Saturday, December 20, 2008

Camp Stoves - Esbit

"Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong.” - George Carlin

As discussed in my blog two weeks ago, there are four kinds of portable stoves that can be used for camping, during power outages, or when you need an extra burner. Some are safe for indoor use (kerosene, propane, Sterno) while some are not (Coleman fuel/white gas, esbit).

Today's blog will look at solid fuel like Esbit, hexamine, and trioxane tablets. These tablets have a high fuel density and do not liquefy while burning. They are light, easy to carry and there is no danger from "spillage". They can be extinguished and saved for re-use. They make excellent fire
starters for camp fires.

They are smokeless and ashless but not odorless. Solid fuel can emit noxious fumes like cyanide. Food should be cooked in closed pots. Hexamine should not be used in enclosed spaces like a tent or indoors. Solid fuel will leave a sticky dark residue on the bottom of pots.

Esbit tabs weigh 1/2 oz each and will burn 12-15 minutes. Using an aluminum foil windscreen or mini stove, Esbit will bring a pint to boil in 8 minutes. One and a half tablets will boil a liter.

Bottom Line

Esbit is ideal for back country hiking and camping. It is super light and safe (when used in open air). The heat is intense but small in size. Boiling water can be slow but an egg will fry fast. The high heat is suited for boiling not simmering. It is excellent for making hot drinks, stews, pasta and other one pot meals. Given the high cost and short life of solid fuel it is not suited for baking, grilling or roasting.

Esbit was created in Germany and stands for "Erich Schumms Brennstoff in Tablettenform"; i.e. Erich Schumm's Fuel in Tablets.

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Blogger Bruce said...

I wonder if this would work for simmering with Esbit tablets:

An old trick I used to use with a gas stove--that I couldn't turn the flame down low enough to simmer--was to place a corrugated metal lid from a #10 can on the burner, and place the pan on top of that.

The metal lid would dissipate the heat and I could get foods to simmer just fine. (It also made it almost impossible to make foods burn.

It might be a viable way to heat already-cooked canned meats ( ) and canned stews, like Dinty Moore, or soups ... like the heaven-sent Campbell's Cream of Mushroom.

I've never used an Esbit, so I don't know. (I opted for a thousand gallon propane tank that gets us through an entire year.)


December 20, 2008 at 6:43 AM  

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