Clean water during an emergency is an issue that many people are concerned about, because it’s difficult to have enough space to store a large amount of water on-hand in case of a long emergency with the power out. In our household, we’ve gone seven days without power before, from a snowstorm. Because we have a well, water is our main concern in extended power outages. For us, no power means no water. We’ve been looking for a way to resolve that issue, but we weren’t very happy with our available options.
Fifty-Five gallon drums can hold water, but they eat up a lot of space, they’re bulky, it isn’t easy to get the water out and they’re extremely heavy, putting a strain on the foundation of your house. We just don’t have the space for multiple barrels. We do have running water on our property, plus a large river within sight. Our winter power outages usually involve the presence of snow. So my main concern isn’t having a source for water, but having a way to have clean water from the water we can obtain from outside. Obviously, in a snowstorm, having water isn’t an issue because snow will melt. However, it takes energy to melt snow and pasteurize it. If you bring snow inside, it’s going to take some heat from the room to melt it, and that’s heat that you don’t get to help keep yourself warm. Staying warm when it’s below freezing and there’s no power isn’t easy, so sucking thermal mass into melting snow only makes it harder to stay warm. Using your body heat to melt snow isn’t safe.
I was recently contacted by Solar Cooking US, the makers of the SunRocket Solar Kettle and asked to do a review. I was happy to find that there was a product that claimed it could help fill the gap in my preparedness plan, plus it was useful for many other things. I don’t like one trick ponies, so to say, and I don’t like to keep unitaskers around, eating up space. If I don’t have space for water barrels, I certainly don’t have space for items that only get pulled out in an emergency. I was thrilled to see that the makers of the SunRocket claimed it could find a place in my kitchen for daily use and not just be a tool to pull out in emergencies. The SunRocket can be used to heat water and certain types of food, pasteurize water, melt snow and pasteurize it, make hot drinks or keep drinks hot for hours and more without using any electricity. I was skeptical, but I decided to put it to the test.
I was sent a SunRocket to review, however I have received no compensation for the review and my opinions are my own. The SunRocket was developed in Australia and is new to the American market. The company produces the SunRocket as well as other solar cooking products. The SunRocket is lightweight cylinder, weighing less than 2.2 pounds. It is about 18 inches tall and holds 500ml of water, which is a little less than 17 ounces. It is a compact cylinder that really does look like a rocket. When you’re ready to use it, you open up the reflective panels and set it in direct sunlight, either upright or leaning back on its stand. Reflective panels flank the vacuum tube and fold out for use, or fold in to lay up against the vacuum tube to retain heat when not in use. This video shows how the SunRocket works.
It’s a very easy device to use. Only glass touches your water or food. The cylinder touching your water is made of Vicor glass, which is heat and shock-resistant. It is BPA free and made of 95% silica. The internal portion of the valve to release pressure and steam is made of silicone. The external casing is plastic and the reflective panels and hte top of the release valve are aluminum. But no aluminum or plastic touches your food.
When the SunRocket arrived, I opened it up and took it out of the box. I took a look at it and I admit I was skeptical that it would work. I assumed that the reflective panels weren’t large enough to really do a good job of heating the water. I washed it up and got it ready to go out the next morning with some water in it, to give it a first try. I wasn’t holding my breath that it would work.
Well, not only did it work, it worked better than I expected. I quickly transitioned from water for tea to all manner of soups and hot drinks. And it worked well on everything I tried! So long as you’re dealing with predominantly liquids, it worked wonderfully. Even though it’s winter here, I was able to heat soups to steaming in an hour. Label me impressed. Depending on the time of year and your location, the makers of the SunRocket state that you can have water steaming in as little as 15 minutes.
It even worked on partially cloudy days, it just took longer. The key is to set it in direct sunlight with the shadow directly behind the SunRocket. That allows it to get maximum sunlight. I had the hang of it with the first use and it was no problem. If you have sunlight, you can use the SunRocket.
Because we’re in and out for chores, mail and firewood through the day, it was no problem to set it out in direct sunlight in the morning and pick it up at lunch to have some hot soup to include in the meal. In fact, we often had to allow it to cool a bit before the kids would eat it.
We could give the SunRocket a quick wash after lunch, whisk up some hot chocolate, pour it in, close it up, take it back out and have hot chocolate in the afternoon when we needed to go out again to get the mail or bring in firewood or when we got home from errands. If we didn’t have time to take an afternoon break, I could close the panels and let it sit on the counter and it would stay at a nice drinking temperature until after our evening meal with no problem. The SunRocket works very well to keep food hot even after you take it out of the sunshine.
Using the SunRocket was easy enough that my daughter quickly learned how to wash it out and get the hot chocolate in it so they could have some in the afternoons. It is important that the silicone valve on the underside of the lid not be blocked, so you shouldn’t over-fill it or use foods that could block the valve. My kids quickly got the hang of it. My son thought it pretty novel.
I have to admit it was pretty neat to see steam coming out of the top of the SunRocket. I’m also a cheapskate that loves alternative means of power that don’t cost me money on our ever-rising electric bill. Using the SunRocket allowed me to keep the stove off and the money in my pocketbook. Of course, that appealed to the frugal mama in me. I’m always looking for ways to reduce my power bill. The SunRocket has earned a place in my kitchen and I will happily continue to use it regularly.
Soon, we’ll have an interview with the creator of the SunRocket on The Living Kitchen Podcast. I was impressed with the creativity that was behind the product and I wanted an opportunity to get to talk to her.
The big benefit I see to the SunRocket is that you can pasteurize water to kill pathogens should you need to use water that isn’t bottled or tap. In as little as 90 minutes, you can have water up to 180 degrees if you begin with cold water. Solar cooking research has shown that water, like milk, can be pasteurized at 160 degrees for 15 seconds or 149 degrees for six minutes. So taking the water to 180 degrees is an added measure of safety when you’re in a situation where illness could be devastating. Steaming begins at about 200 degrees, to give you an idea for comparison.
This would be great for camping and hiking, to provide a way to heat or rehydrate food without having to build a fire when it’s hot out, or when you need something warm but you haven’t yet reached your final destination, so you wouldn’t want to build a fire.
Another benefit to the SunRocket is that you can easily rehydrate your dehydrated foods. I combined my cubed, dehydrated carrots with extra water in the SunRocket, and it worked as well as using boiling water from the stove. You could also use the hot water from the SunRocket to pour over the dehydrated veggies and cover. Obviously, you wouldn’t want to put powdered, dehydrated food in to rehydrate due to having to clean it out, but the whole veggies did just fine. For powdered veggies, I use the hot water from the SunRocket and combine them in a bowl.
For preparedness, in addition to the ability to pasteurize water, you can also use the SunRocket to turn snow into drinking water. It’s pretty impressive you can take snow to steaming water in two hours. In a preparedness scenario, this would be very valuable if you can use snow for drinking water without having to expend energy to melt and warm it. You can see this done in the video below.
In short, I’m impressed. This would make a great Christmas gift for the eco-consicous moms, tight budget friends who are always trying to reduce their electricity bill, your friends who do food storage, the preppers, the hikers and campers on your shopping list. I hope you’ll consider it for both your own kitchen and your own emergency preparedness plans. If you’d like to purchase one or learn more about the SunRocket and the other products that Sun Cooking US makes, click here.