View Full Version : Esbit Stove Question

11-25-2014, 13:21
I had a 20 mile overnight hike this weekend and decided to give my Esbit stove a try since I only needed to heat 2 cups of water twice. I had some issues with it and I'm wondering why. First the stove itself wass the foldng model that esbit sells. Second the fuel used was a brick of esbit fuel purchased just a few days before at REI. The brick I'm referring to is the one that can be divided into 4 smaller bricks. I used a full brick. I attempted to heat 1.75 cups of water in a Snow Peak titanium pot (tall one) with a lid. I didn't use a wind screen of any sort because there was no wind at all. The air temp. was about 50 degrees. I don't know the water temp but it came from my water bottle and it was probably close to the air temp.. So, I lit the cube and let it burn. It burned about 12 minutes and the water wasn't boiling, although it was hot. I used a second cube and finally got the water boiling.

I was pretty disappointed with the performance. I used all esbit stuff and followed their instructions (as far as I could tell) and it took more than twice the fuel requirement Esbit says you need to boil less water than they specify 1.75 cups versus 2 cups). I still had a hot dinner but had to wait forever for the water to boil and used twice the fuel I expected top use. If it was super cold or windy or anything like that I could understand, but I had near ideal conditions aside from the startinmg water temperature.

Can anyone provide some ideas why I may have had these problems? I really liked the esbit for a short backpack otherwise ... light and simple.

11-25-2014, 13:48
Use a wind screen. (1) even just a one or two mph breeze will kill the performance of a stove, and (2) it reflects heat back to the pot that is otherwise going out into the world. You want to create a tiny little hot microclimate around the pot.

For real efficiency the pyramid type systems (http://antigravitygear.com/product-tag/caldera-kitchen/) are unbeatable with solid fuel.

Just Bill
11-25-2014, 13:49
This stove or the TI one with three legs?

The fold up box style is a pretty bad stove overall, it does a poor job of concentrating heat and many find they need two tabs.

Windy or not- a windscreen is pretty well mandatory for an Esbit stove as it concentrates the heat as well.

Check out the Gram Cracker stove from Trail designs- you will see that it has the little wings on the sides that prevent/slow the burn rate of each tab. Often the tabs themselves burn too fast and don't fully boil as a result. This "stove" helps get the most from each tab. You can make one from a pop can too.

The most efficient Esbit stove is a Caldera Cone. You can make homemade ones from aluminum flashing, or buy them in AL or TI.

The Esbit box stove- 2 tabs is not uncommon
A windscreen and some version of the gram cracker- 1 tab
A good Caldera Cone can boil 2 cups with as little as half a tab.

Very good fuel, about the lightest you can get- but requires a good stove system to get that benefit.

11-25-2014, 14:03
Thanks for the replies. It was the fold up box stove ... nothing fancy. It worked but like I said very poor performance. I used the 14g tabs ... two of them. For breakfast I mooched hot water from my fellow hiker. I didn't wan to wait 20 minutes for a cup of coffee and some hot soup.

11-25-2014, 14:17
The thing about Esbit is the flame size is dependent on the remaining Esbit. So as the water nears a boil, needs more heat to kick it over that level that is about the time the Esbit tablet really is diminished in size. So you have less heat at the time you need it the most.

The less then ideal solution I have found is use those 1/4's of the brick, and also save the partly used ones, and add them at the appropriate time. The goal is to maintain a good flame for the entire burn. I believe with this you will be able to achieve the boiling you desire with the equivalent of 1 brick, however you may burn in the process ignite as much as 1.5 bricks, but recover 0.5 bricks for alter use.

11-25-2014, 14:19
The advice here is excellent.

I don't like the odor of Esbit. There are also Weber fire cubes. I think that is the name. http://store.weber.com/accessories/category/cook/tools/1324 24 cubes $4.27

I have never had those.

I had found WetFire, online first. The odor is better, than Esbit, in my pack. The Wet Fire is in individually sealed packaging.

11-25-2014, 14:22
is there any degradation of esbit if you blow out the flame? ...doesn't seem to be a problem, but thought i'd ask.

Just Bill
11-25-2014, 14:29
Thanks for the replies. It was the fold up box stove ... nothing fancy. It worked but like I said very poor performance. I used the 14g tabs ... two of them. For breakfast I mooched hot water from my fellow hiker. I didn't wan to wait 20 minutes for a cup of coffee and some hot soup.

Your experience is fairly typical of that stove.
I think the only reason it still sells is that it's a great thing to toss in a car or emergency kit.
The only redeeming feature is you can use it as a wood burner if needed.
I would return it if you are able- or keep it on the shelf at home for emergency home use. The tabs store for a long time, though after a year or two slowly loose efficiency.

Just Bill
11-25-2014, 14:34
is there any degradation of esbit if you blow out the flame? ...doesn't seem to be a problem, but thought i'd ask.

No issue ever for me, it does form really neat crystalline structures though.

I have an old 35mm film can I keep the partials in. They are good for firestarters and afternoon cups of tea. You can always pile a few up too if you end up with too many.

I've never kept them for more than a day or two though, perhaps long term it's an issue once the chemical process is started. It seems like there is a bit of coating on them (why they are hard to light).

Tipi Walter
11-25-2014, 14:35
Here is my friend Amy's esbit stove in my tent vestibule during a Pisgah backpacking trip---


11-25-2014, 15:58
forget about the fold up box style stand, all you really need to do is take a soda can cut the bottom couple inches off then place you esbit cube on the can then place three tent stakes in a triangle fashion around the can push the stakes in deep enough where your pot sits about an inch above the can " you need to play around with the height, different style pots calls for different heights ", fashion a wind screen out of aluminum foil ,place wind screen on the outside of tent stakes, voila perfect warm weather stove in conjunction with a fosters pot this could be considered a UL stove. it only weighs a few ounces.

Or just fashion a couple rocks place esbit cube between the rocks, the rocks will act like a pot stand and a wind screen.

I think your issue was that you had no wind screen, always use a wind screen no matter how calm it is.

Good Luck and happy hiking.

11-25-2014, 16:08
I was thinking of taking Esbit as a backup to a canister. But with the Esbits, stand, windscreen, might as well carry an extra small canister when the 1st canister is half through.

11-25-2014, 16:32
try using your Esbit burner like this :

11-25-2014, 16:40
I think the main thing you were missing as others have pointed out is a windscreen. I get 2 cups of water to a rolling boil with one Esbit tab with no trouble, and if the water is not really cold, even 3 cups will usually boil.

11-25-2014, 17:19
I have one of the super light three legged ti esbit stoves. I use the half-ounce Esbit brick fuel. If you use a windscreen with this set-up, it should work like a charm. This is my go-to warm weather stove setup down south here. :)

11-26-2014, 22:15
Thanks folks. The lack of a wind screen seems to be my problem. I'd use the esbit system again and it worked for me in this situation, just not very efficiently. I guess that a wind screen even if there's no wind contains most of the heat instead of letting it spill out. I'm going to reconfigure and try again. The folding esbit box stove is a lot more stout than it needs to be, but I like it because it requires no fiddling. I don't want to have to fiddle around too much building a "stove" out of rocks, tent stacks, etc to save an ounce or two...there are many options so it's time to start shopping. I've had the folding box stove for ten years ... This past weekend it seemed time to give it a try.

12-01-2014, 17:44
I did a test using esbit, alcohol soda can and propane. Under same conditions using windscreen at around 50* little or no wind. 12 ozs water. Esbit did not boil water. Propane was by far the fastest with less fuel consumption. Got rid of the esbit due to poor performance and cost of fuel.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

12-01-2014, 22:14
That folding Esbit stove was a dismal failure for me, too, and never brought a cup of water to a boil when I "tested" it several years ago on a dayhike. Matter of fact, I think even used a second Esbit tab. It was cold and a little windy, though. Regardless, the stove found its way into the trash when I got home. I tried the smaller hexamine tabs with my Bushcooker LT mini from fourdogstoves, and it worked great(at home in my kitchen-haven't used that combo in the field). 14g of hexamine brought 24oz of water to a full boil at 8min 6sec and continued to burn for several minutes afterwards. That's only ~30sec slower than the fourdog alcohol stove boiled the same amount of water. Perhaps being full enclosed in a windscreen makes a big difference holding the heat in, even with wind not a factor, but it's hard to tell when this test was indoors and 50 degrees warmer. I'm looking forward to trying it this winter, to see how it does at sub-freezing temps.

12-01-2014, 22:59
The commonest problem with the folding Esbit stove (apart from lack of windscreen usage) is that many, if not most , open up the stove fully.
They are meant to be used as in the photo I posted above.
BTW, that is NOT my idea, they are designed to be used like that...

12-02-2014, 08:46
I have had similar problems with my Esbit stove. It used so many cubes of fuel to boil water it did not save any weight. Now I'm back to my MSR pocket rocket.

12-02-2014, 08:58
Never had a problem with mine, always worked fine except for the black stuff on my pot, it just washes off but alcohol is so much cleaner.