Nov 21, 2012 at 7:36 am #1296278
@markrvpLocale: North Texas
I've never used Esbit, so I wanted to ask when/why you would use it vs an alcohol stove? Is it that Esbit is only .5 oz. per boil as opposed to 1 oz. of alcohol? Can Esbit be found easily on a through hike as opposed to Heet which can be found at many convenience stores? It appears that Esbit is considerably more expensive.Nov 21, 2012 at 7:52 am #1930113
Nate BoyerBPL Member
Great topic. I've been exploring home made alcohol stoves the last few months. I just purchased a $15 esbit stand. Lets discuss this!
All I know is that the solid fuel is going to work much better in cold, or high elevation places.Nov 21, 2012 at 8:01 am #1930116
I've timed Esbit and Alky – Esbit is faster. But Esbit is less convenient for the reasons you mentioned.
Esbit is harder to light, but you can just strike and lay a stormproof match alongside the Esbit tab instead of messing around with lighters, etc. when your fingers are cold.
Esbit tends to coat the bottom of cookware, tends to stink, fumes are hazardous, tabs will "evaporate" slowly if not sealed, and can be hard to find fuel tabs.
The original Esbit stove is cheap, bomb-proof, available everywhere, can accommodate different width cups/mugs and packs small.Nov 21, 2012 at 8:11 am #1930123
Robert KellyBPL Member
@qiwizLocale: UL gear @ QiWiz.net
Alcohol is easier to obtain, and cheaper on trail, though you might have to buy more than you need (12 oz HEET is a reasonable quantity, but still 12 oz). I like alcohol for weekend trips.
Esbit has more BTU's/oz. I find that a half tab will heat up, but not boil, two cups of water, while a full tab will bring 3 cups of water to a boil in most conditions. I can get by with two tabs (one ounce) of Esbit a day to heat up 4 cups of water for dinner and two for breakfast.
I would have to carry 1.5 oz/day of alcohol to do the same thing.
So, I like Esbit for extended trips where I will be carrying 4-10 days of food, as it minimizes my fuel weight.
For a 3-week AT section hike, I mailed myself Esbit in resupply boxes so that I did not have to worry about finding or buying fuel on trail. This worked well for me, but means I can't tell you how easy it would have been to find it. One box is 12 tabs, which would be enough for 6 days of use for me.Nov 21, 2012 at 8:15 am #1930124
All you ever wanted to know abut Esbit vs Alcohol and some you didn't. ;-)
Expense – Newton said…
"It wasn't a sale, but I did find and purchase a 12 pack of the Bleuet solid fuel tablets at a local Academy Sports and Outdoors. The price was $4.99 / 12. After sales tax I was out the door minus $5.43. So every time I fire up a $.45 solid fuel tablet I can amuse myself by thinking how much cheaper it is to heat up my water this way than using my alcohol stove and Everclear!"
Advantages – Jon said…
"1) When you knock you stove over, Esbit won't spill over and create a large fire like alcohol.
2) It is suppose to work at ambient temperatures lower than what DA works at
3) It is suppose to work better at higher elevations than DA
4) it is easier to put out the flame and re-use
5) easy to ship by land
6) it is a "more acceptable" fuel to transport on boats"
"A good Esbit cooking system will boil 3 cups of water using a 14 gram block of Esbit. An outstanding System will boil 4 cups of water (very rare). A good alcohol system will boil 2 cups of water using 15 ml.
(15 ml)*(.78 s.g.) = 11.7 grams of alcohol to boil 2 cups
11.7 grams (3 cups/ 2cups) = 17.55 grams of alcohol to boil 3 cups of water
14 grams of Esbit / 17.55 grams of alcohol = 0.7977 Therefore Esbit wins."
Disadvantages – Ken said…
"The residue wipes off easily if you don't let it cool off and set up."
and Jon said…
"There are negatives like odor, soot and a funky MSDS, but Esbit does have a place in this world."
Put your stove in a dedicated zip lock bag before storing it in your cook pot.
Use a dedicated round bottom stuff sack to store your cook pot and "apply" the stuff sack around the cook pot as if you were rolling up a sock around it. This will keep the soot in a localized area of the stuff sack.
NewtonNov 21, 2012 at 9:15 am #1930137
Esbit is hard to light, puts gunk on your pot,leaves a messy gunk covered esbit support tray, and is a pain to save the little left over bits (very messy). They also smell, even thru small ziplock.
It could be slightly lighter than alcohol in some cases. Very slightly, mostly due to the lack of need for an alcohol container ~1oz,. I routinely boil 2 cups on 0.4 oz (wt) alcohol.
The drawbacks make it not attractive to me most of the time. I would rather carry an extra 2 ounces than deal with the mess.
However it can be mailed to mail drops (alcohol or cannisters cannot).
It also makes a great fire starter in wet conditions. Weber sells it, or something similiar, as a fire starter for starting charcoal.Nov 21, 2012 at 9:16 am #1930138
I've been using Coglahns tabs instead, they are about 1/4th the cost and come smaller than esbit. Esbit sure has done well marketing, but when it comes down to it you are paying for the name.Nov 21, 2012 at 10:09 am #1930154
Steve C. said,
"You can mail canisters, I have done it (legally). The box must be labeled so that it is ground only transport."
Ken T. said,
"You can mail alcohol also…
Hazardous flammable materials (HAZMAT) require special handling, so please remember that your delivery will take just a little longer than normal deliveries.
In accordance with regulations, all deliveries must be via ground only (air transport is not permitted)."
For informational purposes here is a link to more on the subject of shipping fuel.
NewtonNov 21, 2012 at 10:20 am #1930158
Maybe I should have said it doesnt make sense to mail cannisters or alcohol. You can, but the surcharge generally makes it ridiculously expensive for small amounts, and it of course has to go by ground.
Few in their right mind would buy a $5 cannister and then it costs ~ $15 to mail it.Nov 21, 2012 at 10:28 am #1930163
John HarperBPL Member
@johnnyh88Locale: The SouthWest
I'll disagree about Esbit brand tabs versus others. I have friends who have used Coghlan's or other brands and my Esbit tabs consistently burn twice as long.Nov 21, 2012 at 10:52 am #1930166
The info below was gleaned from…
…after scrolling roughly 2/3rds down the page.
One Esbit tab weighs ~14gm (~0.5oz)
Two Coghlan’s tabs weigh ~13gm (0.47oz)
I'm just guessing here, but all things being equal, I'd say that 1 Esbit tab would burn just a little bit longer than 2 Coghlan’s tabs.
Do your single Esbit tabs burn twice as long as a single or a pair of Coghlan's tabs?
NewtonNov 21, 2012 at 10:56 am #1930167
I can get a rolling boil with 1 Coghlans tab.
It's not even close, your paying for the name.
Edit: This is under ideal conditions, but still I cant justify spending 5x more on something even if it performs slightly better. (which is not proven).Nov 21, 2012 at 10:57 am #1930169
Tony WongBPL Member
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I think that each has their merrits and picking one vs. another dependings on the trip that you are taking.
If you are looking at a short three day weekend trip, then the weight difference between the two is negligible…pick the one that you like best/prefer.
Esbits are going to a little more hassle to deal with vs. the easy of lighting an alcohol stove.
The longer your trip, the more attractive Esbit is going to look because of the weight savings over alcohol.
However, alcohol can have the advantage of cost and availability to be bought just about anywhere.
On my JMT trip last year, we were relying on the ability to buy Esbit at two different resupply points (we had called ahead, before starting the trip and they both assured us that they had plenty in stock) but upon arriving there they had sold out.
Fortunately, we were able to conserve the tablets we had left and made them stretch out to the end of the trip.
Anyway, point of it is that each has their merrits, but like any UL/Lightweight trip….you are going to use different tools depending on the conditions that you come across.
Perhaps the availability of being able to buy or ship more of the respective fuel would be the biggest factor in chosing one vs. the other?
-TonyNov 21, 2012 at 11:14 am #1930171
Do you order the Coghlan’s tabs or pick them up locally.
I've found them online as little as $2.15 but with $9.99 shipping for 24!
I get 12 Bleuet solid fuel tablets at Academy for $5.43 including tax and as far as I can tell are identical in size to Esbit tabs.
NewtonNov 21, 2012 at 11:20 am #1930172
John HarperBPL Member
@johnnyh88Locale: The SouthWest
Typically, I will start with one Esbit tab and my friend with one Coghlan tab. After awhile, his tab burns out and he has to use another one. His second one will then usually finish burning and my Esbit will finish a minute or two later. This has happened several times.
I didn't know about the weight difference – this makes the Coghlans tabs seem more attractive for when I only need to boil 1 cup.Nov 21, 2012 at 11:27 am #1930173
Newton, I can not remember how much I paid, but I will find out next time I buy them. $2-3 I think…Nov 21, 2012 at 12:38 pm #1930196
"I didn't know about the weight difference – this makes the Coghlans tabs seem more attractive for when I only need to boil 1 cup."
This is my point exactly and why I asked Michael about the "local" availability of the Coghlans tabs.
Pictured below is my go to 1 cup generic cook pot from Zelph's on my combination pot stand and windscreen.
Underneath the cook pot and behind the combo screen / stand is my tray type stove.
What to do with a partially used tablet was one of my questions during another earlier thread on this same subject.
If I could get consistent 1 cup boils out of the single Coghlans tabs and they were significantly cheaper than Esbit and Bleuet the choice would be simple. My problem is the lack of local availability.
NewtonNov 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm #1930202
I noticed recently that LiteTrail is selling 4g Esbit tablets in packs of 20. Might be a good choice for smaller boils or even adding to the standard 14g Esbit tab to get a few extra minutes of burn time opposed to adding another 14g tablet and having a bunch leftover.
I have always preferred Esbit over alcohol mainly because of the simplicity. No measuring, no spills, no fuel bottle. For me it's easier to predict my fuel consumption for a trip with Esbit. The smell sucks but I store it in an odor proof bag so it's not much of an issue. Soot doesn't bother me because I primarily use wood as my fuel which is much worse than Esbit in regards to mess.Nov 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm #1930219
Jason GBPL Member
@jasongLocale: iceberg lake
+1 on esbit for me. I bring a mix of the esbit brand and the small coghlans depending if im doing breakfeast, coffee, dinner or after din hot choc.
Although if I were doing a trip longer than 15-20 days (or thruhiking) I would do alk.Nov 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm #1930223
I have to admit that Lite Trail is much more reasonable with their shipping but it seems to me that I would need 2 of the 4 gram tablets to assure a boil.
Shipping USA – USPS – 3.00oz: $1.95
The price is for 20, 4 gram tablets which is quite competitive with my local availability of 14 gram Bleuet at Academy.
NewtonNov 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm #1930253
There are going to be haters on both sides – as is already obvious from above.
I will simply say this:
Over the last five hiking seasons there have been three major forest fires started by PCT hikers.
All three of those fires were hikers using alcohol based stoves.
Decide for yourself.Nov 22, 2012 at 8:47 pm #1930464
Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Those 3 probably would have started a fire with Esbit too.Nov 22, 2012 at 9:16 pm #1930469
Jason GBPL Member
@jasongLocale: iceberg lake
"There are going to be haters on both sides"
YEA GOD DA*NIT I HATE HATE HATE ALK STOVES!!!!! F'EM ALL TO HELL
.. but anyway was anyone really 'hating' on either? it just sounded like preferences to meNov 22, 2012 at 9:18 pm #1930470
Those 3 probably would have started a fire with Esbit too.
lolol – well said.Nov 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm #1930734
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
I'm an ESBIT fanboy. Despite ESBIT or FireLite's residue on pot bottoms I love the stuff. I just wipe the pot bottom after each use, much as I would clean out the inside of the pot.
I have found, after decades of trying different stoves and fiddling with my own, that the Caldera Cone stove/GramCracker tab holder is THE most efficient way to go. I have realized a 30% fuel savings with that setup. My search is over – unless a solid rocket fuel stove comes on the market. (May it please God this comes to pass.)
If you go with a Caldera Cone I recommend the pricier Tri Ti or ti Sidewinder stoves with their matching pots. Then you gan get the optional Inferno insert and burn wood. This is, in my experience, the most efficient gassifier wood stove made, and also the lightest. It works great for winter camping, where high fuel consumption is a problem.
While the Tri Ti or Sidewinder cones may not burn with quite the efficiency of a Bushbuddy it is so close that the ti Cone's heat retention efficiency easily pushes it past the BushBuddy. Plus it takes larger pieces of fuel so (unlike the Bush Buddy) you don't have to tend it constantly.
Also ALL Caldera cone stoves come with Trail Designs' proprietary alky stove that they have developed to work best at all altitudes. This is nice if you want to use alcohol for some (unknown to me ;o) reason.
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