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review: esbit fuel and stove

I have not been an Esbit fan and it's been an emotional response since I purchased my first Solo Stove about 8 months ago. After my first burn I realized that the chemicals and tar released by the traditional wood flame was going to cover my pot. Joe does not seem to mind, however, I've also discovered traditional bushcraft and the inflection points are just not available to me. [a] because bushcraft is not really a thing in South Florida [b] I'm finding that hiking is much more enjoyable.

First let's talk about the new Esbit store. I purchased a "Esbit Ultralight Folding Stainless Steel Pot Stand with Tray for Alcohol or Solid Fuel Stoves" and I purchase some "Esbit 1300-Degree Smokeless Solid Fuel Tablets for Backpacking, Camping, Emergency Prep, and Hobby, 14-gram, 12-pieces". There is a smaller tab option but I'm not sure what it's used for. It does not generate the same heat at the larger tab.

Pro:

  • lightweight
  • flexible
  • easily setup
  • almost looks like it provides it's own wind screen
  • silent
Con:
  • the edges and the center disk feel like nails on a chalk board
  • I dropped a tab from about 4 feet onto concrete and it fractured a little
  • had a subtle smell
  • did not take first light
  • without a torch light I'm not sure how to light it
  • folded it does not fit in my 500ml cup
  • one tab and 500ml and I only got warm water

nice size flame


The lit of my torch lighter has slots in it. The slots snagged on the disk when I lit the tab. I almost started to panic as I tried to release the lighter without burning my house down.


warmed the water but that was it and warm was warm enough. After the tab was exhausted I dropped a tea bag into the water and let it steep for 5 minutes. The water was still warm enough to be considered hot.


Here is the stove after the burn. Notice the chemical residue. Yuk


Now look at the bottom of the pot. There is black soot. I suppose that when out in the field or on the trail you do not care about these things but after my test I wanted to head back into the house. It's a good think my desk is black so it is transfers I won't see it.

By comparison the canister stove:
  • loud
  • fuel is heavy and voluminous
  • has an off switch
solo wood stove
  • takes time to get fuel
  • dependent on weather conditions
  • soot
  • constant tending the fire(probably not a bad thing)
RUCAS alcohol stove
  • not exactly quiet but not anything like the canister
  • subject to spillage
  • temperature sensitive
  • priming can consume valuable fuel
No matter which stove type or manufacturer you choose it's important to know and understand the rules and laws pertaining to where you are. And regardless, should a fire get out of control you might be responsible for the consequences.

PS: I've watched a number of bushcraft video that I think are very informative. Many of them are "a day in the life" style. But few people realize is that 30 or 60 minute video takes place over 3 or 4 days and there may or may not be 8 hours of daylight. Setting up a campsite at dusk can take 2 to 3 hours specially if you are collecting firewood and making a shelter. Some bushcraft guys make full and proper bush meals which itself takes time. By comparison Super Ultralight hiking suggests you are hiking or sleeping. Choosing to make elaborate meals on the trail or maybe taking a nap some place. Might be better to go with non-cooking food and forego cooking altogether.

I recall my favorite canoe trip. I had a block of cheese and a salami log. Best canoe trip ever.

So what I've learned about the Esbit is that one tab equals 500ml so rehydrating a meal has to be limited to 500ml. and if I want a hot beverage I'll need a second tab. I'm not going to purify water as I did not get a rolling boil. It's not very compact but it is light.

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