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  1. #21
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    Thanks Bill for your exhaustive description. I agree completely, one thing I learned that I really need a cone-type of stove to improve my Esbit use.

  2. #22
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    Some food for thought - I through hiked the AT in 2016 using exclusively esbit. I packaged esbit and mailed to myself a few times and bought it the rest. I often carried more than necessary but I also only used ~2 full size cubes every three days. I use a caldera cone system with the original gram cracker and the 600ml evernew wide pot/coozy setup to cook dinner/boil/heat up water for dinner.

    I admit it is a little difficult to get used to but I find that I enjoy taking time with dinner/food and don't mind the extra time it takes to boil. I also find that I am doing things in that time that I would have to do anyways so really no wasted time at all.

  3. #23
    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo L. View Post
    Thanks Bill for your exhaustive description. I agree completely, one thing I learned that I really need a cone-type of stove to improve my Esbit use.
    Excellent adjective selection.
    Yar... the caldera cone is the key. While there are downsides to Esbit use, especially without an efficient stove... the caldera cone system is truly a 'greater than the sum of it's parts' item.
    It's not for everyone but much like a well dialed pack I find the harmony of it fits well and enhances my trip.
    Quote Originally Posted by eblanche View Post
    Some food for thought - I through hiked the AT in 2016 using exclusively esbit. I packaged esbit and mailed to myself a few times and bought it the rest. I often carried more than necessary but I also only used ~2 full size cubes every three days. I use a caldera cone system with the original gram cracker and the 600ml evernew wide pot/coozy setup to cook dinner/boil/heat up water for dinner.

    I admit it is a little difficult to get used to but I find that I enjoy taking time with dinner/food and don't mind the extra time it takes to boil. I also find that I am doing things in that time that I would have to do anyways so really no wasted time at all.
    I too really like how it integrates into my style, especially on a trail like the AT. I still like doing maildrops and don't find it one of the easiest fuels to deal with since it cannot spill or result in a held shipment.
    That 600ml evernew wide pot is one of the finest systems IMO as well.

    When the weather is decent enough it is truly enjoyable to stop at a shelter and have dinner with other hikers. Partly being Italian, partly being a dawn til dusk walker I really like the slow down for the evening meal as well.
    There are always chores to do, and I like to take that time to set up my pack for the evening, wash up, stretch, and just visit. I don't feel tied to the stove or stuck watching it. It won't tip, blow over, blow out, or overboil.

    If those at the shelter want it, I'll gather some wood and brew an extra coffee then pull the stove and start the fire. Some nights I'll stay until bedtime and walk on into the night, others I'll head out after dinner... but it's nice to share a meal and a fire. That's an opportunity that makes the AT unique and special fer me.

  4. #24

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    I want to believe in the Esbit...

    I've tried boiling water at home on three different occassions. No boil. Last night: three tabs, no boil, and gave up after 15 minutes. I can't rely on this at 4500 ft on top of a mountain if it doesn't work in a controlled environment at home. Is 197F as good as it gets? (ie, no rolling boil?)

    I've tried the small and large sized tabs. In the photos below, I'm using a DIY aluminum screen, Toaks titanium 750ml pot, and esbit stove.

    Is the caldera the key? Suggestions? (Would prefer Something DIY or inexpensive as I've already got a number of other expensive stove systems.)

    My cooking needs: hot water for morning tea, hot water for hydrating evening meal (dehydrated like MountainHouse or similar).





    Sent from my VS990 using Tapatalk

  5. #25
    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    Yar... you got a few things going.

    Not being a thermodynamic specialist I can't quite run through all the physics reasons that ain't working but I know the gist.

    First and easy one... you might need fresh tabs. And cooking with that volume of liquid I wouldn't bother with the little guys again.
    Given your picture of the incompletely burned tab on the esbit wing stove you probably have a bad batch... or it's just that stove.
    I doubt you have a heat sink issue (like you might with an alchy stove) but it's possible.

    The second issue... is that pot. No matter the fuel- short and wide beats tall and narrow on the fuel efficiency race.
    Avoiding physics; common sense tells us that the wider the pot- the more surface area exposed to the heatsource without any spilling over the side of the pot and being wasted.
    There is some issue with heating a column of water too but that's fancy talk.

    The windscreen isn't doing much for you in the house and any chimney effect you'd get is venting right out the top of it anyway.

    If you make it past the smell- As I mentioned somewhere in this thread... Esbit can be pretty uninspiring fuel when used with a standard setup and that's usually the dealbreaker for most.


    So with what you got...

    You could try tightening up your windscreen to the pot diameter or even building a cone shape to trap that last bit of heat you might need to do the job.

    Given you mentioned using the stove only for hot tea and/or mountain house meals... I'd suggest measuring out 1.5 cups of water and giving that a go as well.
    I do note your pot is not full up, but you might be surprised given the pot shape what reducing the water volume might do for you.
    One trick some find has merit is to fill the pot up with a cup or so and then fill further. Though that is annoying to be sure... I've heard some of the 4g tab esbit nerds discuss that option.

    That stove may not be the best or ideal fuel tab to pot distance (it's a bit too tall if I recall)- you could try turning the tab 90* so it's not down in the tray.

    Finally- try going overboard and load the stove up with 2 full tabs or 1 full and some of the small ones on top.
    Much like the low water start, I believe there is some science behind having a quick heat transfer at the start. The nice thing about esbit is you can easily blow it out. I use a 35mm fill can to store my partially burned tabs (which fits easily in the end of the rolled up cone). If I have a fire that night- I use the half burned tab from morning coffee for a fire starter if I need it. If I'm cooking a bigger than normal dinner or fresh food that takes longer then I use that partial tab or two tabs.

    There are instructions floating around to DIY a cone, including ones for that specific esbit stove as it's the lightest and fairly compact. Though the folded foil jobs are even better.

    That said... I prefer to see the people who invent things get the sale.

    Two things you get from Trail Designs that I think are important:
    The gram cracker stove sets the esbit at the proper distance from the bottom of the pot (it does matter) and off the ground when paired with the caldera cone.
    It also has two little tabs on the sides that let you regulate how fast the cube burns... and more accurately I think they help direct the heat directly to the pot and ensure a steady complete burn.
    https://www.traildesigns.com/products/gram-cracker

    The other thing is the cone itself. It maximizes the heat retention/transfer or choose your own proper scientific term.
    In the real world it makes sure every gram of fuel you burn transfers as much heat as possible to the contents of the pot.
    I think the best one is the Titanium Ti-tri.. not only for weight but also because you can burn wood.
    The aluminum stoves are cheaper, but can only burn alchy or esbit. Some feel they are easier to bend or damage as well.

    But you're talking about 35 vs 90 (roughly) so if the money is the issue... AL it is.
    Though if you already have several expensive stove sets... sell the ones that are not working or get happy with one of them as that will cost you a whopping free-ninety nine to use those.

    Personally I think the sidewinder ti-tri is the most effective. Paired with either the 600ml evernew or 900ml (toaks or evernew).
    It won't work with your 750 pot... but the classic cone lists your pot as an option.
    The main advantage is it stores inside your pot... which both protects your cone better and makes it easy to pack a nice small cook kit. They tend to sit lower on the ground as well making it a bit more stable and easy to shelter in very windy or rainy conditions. Other than that though... I don't think any particular cone is more effective in use as a stove so if you wanted to use a classic as it fits your pot- no biggie other than how you pack it.

    Extras- I don't own an inferno insert as I'm not that worried about perfect combustion of found sticks... I typically just go found some more and build a bigger fire when I'm done cooking.
    On busy trails like the AT... I try to cook in the fire pit anyway when I use wood. If someone happens to have a fire going, I borrow a few coals and set the cone on them. Typically though the fire pit is empty and folks are elbowing each other at the cook shelf or burning holes in the picnic table so the fire pit tends to be a nice place to get a bit of space.
    In the rare case I do cook a quick meal with wood (rather than just using esbit) I try to do so near water or similar durable surface where fire danger is zero. If needed you can cat-hole any unburnt bits.
    Cooking right on the trail late at night isn't a bad spot either but I certainly didn't tell you that.

    One advantage the ti-tri also has then is if for some odd reason you super mess up and need the option to burn wood you have it.
    You also have the option to stretch your supply by using a half tab for morning coffee only and using wood only during dinner when you have some more leisure time to work on the fire.
    Used that way you can go quite a ways on a handful of tabs... and if you're feeling SUL about things you can even pare your carried fuel down to less than 14g per day... but I think that gets a bit silly.
    1.5-2 tabs a day is a good start for most water boiling, non-firestarting, long distance hikers.

    On the very off chance you happen to strike out on esbit multiple towns in a row, can't order any from amazon or suddenly develop an aversion to the smell of esbit:
    The caldera cone is a very efficient alchy rig as well. So not a bad investment IMO.

    For those who a terrified of finding esbit 'in the wild':
    A cat food can, or simple redbull/V8 can stove can be whipped up at a gas station and a bottle of heet easily acquired. You can make any number of alchy stoves with a swiss army classic, incliding my favorite- the Coors Aluminum pint stoves. And if you have a caldera cone- you can simply cut any can to about 1.5" tall and just fill it with heet. No fancyness required, hole punching or windscreen/pot stand manufacturing skills required.


    I dislike alchy as a fuel as strongly as others dislike Esbit.

    Nice thing about a caldera from Trail Designs is they work perfect for either crowd and truly swing both ways.
    Spring for the TI version and you can add firewood options which really perfect the three-way.
    So providing you have your 11g mini-bic and a modicum of fire making skill you are severely unlikely to ever run short of fuel on any trail in the midwest or east.

  6. #26
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    Do you really need or want a full boil? 197 degrees is darn hot. Little buggies in the water die at 160.

    The thing about boiling is the huge amount of energy it takes to actually boil, even water that is at boiling temperature. Google up "heat of vaporization". Lots and lots of Backpacking fuel is wasted bringing water that is already at boiling temps to actual boiling. I can't remember the energy involved, I'll look it up later.

    Not that I'm a fan of Esbit or alcohol, but I think you expect a bit much from a fuel that is not particularly robust in terms of "power" (heat vs. time).

  7. #27
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    This is the Esbit setup I've used for many years:

    old Esbit setup.jpg

    For two persons, I'm usually heating 0.5lt to a near-boiling temp for morning coffee, about 0.75lt to rehydrate two dinners, and 0.5lt to a full-boil for tea.
    A pack of Esbit lasts for 2-3 days. Partially-burnt tablets will be reused.

    When doing solo hikes nowadays I skip the pot and use the bottle instead. This will use way more Esbit per boil, but for only a few days out its easier to carry more Esbit than to carry the pot (not only for the weight, but also for the volume).

  8. #28
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    When I was getting semi-serious about ultralight techniques, I got one of the tiny titanium Esbit wing stoves from Backpackinglight. I also made a succession of homemade alcohol stoves. Went on a bunch of hikes with those setups, short and long, working very very very carefully to minimize the fuel weight, and the overall kitchen weight. ("Gram weenie" is an accurate term, btw.) These stoves can actually heat water, though it does take some work and a lot of time. Finally, I realized that my hiking partner at the time was always packed up and ready to go in the morning, and he was sitting around waiting for my water to get hot so I could eat breakfast. (Yeah, I started the stove before I even started packing up. They take a loooong time.) So I went back to canister stoves. For a couple of extra ounces, I get a huge increase in speed and efficiency in camp.
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  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Bill View Post
    ...
    The second issue... is that pot. No matter the fuel- short and wide beats tall and narrow on the fuel efficiency race.....
    I've seen some home experiments which run contrary to this, basically resulting in about the same either way, and it does make some thermodynamic sense that this may be a commonly heard misconception. Flames licking over the sides in not ascetically pleasing, nor does it work well if the flames are over the liquid level (which is equals to flames too big to the pot), and if the flames are just too wide it will beyond the pot all-together, but there may be something to a narrow pot may be all and all equal at heat transfer, perhaps even better. Thermodynamically, greater heat transfer usually involved quicker fluid flow, an also usually allows for greater combustion (fluid here being the flames and superheated air).

    One aspect which is to the advantage of a narrow pot is that there is a smaller unheated surface exposed to the environment, the top, more of the surface is in the heated zone (assuming a caldara cone type setup).


    Like anything the proof is in the pudding, and why it helps to experiment with your gear and how the system works. A different size pot may help, but the only way to know is to try, there are jsut so many variables.

  10. #30
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    Figured I'd take a quick peek-

    Ayce had some good articles I recalled reading and were easy enough to find-

    One on stove height for Esbit- http://thru-hiker.com/articles/esbit_stove_height.php

    About 1.25"-1.5" from tab to pot matches my recollections.
    One on fuel efficiency of various stoves- http://thru-hiker.com/articles/stove...ime_14days.php

    Esbit is the winner on the 14 day and the 28 day runs.

    A pretty brief and simple one from Sectionhiker- https://sectionhiker.com/esbit-backpacking-stoves/


    And for connolm- here's a BPL thread bout the wingstove you have (I forgot it was a BPL invention)-
    https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/2155/

  11. #31
    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    When I was getting semi-serious about ultralight techniques, I got one of the tiny titanium Esbit wing stoves from Backpackinglight. I also made a succession of homemade alcohol stoves. Went on a bunch of hikes with those setups, short and long, working very very very carefully to minimize the fuel weight, and the overall kitchen weight. ("Gram weenie" is an accurate term, btw.) These stoves can actually heat water, though it does take some work and a lot of time. Finally, I realized that my hiking partner at the time was always packed up and ready to go in the morning, and he was sitting around waiting for my water to get hot so I could eat breakfast. (Yeah, I started the stove before I even started packing up. They take a loooong time.) So I went back to canister stoves. For a couple of extra ounces, I get a huge increase in speed and efficiency in camp.
    I end up about 8-10 minutes or less with the 600ml evernew and Caldera Cone sidewinder... not jetboil fast but reasonable enough I think. Though I've seen those 15 min burns with other setups as well.
    For the most part I build my own packs and like to keep the stove kit outside the main body of the pack... so the stove being 'last in' isn't a hassle for me personally. But I get why it would drive some nuts.


    I had the same experience with Alchy stoves... you could build them to burn hot enough to melt a turkey pan windscreen... or so fuel miserly that you might have done better just holding a bic lighter to your pot. About that time it was looking like I would need to buy a special tool or hunt for a certain can I called it a day. But I can build a stove with stuff I carry from any gas station I run into so that was an exercise that led to a useful skill in my book.
    You either burned more fuel than you liked or took too long and I never quite wrapped my head around a decent way to judge it and pack it. And it's a truly crappy fire starter option IMO.
    More trouble than it was worth even though it was fun tinkering at home with them I didn't like tinkering on the trail.
    It's funny how the 'for or against' to both alchy or esbit is usually strikingly similar.
    As always- to each their own.

  12. #32
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    It happend that our daughter had to perform an experiment in Chemistry at school recently and she did The Snake (burning sugar and baking soda).
    For the test runs back home, while trying to fix some issues, I unpacked one tray of Esbit and used some of it.
    Left the rest of the tray just sitting on the workbench, unprotected.
    Today the tray was half-full of water, the Esbit soaked and unjusable.
    Obviousely, Esbit is very hygroskopic.
    This might be a reason why many of you, hiking in the humid Eastern US, made bad experiences with Esbit, while I, hiking in the arid desert, am so happy with it.

  13. #33

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    I've heard some of the 4g tab esbit nerds discuss that option.
    Why do you call them "nerds" ? It's the most efficient way to use Esbit and they don't have the odor like the large version.

  14. #34

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    Never mind Bill, I noticed you're from Chicago :-)

  15. #35
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    Not sure what happened to your esbit, but the 4g tabs do not come in a sealed container...just loose in a cardboard box. Mine are just fine after kicking around loose in my pack for over a year. I have also dropped mine in water, and some gone through the washer (left in pocket). They work just fine afterward.
    Quote Originally Posted by Leo L. View Post
    It happend that our daughter had to perform an experiment in Chemistry at school recently and she did The Snake (burning sugar and baking soda).
    For the test runs back home, while trying to fix some issues, I unpacked one tray of Esbit and used some of it.
    Left the rest of the tray just sitting on the workbench, unprotected.
    Today the tray was half-full of water, the Esbit soaked and unjusable.
    Obviousely, Esbit is very hygroskopic.
    This might be a reason why many of you, hiking in the humid Eastern US, made bad experiences with Esbit, while I, hiking in the arid desert, am so happy with it.

  16. #36

    Default Better results today - thanks all and Just Bill

    More fiddling tonight with Esbit and Canister stoves. Experiments designed taking advice from JustBill about pot size and fresh Esbit tabs. Weights toward the end...

    Esbit portion:

    Pot: Famous Walmart Stanko Grease pot - 5 1/4" wide (previous: Toaks 750 mL - 3 1/2") [Difference: 1 - 3/4"]
    Fuel: new Esbit 14g tablet from plastic sealed packaging
    Water: 16 oz.
    Starting Temp: 60F
    Windscreen: Aluminum foil wrap-around
    Time to boil: 8 min 1 sec
    Final Temp: 212F (shrimp eye boil)
    Gap from Tab to pot: Started at 3/4" (Increased as tab burned)
    Stove: Esbit Titanium Stove Link

    Pictures follow
    Pot Width:
    0131181856a.jpg

    Boiling:
    0131181912a.jpg

    Shrimp Eyes (low boil):
    0131181912d.jpg

    Tablet remnants:
    0131181913b.jpg

    Comparison with Canister stove

    Stove: BRS3000
    Fuel: Butane 110 canister (I'm guessing about 1/3 full by "shake Test")
    Pot: Stanko Grease Pot again
    Water: 16 oz
    Starting Temp: 51F
    Windscreen: none
    Time to Boil: 3 min, 11 Sec
    Final Temp: 220F - Full rolling boil (experiment conducted at sea level. I live ~40 yards from the Atlantic ocean)
    Gap from stove to Pot: not measured - fixed by stove and cotrolled by flow valve

    Setup:
    0131181922b.jpg

    Flame contact on pot bottom:
    0131181926a.jpg

    Final Temperature:
    0131181933.jpg

    Boil:
    0131181933a.jpg

    Weights:

    Esbit Titanium Stove and bag, 14g tablet, DIY aluminum "cone" with two gator clips: 53 g

    0131181936.jpg

    BRS 3000 and Butane Canister: 146 g

    0131181935.jpg

    More discussion follows in next post...

  17. #37

    Default Continuing my previous post...

    Discussion and Opinions:

    The Esbit setup performed considerably better in this test versus the previous test. A higher final temperature was achieved and a quantifiable "boil" could be observed in the pot (Shrimp eyes). This could be attributed to the wider/lower pot profile (1.75" difference), the use of fresher and larger tabs, or both.

    The butane/BRS3000 achieved a raging boil five minutes faster. The boil was faster/higher as determined by bubble size and water disrpution. This was without wind screen nor calculation of tab/pot distance measurement. The starting water temperature was Lower than with the Esbit tabs.

    The weight difference between the setups (as performed) is 93 grams in favor of the Esbit tabs.

    Subjective considerations:

    The Esbit tabs failed to reach a roaring boil. A roaring boil is an easy to identify marker of temperature and purification. There's no estimation/opinion on a roaring boil.

    The Esbit tabs required significantly more control/optimization than the canister stove. I worry about achieving these wind-free, distance corrected environments in the raw. Whereas the canister stove is a "blunt bat" instrument controlled by the flow valve.

    The age/fidelity of the Esbit tabs appears to be a variable in this experiment as conducted. More study is needed understand this phenomenon.

    I still have concerns about relying on these Tablets in this setup in a stressful field situation. The weight differential does not justify the assumed risk at this level of study.

    Comments and discussion? Please debate!

  18. #38
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Also depends on where you are backpacking. Stoves without an on-off valve are facing restrictions in the American West esp during prime three-season hiking. Kinda makes the choice for you.. So it goes (see also, bear canisters!)
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  19. #39

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    The ideal distance from top of esbit to pot bottom is 1-1/2" Use a Brian Green Esbit Tray(BGET) to get maximum burn efficiency .

    http://www.woodgaz-stove.com/brian-green-esbit-tray.php

  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptainkriz View Post
    Not sure what happened to your esbit, but the 4g tabs do not come in a sealed container...just loose in a cardboard box. Mine are just fine after kicking around loose in my pack for over a year. I have also dropped mine in water, and some gone through the washer (left in pocket). They work just fine afterward.
    The ones I was using came in a cardboard box the same size as the 4g tablets, but sealed in two blister each containig 3 bulky bricks.
    Just tried to light one of the soaked pieces, it only started to smolder after heating it with the flamethrower.
    Maybe the blister-sealed Esbit is of slightly different material?
    But then, I had packs of the old 4g tablets gone bad in the past, too, when storing them in the loft for years.

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