Aug 15, 2014 at 9:07 am #1319963
I recently stockpiled a slew of 14 gm. Bleuet fuel tabs when REI Outlet was selling them cheap. I've only done a couple of patio tests to learn how they compare with the Esbit brand, but it looks like they deposit about the same amount of gunk on the bottom of the pot. It also seems like they might take a little longer to bring the 2-cups to a boil, and that more of the tab was used to achieve the boil. Does anyone have anything they can share about the relative performance of the Bleuet tabs as compared with Esbit? By the way, B.G. said his Bleuet tabs were pink, but mine are a rather sexy rust color–much better than pink…Aug 15, 2014 at 9:20 am #2127832
"By the way, B.G. said his Bleuet tabs were pink, but mine are a rather sexy rust color–much better than pink…"
Gary, when you check color, why don't you remove your sunglasses?
When I see the Bleuet package in the store, I never have multiple packages to compare. The first package that I purchased had pink cubes. Others have seemed more like orange. We don't know whether Bleuet does that by cosmetic intention or maybe it is just a function of the impurities that get mixed in. Maybe it shows age since manufacture. Whatever the exact color shade is, it just reminds me of which brand it is that is different from Esbit.
What would be nice is if they marketed an advanced model, maybe blue in color, that would boil water 20% faster. You would pay extra for that, wouldn't you?
Then there would be the purple model that would boil water an additional 20% faster than that. That would kick the competition in the butt.
–B.G.–Aug 15, 2014 at 9:40 am #2127838
I doubt that the French could come up with a faster boil, Bob. Maybe the Germans, though…?
My Bleuet tabs seem to have a bit of parafin in them. Not as much as the Firelite tabs, but I did notice a wee bit of waxy liquid that leaked through my Brian Green clone tab holder.
Bob, so how do you think the Bleuet tabs compare to the Esbit, besides the color?Aug 15, 2014 at 10:05 am #2127850
Gary, I have never done a fair side-by-side comparison. I just use them in the field. I think the two brands are close enough that I just purchase the one that is most available with the cheapest price.
Maybe a manufacturer will make a version with flames that are more visible, or maybe a version what leaves zero burnt residue. Maybe somebody will figure out how to reduce the packaging by 50%.
–B.G.–Aug 15, 2014 at 10:44 am #2127864
I found esbit produced significantly less crud on my pot in testing them both. May have to do with the air supply the tight windscreen allows. Esbit tab leftovers were much less fuzzy and messy as well.Aug 15, 2014 at 10:49 am #2127865
"Esbit tab leftovers were much less fuzzy and messy as well."
I assume you mean if you extinguish a half-burned cube. Yes, a fuzzy crystalline surface may form, and that seems to be a function of the ambient air temperature around the Esbit burner as it cools.
Personally, I think the fuzzy crystalline surface is a good thing since it speeds re-lighting. After a time, the surface collapses.
–B.G.–Aug 21, 2014 at 7:52 am #2129143
OK, B.G., my patio test results confirm that Esbit tabs are clearly superior to the Bleuet ones.Aug 21, 2014 at 11:02 am #2129202
"Esbit tabs are clearly superior"
How so, Professor Dunckel?
–B.G.–Aug 21, 2014 at 11:19 am #2129210
Ah yes, so superior are the Esbit tabs. You will find out in a soon-to-be-published detailed analysis in an esteemed scientific journal. I haven't decided whether to submit it to Scientific American, or if it should be sent to that other distinguished publication, Backpacker Magazine. Waiting is the hardest part, huh?
But if you just can't wait, how about if we do a pay-per-view thing, where you send a PayPal payment to the Dunckel Fresh Air and Exercise Fund? It has an Esbit Tablet Replacement sub-account (please gift the money, or add 3%).Aug 21, 2014 at 11:21 am #2129214
You could set up a web cam showing your patio and all of the Esbit residue piling up there.
–B.G.–Aug 21, 2014 at 4:49 pm #2129310
OK, so since -B.G.- didn't gift me a bunch of cash for the results of my patio testing, and since Scientific American wanted me to pay THEM to look at my test results, I've decided to send this into the realm of public domain. Keep in mind that this is a very un-scientific report, but it sheds a bit of light on the comparison of Bleuet tablets vs. the Esbit brand. At least it convinced me that Esbit is the superior fuel tablet.
The test sample size is small–just 2 burns with each tablet type in different stove setups. The following photo shows 5 of them (I forgot to include the Esbit brand folding metal stove, with which I used with an aluminum foil windscreen). From left to right: Titanium wing stove (from BPL) with windscreen and a 3" ti base plate; BPL 550 pot with screen, a MYOG triangular pot support, and a tab holder made from the bottom of a Pepsi can (and also a Brian Green-type titanium tab holder in the foreground); a MYOG 550 pot cone clone with a large base plate; a Heineken pot/cone with a small base plate.
(Edit to add a photo of the 550 pot setup–this shows the unburned Bleuet ash after flame-out, and also an oily yellow deposit on the pot bottom)
Here's the history of my tab holders, pot support height, and windscreen diameter: First, I made a screen that would snugly fit around the legs of the wing stove. This stabilizes the screen so that wind won't move it around. It happened to provide the right amount of space between the screen and the 550 pot for proper exhaust of the gases. I then made a Brian Green tab holder from titanium foil, and I measured the height from the table surface to the top of the fuel tablet. I then made a tab holder from the bottom of a small Pepsi can that would place the tablet at the same height. Next, I made one of my ti pot supports that would snugly fit inside the wind screen, and which had a height to place the pot bottom 1.25" above the tablet (which I think is close to optimal). The idea here was to make everything interchangable–screens, pot support, and tablet holders.
I did 2 tests of each configuration with each brand of tablet, with the exception of the wing stove where I did just one test for each fuel type. The following is the list of the 2-cup boil times (in minutes) for each stove setup, and also the ambient air temperature (where I remembered to write it down). My cold tap water is 63* F, and my patio elevation is 5440'.
550 pot, screen, Brian Green tab holder (ambient air temp. 73* F, no breeze):
Bleuet #1-14:00 ( tab seal was broken when bought, so maybe tab was defective)
550 pot, screen, Pepsi stove (air temp. 77* F, no breeze)
550 pot, screen, wing stove (air temp. 60* F, no breeze)–one test only per tab brand
Esbit #1- 10:15
Esbit brand metal folding stove, screen (air temp. 66* F, no breeze)
#2-13:00 (bad tab?)
Heineken cone, Pepsi tab holder, 3" base plate (air temp. 74* F, mild breeze)
(the boiling times were essentially the same for both tab types, and it was the only case where that was true).
All of the above tests were done using a 3" diameter titanium base plate under the stove.
550 cone, Pepsi tab holder, full base plate (air temp. 62* F, no breeze)
(Note: the tab-to-pot distance was 1.5", as opposed to 1.25 for all other tests)
Possible variables that might have affected performance of the stoves and tablets:
Ambient air temperatures, and also the presence of a slight breeze vs. no breeze
Pepsi tab holder height–1.25" vs. 1.5" for the 550 cone setup
Base plate diameter; a larger one will likely hold in more heat than a small one
(however the same plates were used for both tablet types)
The 550 cone is more efficient than the Heineken cone, likely due to a wider pot
bottom diameter. The 550 cone beat all other stove configurations.
The wing stove seemed to be equal to the other stoves, despite the tab-to-pot
distance being only 0.75". However, it did leave a significant amount of oily
residue on the pot, which suggests incomplete combustion. A wider pot that could
rest on top of the supports might raise it by .25", which might minimize the
Possible variance among tablets of the same brand; Bleuet showed less consistancy.
The Pepsi can tab holder was more efficient than the Brian Green clone. However, the BG clone burns longer, possibly due to the sides slowing the burn down.
The Esbit tablets burned completely, leaving almost no ash. The Bleuet, however always left a small amount of unburned fuel. Bleuet also seemed to deposit a small amount of oily residue on the pot bottom, which might be a result of incomplete combustion. Otherwise both tablet brands seemed to deposit about the same amount of normal residue. All of these deposits were easily washed off.
Bottom line for me is this: Esbit is the superior fuel. Bleuet works OK, but not as well as Esbit.
OK, fire away, folks. If you have any scathing criticism beyond what I can handle, I will cheerfully refer you to my agent, Bob Gross. (OK, now to post this, and then go back and correct my spelling/syntax errors before -B.G.- jumps all over me).Aug 21, 2014 at 5:11 pm #2129320
Gary, now we are waiting for the web cam view of the patio tests. I assume that will be full high definition video showing it all.
What color were your Bleuet tablets? White, pink, or orange?
Then, was there any difference in the flame color?
–B.G.–Aug 21, 2014 at 5:50 pm #2129330
Bob, the Bleuet tabs are a fashionable russet color (pretty much orange, if you will). And of course the flames were pink. Pretty pink flames…
Nah, they both had an orange flame. Bleuet is a bit more oily, and I suspect it has a bit of parafin in it. Made it China. I don't know about Esbit and where it's made.
You don't want to see my place on a web cam. It looks like a Gaza bomb site right now. First the basement flooding, which required a quick $12k exterior sump system. They cut the electric line to my well, so I was without any water for 10 days (except for the sump pump effluent, which I used in solar shower bags to wash my body). The electrician screwed up the well wire splice job and fried the well pump. There went another $7.5k.
There was the need to dig up one of the outside sump pumps and drop it deeper. Then all of a sudden, they shut off the farmers' ditch up and behind me, as the heavy snow pack had finally melted, and they no longer needed to send all of our runoff to Nebraska. The water table dropped, so no more basement seepage. The new well pump works nicely now. But I had to dig a trench for the sump pump electrical line (if I never dig another trench it will be too soon). I developed a minor hernia by doing that, but I scored a group of "troubled" young dudes in a rehab home to come over and fill the trench after the electrical line was laid. Gotta love community service…
The good news is that my homeowner's insurance will cover the entire basement issue, no small thing at all. This is good, because I learned today that my 1964 vintage house has a lot of asbestos down there. So I get to watch guys in level A suits destroy my basement and disrupt my life further for 4-5 days. Then there will be a near-total re-do down there. I also get a new roof, due to a separate hail storm in July. So when this is finally over, everything in the place will be brand new. I just get to look forward to a major landscape project next summer after the dirt finally settles.
So be glad that you're not me. After a month of being pretty bummed, full of self-pity, etc., I had an epiphany a couple weeks ago. I realized that I've enjoyed countless good summers in my life, and that it's OK to have a crappy one this year. I miss hiking and sleeping in the woods, but I'm rather under a sort of house arrest this summer, needing to attend to all these contractors, insurance people, and the ongoing work around the place.
Esbit is superior.Aug 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm #2129333
Sorry to hear about all of the house problems. If the well runs dry, you could always buy bottled water. ( ! ) Maybe not.
After you get the other house problems straightened out, you need to get the railroad siding completed. You want to be able to receive rail shipments of Esbit fuel, don't you?
–B.G.–Aug 21, 2014 at 7:28 pm #2129343
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Und you VILL like it!
ESBIT UBER ALLES!
Well, enough with my attempt at Prussian humor. But Actually I've found Firefly to be just a bit hotter. Now if I could only find another source since BPL quit selling it.
Herr Dunkle, thanks for the tests. Suspicions confirmed.
It heartens me to see someone else with TWICE as many ESBIT stoves as I have. I'm not as sick as my wife thinks. ;0)Aug 21, 2014 at 8:46 pm #2129367
I've never used Bluet tablets but I do use both Esbit and Coghlans.
I can buy them locally for about $3.50 and have found, ounce for ounce, Coghlans to be pretty comparable to Esbit at half the price. One thing that I really appreciate about them is that each tablet is .25 oz vs the Esbit which is roughly .5 ounce per tablet. I only use .25 oz of fuel per meal so in addition to the monetary savings, I like that I can just let the fuel burn itself out instead of cutting an Esbit tablet in half or blowing it out. Not a huge inconvenience to do either of those things but I find Coghlans tablets work better for me. I may not get 16oz of water to a full boil but it's dang close and more than hot enough to re hydrate a meal.
The only real difference I see between the two is that the Esbit residue is sticky and less so with Coghlans.Aug 21, 2014 at 8:56 pm #2129373
I've also used Coghlans, but with inferior results. Around here, they cost about half the Esbit price, but they are half the fuel mass, so there doesn't appear to be any real cost savings.
–B.G.–Aug 21, 2014 at 9:03 pm #2129377
I can get a 24 pack of Coghlans (total 6oz) for $3.50 or a 12 pack (again 6oz) of Esbit for $7.something at REI.Aug 21, 2014 at 9:06 pm #2129379
The REI stores around here would rather sell overpriced clothing than anything useful like solid fuel.
–B.G.–Aug 21, 2014 at 9:13 pm #2129382
Our town and surrounding area's population is roughly 150k but then there's miles of desert before you'll find civilization again… that is if Yakima can be called civilization (kidding guys). As a result, we only have a broom closet sized REI and a Sportsman Warehouse. REI doesn't seem all that keen on carrying anything but Esbit and Sportsman Warehouse stopped carrying Coghlans.
I just found a local military surplus store carrying Coghlans for $3.50 and had to refrain from clicking my heels and "wahooing" in the store. I'm trying to play it coy like I can find them anywhere for that price in town and am fearful that if I clean him out, he'll jack up the price when they return. I'll probably just play it safe and grab them all and if I do, I shouldn't have to buy any more before I retire in six years, eleven months, and three days.
Of course maybe I should be sharing all this on the hoarding thread in Chaff…
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