cooking using no fossil fuel and minimal wood fuel. The question ‘I want to eat when the sun isn’t shining’ didn’t arise.

Far too many negative views were expressed about solar cooking in the UK. My favourite was ‘Its OK for Africa, but it wouldn’t work here…… ‘ as i pulled out a sizzling tray of frying onions / popping mustard seeds….., defensively they followed with ‘well it wouldn’t work in Blackburn!’. Perhaps they’re right?, I don’t know for sure (yet!). It was great to get the opportunity to challenge these assumptions directly, its what we at SLiCK have set out to do.

What would you do better
This was an outreach event and it was met with a lot of enthusiasm. Our event at the Green Gathering ’16  was probably the biggest solar cooking demo in europe this summer. We’re still figuring it out. SLiCK is self-resourced and this sets the scale of what’s possible. We would certainly like to bring some more cookers types on site and develop both the cooking aspect and the learning part. There are sure to be plenty of ideas leading from this event for a fantastic SLiCK Solar Cooking roadshow in 2017. Maybe we we’ll see you at one of them?

Author: Stewart MacLachlan – SLiCK Solar Stove

Join the discussion on the Facebook group Solar Cooking UK


SLiCK – 2017 World Fireless Cooker Beauty Contest

Fireless Cookers use heat retention to cook. Get your food hot elsewhere then place your pot in the fireless cooker. It will carry on cooking, staying hot for hours afterwards. At SLiCK we recommend fireless cookers as a perfect sister for a solar cooker. Get your food hot and steaming in the sun, place in a fireless cooker and get on with your day. It works when the sun goes in and food will be ready for tea-time. Cook a meal using NO FUEL WHATSOEVER.

firelless cookers kenyaThis type of cooker is useful round the house, keeping food hot, or even drinks cold due to thick insulation. Different designs exist: Traditional ‘hayboxes’ for cooking are well known and the Wonderbag is a popular design, along with vacuum insulated pots. In the third world people make their own to save money and fuel. You can do it in the UK too.

We feel its important for a fireless cooker to look nice in its surroundings. House proud people won’t put up with ugly stuff in their living space. Once again we’re holding the worlds Fireless Cooker Beauty Contest and invite all to compete.


Mama Solar, Kenya 2016 – World Title Holder We’re inviting entries from around the world, of Fireless Cooker designs. The 2017 Beauty Contest will be held at the UK Green Gathering at the SLiCK Solar Cooking demonstration stand. The Green Gathering is a large and influential UK festival powered entirely by sun, wind and renewable power types.

You’d be welcome but if you can’t attend in person entries as picture files are invited. We’ll print, laminate and exhibit them at the ‘Beauty Parade’, held on the Sunday at midday. A write up is also required, telling the story of your cooker and how nicely it works. With tongue firmly in cheek international Fame beckons for the 2017 World Beauty Queen! Impartial Judges will be drawn from festival attendees. Help raise the profile of this super green cooking technology. Entries must arrive by 1st August to the email on our Contact Us page

Green Gathering Website

Author Stewart MacLachlan SLiCK



Britains First Solar Cooked Beer

Back in February SLiCK set out to make 100% solar home beer on a domestic scale. This could be a first for solar cooking. We wanted to avoid chemicals by using solar boiled water to clean everything up. Sterile equipment is the key to a good result for brewing. Well it took all of a cloudy, rainy February and March to get the boiled water to do this. In April a clear weather window presented itself and we were good to go.

imageLondon’s Morning sun boiled 5 litres of water, enough to make 14 lItres, when mixed with tap water. You can see our robust collection of solar cookers being used – tubes, panels and boxes

A Cookit panel cooker was used to soften the malt syrup. This was added to the water, along with some cane sugar and yeast. The brew was left covered indoors for a week or so, for the vigorous ferment stage.

We bottled the beer around late April. A major hassle for a home brewer is sterilising each and every bottle. Large production plants have machines doing this, wasting a heck of a lot of water.

To banish bacteria our solar cooking workaround was to use a ‘Global Sun Oven’ type box cooker. This got filled with  rinsed bottles and left out in clear sun. The bottles reached over 85C, at which point I shaded the sun oven, taking no risks and leaving the bottles in this temperature range for over an hour – no bugs would survive to taint the flavour.IMG_1483

Out of the oven and hot, we added a small amount of ‘priming sugar’ to each bottle. This allows a secondary ferment when stoppered up, giving fizz and keeping things freshimage

It’s important to label your beer so you know how long to keep it, and for presentation. It needs to ‘condition’ in a cool place for a while so its down in the coal cellar (‘Le cave SLiCK’), sitting at a steady 7C. It should be ready this August when its coming to the Green Gathering for our SLiCK solar stove demonstration stand.

Well we didn’t mash the malt, dry the hops or refine the sugar but as far as we’re aware this is the world’s first solar produced home brew! I hear that the Bavarian beer industry classes beer as ‘food’, so at a stretch this is indeed a ‘solar cooking process’ and I invite solar cooks throughout the land to join us at the Green Gathering 2016 in sharing a glass of solar summer ale, cheers!image

Author – Stewart MacLachlan – SLiCK
for Seriously Low impact Cooking

Serious Note: Throughout the world big purchase decisions are made by men, including cooking devices only ever used by women. Perhaps beer making is a way to draw more people into practical solar cooking?

Low impact Solar Cooking at the Green Gathering 2016