Esbit Stoves

 

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Peak to Peak Trail and Wilderness Links
Peak to Peak Trail and Wilderness Links

 

Esbit Stove

Army canteen stove

Homemade Trioxane/Esbit Stove

Tioxane vs. Esbit

Make your own Esbit stove


Esbit Stove

Esbit pocket stove from CampmorPrice: $9.99

Weight (Manufacturer): 3.75oz

Weight (Tested): 4oz

Fuel: Solid Esbit fuel or Trioxane tabs

URL: Campmor

Review:

This stove has always been one of my favorites. It is a simple design consisting of three pieces of stamped metal held together by two pop rivets. It is very durable and hard to break.

Operation. Operation of this stove is simple. Take a piece of fuel and set it in the center of the bottom tray, then light. The stove uses Esbit brand fuel which is the most efficient, and Trioxane fuel which is cheaper, but slightly less efficient. 

Esbit comes in waxy white blocks similar in appearance to soap. My experiences are that you should use 1/2 or 1/4 blocks at a time. Most often I use 1/4 when making hot water for breakfast, and 1/2 for cooking pasta, rice, or potato dishes for dinner. It is hard to break, and lighting it sometimes requires exposure to flame for a few seconds, once lit it burns with a slight odor.

Trioxane is purple and comes in an aluminum wrapper. It's bars are brittle so break easy, and have 2 seams in them for being broken into third. When cooking it normally takes 2/3 to boil 2 cups water. Trioxane is not as efficient as Esbit fuel.

Adding a wind screen makes the stove more efficient and only adds .5oz weight to the stove. The windscreen used in the tests was the same windscreen from the Tuna Can Stove.

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Army canteen stove

Army canteen cup, stove and canteen all together

Price: $6.95

Weight (Manufacturer): 4oz

Weight (Tested): 2oz

Fuel: Solid Esbit fuel or Trioxane tabs

URL: U.S. Cav

Review:

I have carried this stove for years. It is a very trustworthy and durable stove that requires absolutely no maintenance since it is simply a single piece of aluminum with air holes.

This stove is designed to be used with Trioxane fuel (see above). Simply use a piece of the Tioxane fuel wrapper as a base to set the fuel on, break off a 1/2 piece of the fuel, light, and cook. It can also use Esbit fuel.

The stove is designed to be used with a stainless steel Army canteen cup (9oz) and fits outside the cup for storage. 

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Home Made Trioxane Stove

Home made Trioxane Stove

Price: $2.99

Weight (Tested): .5oz

Fuel: Solid Esbit fuel or Hexamine tabs

Review:

This is a really simple design I came up with while playing with the different stoves. I simply used a dryer duct pot stand/reflector and a simple piece of aluminum left over from an oven liner. A similar stove could be constructed using a bottom off an aluminum can, a trioxane wrapper, etc.

It's the lightest stove I made or tested, and surprisingly fairly efficient. Simply cut a piece of dryer vent 2"-2 1/4" high. Put three notches evenly spaced at the top approximately  1/4" deep for top air venting, and punch out air holes around the bottom using a paper hole punch.

Tests were done using Trioxane fuel, but this stove could use Esbit brand fuel as well, and at greater efficiency.

If your looking for a very cheap, efficient, and lightweight backpacking stove, go build you one!

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14 APR 2002

Esbit vs Trioxane Fuel

Recently Sweeper and I were discussing his upcoming hike where he planned to use a homemade Esbit stove he had made. He was looking into getting the fuel and I recommended he try Army Trioxane tablets because they are generally cheaper. We got into a discussions about the benefits of each fuel and neither of us had ever seen a test of the efficiency of each fuel in a side by side comparison. So I decided that sounded like a worthwhile project. This is the results of the tests.

Standards:

1.       2 cups of water at room temperature 65 degrees.

2.       Pot used is a Snow Peak 720ml titanium pot with the lid closed.

3.       Both stoves used the same Esbit folding stove and a windscreen made using my standard instructions.

4.       For trioxane method 2, .17 ounce trioxane was fed into the stove as the previous piece was burning out. For Esbit method two, the .5 ounce blocks were split into 1/4 ounce blocks (1/2 block) and only one 1/4 ounce block was used.

5.       Each amount was double checked using a scale. The standard fuel used was .5 ounces.

6.       Each test was repeated three times, the average was used.

7.       Starting time was when the stove was lit.

8.       Stoves were allowed to completely cool between tests.

9.       Barometric pressure here was 30.15, the boiling point was determined to be 212.43 degrees.

10.    Altitude is 90 meters above sea level.

11.   For temperature readings, a Thermocouple was used hooked to a digital multimeter.

12.   Air temperature was 75 degrees with the stove fan running to simulate a light wind.  

13.   Scale used was a Royal EX3.

Temperature:

Esbit

Esbit Method 2

Trioxane

Trioxane method 2

Price per .5 ounce fuel 50 (Campmor) 25

12.5 (Brigade Quarter Master)

150 degrees

285 seconds

290 seconds

180 seconds

180 seconds

175 degrees

350 seconds

425 seconds

n/a

350 seconds

200 degrees

415 seconds

n/a

n/a

n/a

Max heat:

212.5

181.5

160

175

Time to max heat:

480 seconds

600 seconds

270 seconds

350 seconds

Time above 175 560 seconds 175 seconds n/a 30 seconds

Observations

Esbit:

1. Harder to light. Took me a few tries regularly to get it going.

2. Smells like dead fish coming out of the box. I would probably store them in a zip lock to prevent the smell getting into my stuff.

3. Non toxic and the fumes aren't bad - but can be deadly with prolonged exposure in an unventilated area.

4. Burns at a steady, controlled pace.

5. 1/2 ounce is one tab of fuel.

6. Didn't leave much residue behind.

7. Remembering a post from The Lightweight Backpacker, I dug through their archives and found this information about Esbit actually being Hexamine Fuel according to Michael Koussiafes, a chemist.

Trioxane:

1. Easy to light - no tricks needed.

2. The quality control on the packaging is bad. I had two empty sealed packets in my 6 boxes I checked. Also the bars are normally falling apart inside the package - lots of fuel crumbs.

3. Toxic - fumes aren't to bad unless you are right over the stove.

4. Burns quickly. The flames were huge, but were not as hot (at least that is how I saw it). This led me to try and divide a bar into 1/6 pieces. I then tried feeding three separate parts (1/2 ounce total) and feeding them in intervals - method 2.

5. 1/2 ounce fuel was 1/2 bar.

6. Left a wax like substance.

Conclusion: Esbit is clearly the winner based on these tests in all areas except price. But if you consider that the Trioxane never archived the performance of the Esbit, the Esbit still wins. Unless in a total pinch for fuel, Trioxane doesn't cut it.

Using my time Hiking vs. Weight scenario here are the numbers. I include the Turbo V8 as a comparison to alcohol.

Red = Worst performer

Yellow = Middle performer

Green = Best performer

**Note. For purposes of this illustration I am considering my fuel bottle a 20 ounce soda bottle.

14 Day Hike Turbo V8 stove Sweeper Esbit Stove Esbit Folding Stove
Hiking Day 1.0 ounces fuel a day (36 ml) 1 ounce of fuel a day 1 ounce of fuel a day
Day 1 15.3 ounces 14.2 18.0
Day 2 14.3 ounces 13.2 17.0
Day 3 13.3 ounces 12.2 16.0
Day 4 12.3 ounces 11.2 15.0
Day 5 11.3 ounces 10.2 14.0
Day 6 10.3 ounces 9.2 13.0
Day 7 9.3 ounces 8.2 12.0
Day 8 8.3 ounces 7.2 11.0
Day 9 7.3 ounces 6.2 10.0
Day 10 6.3 ounces 5.2 9.0
Day 11 5.3 ounces 4.2 8.0
Day 12 4.3 ounces 3.2 7.0
Day 13 3.3 ounces 2.2 6.0
Day 14 (fuel for one meal left) 2.3 ounces 1.2 5.0
Base (out of fuel) 1.8 ounces .7 ounces - Sweeper Stove with windscreen 4.5 ounces - folding stove with windscreen
Total Weight over 14 days 124.2 ounces 117.8 ounces 161 ounces

Clearly the Esbit stove uses the same mass of fuel as my V8 stove. Because of the folding stove's higher weight, the efficiency can be negated. To keep the weight even over the 14 day haul - the Esbit stove (with windscreen) should weigh 2.4 ounces or less. AYCE  has a cool design on his site that should do it when combined with a good windscreen. He also sells a stove if you don't want to make it.

Another benefit there may be Esbit (I haven't tested this yet) is the ability for Esbit fuel to perform better in colder weather. I assume that the Esbit tablet performance would not change much based on air temperature.

Since I cook with 2 different cooking methods, the water heating and the boil I would recommend carrying 1/2 blocks or buying the hexamine 7 gram blocks. That way you could heat water for meals like breakfast where a boil isn't required, and use two 7 gram blocks or one full Esbit for cooking meals like pasta, rice, beans, etc. This would stretch your fuel even longer. Given my cooking/hiking style, I could get by on .75 ounces of Esbit fuel a day.

The only real difference is in price. I last paid about $1.25 for a 12 ounce bottle of Heet (yellow bottle) which can serve as stove fuel to boil 16 pints of water, while it would cost $8 for the same amount of Esbit fuel. Since Esbit is actually Hexamine, you can look for some deals at some surplus and survival stores. An example is at IMS-PLUS where two of these round tabs are equal in weight to one Esbit tab - although for the price shown, they're still as expensive as Esbit.

To mix all that up.

Even assuming that you need more alcohol in cold weather, you can still get 12 pints from the 12 ounce bottle of Heet, the main difference is that you add more weight to the trip. This would mean that a comparable stove with fuel weight for an Esbit stove would make a 5.1 ounce stove (with screen) just as weight efficient.

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Hall of Honor Recipients for this page
Charles Lindsey
AYCE
Jeff
Sweeper
Michael Koussiafes
Shane Graber