Oct 2, 2006 at 6:34 pm #1219783
These suckers sound too good to be true… from the product page:
“…no smoke, they have a high energy density, do not liquefy while burning, and leave no ash residues.”
That last bit… does that mean it does not leave brown sticky gunk on the bottom of your pot?! That would be awesome. Plus they are hotter and cheaper than Esbit… and come in a smaller size! Awesome. I rarely boil much more than 16-18 oz for my solo meals… and I often end up wasting a lot of Esbit as a result. I know I could break it in half… but my worry then would be that I would not get a boil. 10 grams seems like the perfect size.Oct 2, 2006 at 6:44 pm #1364107
@pivvayLocale: Rocky Mountains
I want to try them too. 10g sounds good for solo trips and better breakability for the 14g sounds good too.
The brown stuff wipes off but it’s still a little annoying…Oct 2, 2006 at 7:04 pm #1364109
Do you have a website for this product? It sounds like a good alternative to esbit.
Duh! I hadn’t scrolled down the page before I sent my post. Sorry.Oct 2, 2006 at 8:59 pm #1364123
@jbairdLocale: Deleware Watergap A_T
So…what’s all this about? They all make fire/heat. water boils when you use them. Use them in one pc. or broken in two. If the water doesen’t boil…..use another one.Oct 3, 2006 at 7:05 am #1364143
David L., I think it means the tablet itself burns completely and leaves no ash. I am betting it will still leave the black junk on your pot.
I expect the tablet to work just like hexamine because that is what I think it is until proven otherwise. The energy density thing I am not sure of. Time will tell if it burns hotter than esbit.
For my water heating I use 1/4 tablet for one cup of water to heat it, not boil. I could care less about boiling. Scoring and cutting the tablets in quarters does leave granular esbit behind and more than I like.
The firelite price is cheaper than esbit on their website. Esbit can be bought for under $5 per box of 12 tablets at a couple of places.Oct 3, 2006 at 6:34 pm #1364188
John… it is Hexamine. It’s made by Portion Foods in Australia (or New Zeland). No sticky gunk would be too good to be true. In any case… it does sound like a slight improvement on Esbit… plus it’s cheaper… so I think that’s pretty cool.Oct 3, 2006 at 7:01 pm #1364192
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
Am I blind– what link/web site are you guys talking about?Oct 4, 2006 at 4:50 am #1364215
Dale: No one posted any link or website. I mentioned Portion Pack Foods (www.portionpackfoods.com) because they used to sell FireLite tablets according to a cached page on Google… but that page is no longer in the Google cache. The info I found was basically the same as what’s posted on BPL… but it did mention that the tablets were Hexamine.Oct 4, 2006 at 4:53 am #1364217
Since there seems to be no info about these tablets anywhere on the web, could someone from BPL clarify what it meant by: “do not liquefy while burning, and leave no ash residues” and quantify the “high energy density” and “hotter than Esbit” claims? Do these tablets still leave brown sticky residue on pots and esbit holders? Also, who is the manufacturer? Is it Portion Pack Foods?Nov 2, 2006 at 9:30 am #1366043
@ryanLocale: Northern Rockies
They are a hexamine based tablet, like Esbit, with a few other ingredients in them (this is what improves their energy density and combustion efficiency – heat output/tablet weight). And, such is the nature of hexamine: they’ll still leave sticky residue on a pot. No ash residue, no liquefication while burning, similar to Esbit. Portion Pack is not a manufacturer, I don’t know where they got their tablets for their food kits.Nov 2, 2006 at 10:53 am #1366052
@blewisLocale: Northern California
I’ve been reading this claim from manufacturers and others who swear these leave no black residue. Well, I know better from field experience. But just to make sure, I did a kitchen test and posted the results at
Believe me, it leaves residue that needs to be washed off or you have a mess on your hands, your clothes, your pack.Jan 16, 2007 at 3:16 pm #1374591
I just got my Firelite Ti stove and my Firelite 14g tablets, and did a quick test on my deck. I was intrigued by the claims on the page:
"FireLite Solid Fuel Tablets burn with no smoke, they have a high energy density, do not liquefy while burning, and leave no ash residues."
I put two cups of water in my SP 700, set up my wind screen, and got out one of the Firelite tabs. The first thing I noticed was that the tab didn't fit inside the stove — it's just a little too wide to fit properly. Mildly annoying. The tab lit easily with a lighter. On my open deck, with moderate breezes and temps around 45-F, the 2 cups of water took 12 minutes to boil; longer than the 7:30 listed, but okay, I'm outdoors in the breeze, so that's fine. I'll try a taller wind screen next time. I made some tea, and added two new cups of fresh water to the pot and put it back on the stove (elapsed time off the stove maybe 20 seconds). The tablet went out at 17:00, and the water was vaguely warm. Again, maybe a taller wind screen or a more protected location would work.
It's quite true that the tablets leave no 'ash' — instead my tablet left a small puddle of black liquid that partly seeped through the rivet at the bottom of the stove. It cleaned out fairly easily in my kitchen, but it would be a pain in the backcountry. This is much more annoying. There was some expected residue on the bottom of the pot, but no worse than Esbit tabs, and nothing that bothered me.
I'm going to pick up some Esbit tabs at my local outfitter and do a controlled test with both. I've used Esbit successfully in the past and have some idea what to expect, and I have to say I was somewhat disappointed with the initial test of the Firelite tabs. (I really like the stove so far, though.)
Finally, though the Firelite tabs are somewhat less expensive than Esbit, the required shipping costs make them more expensive. The 14g tabs were $15, plus $8 in shipping, making them about .66 per tab, vs about .50 for Esbit tabs.
I'll report back when I can do back-to-back tests with both brands of fuel tabs.Jan 17, 2007 at 4:14 pm #1374716
After my initial comments, above, I decided to do a slightly more controlled test of Firelite and Esbit tabs.
Set up: 12 ounces of cold tap water in my Snow Peak 700; the Firelite Ti stove; and an aluminum windscreen of the proper size. Using HALF of a fuel tab, test how long it takes to boil 12 oz of water, and how long the fuel remains lit. (I chose 12 ounces b/c that's the most common amount that I need for a freezer bag meal or coffee.)
Conditions: On my deck, temps 30-F, no wind.
Test: I burned 1/2 a Firelite tab, then cleaned the stove, cooled the pot, refilled it, and repeated the test with 1/2 an Esbit tab.
Half Firelite Tab: boiled 12 oz of water in 9 minutes, burned out after about 12 minutes. Left pool of sludge in bottom of stove.
Half Esbit Tab: Burned out after 12 minutes without ever bringing the water to a boil. There were small bubbles forming rapidly on the bottom of the pot, and some steam when I removed the lid, but it was not boiling. There was no residue of any sort left in the stove.
Conclusions: The Firelite does indeed have more heat energy than the Esbit in this test. The only downside is the sludge left in the stove, which is somewhat difficult to remove even in my kitchen sink.
For my style of backcountry cooking, I normally want to boil 12 ounces of water twice, one for my meal and one for a hot drink (e.g., oatmeal and coffee in the morning, freezer bag dinner and decaf hot tea at night). Under good conditions (no wind), the Firelite will let me do this with one tab per meal, which is great.
Finally, a word on cost. I bought 12 Esbit tabs at my local outfitter this afternoon, at a total cost of $8.01 with tax, which is the same per-tablet price as the Firelite tabs including shipping from BPL. I know I've seen the Esbit tabs for a lower price locally, but even so, given these results, it would be a false economy.
Now, if anyone could suggest what to do about that sludge, I'm all ears.
Big CrankyJan 17, 2007 at 4:28 pm #1374717
@havocLocale: North Texas
Hey Ken, not a well thought out plan but just off the top of my head, maybe you could cut a small piece of tin foil a little larger than the firelite tablet. You could take several with you, one ofr each tablet, and through them away with all the gunk in them. Turn the corners up just a bit to keep the residue from spilling out onto your stove. Good luck and thanks for the tests/review.Jan 18, 2007 at 2:47 pm #1374803
Thanks for the idea. For now I am just dumping the liquid, and letting the rest harden on the bottom of the stove. Ah well.
Follow up test, part 2. I decided to try heating 3 cups of water with a full Firelite tablet. Same conditions as yesterday, with the addition of a light freezing rain. The water boiled in 14-15 minutes, and the tablet went out in 16-17 minutes. So this is faster than using 1/2 tabs to boil 12 ounces at a time. The major downside is that 3 cups of water fills the SP700 to the brim, making it tippy and somewhat dangerous on soft ground. Not something I'd do huddled under a small tarp in a storm.Jan 18, 2007 at 7:08 pm #1374843
My experience with Esbit is similar to yours; weaker and cheaper than other tabs. But, I was surprised to read how much you are paying for them. May I suggest a froogle.com search, along with buying in quantity. If you are willing to use an off-brand, you can save more and use two at a time for the same price.. I get mine for about 16 cents each here in Japan.
Example: 24 tabs for 5.56, free stove.
http://www.trlstore.com/showproduct.aspx?productid=12384&affiliateid=10050Jan 19, 2007 at 3:53 am #1374866
@leadfootLocale: Middle Virginia
I have used those Coghlan tablets and they are equivilent to 1/2 of an Esbit. I find I need 2 tabs to perform as well as an Esbit. They are hexamine, just not the same amount per tab. And I found they just don't heat as well to boil water.
Another thing, they are round and don't fit well into the BPL Ti stove.Jan 19, 2007 at 2:17 pm #1374907
@trackerLocale: New England
Another reason to save those round Coghlan's for use as Emergency firestarter in your kit.Feb 6, 2007 at 6:36 pm #1377368
@jbairdLocale: Deleware Watergap A_T
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is?
Although I like my Coleman white gas, I always bring the Esbit and some extra tabs along too. As it turns out, unless I really want to do some cooking, the Esbit always win out. They are less powerful in the real cold, under 20 and windy. I carry a small cloth with me and wipe the bottom of the boil pot or mug. It seems to do the job.
They are light, easy to start, burn away fully, and you can just add another if one doesn’t do the trick. You will have to wait much longer before eating ‘cause they cook slow. I’ve always been uncomfortable carrying bottles of gas but that’s just me, every one does it just fine.
Of coarse, carrying 2 cooking units is not backpacking light and so I’ll drop the white gas some day but it’s like an extra blanket, if you know what I mean.
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