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John Chan
methanol to formaldehyde. on 11/30/2005 17:24:07 MST Print View


I think formaldehyde can be easily formed by burning methanol "rich". I detect it in the priming cup of my open jet stove as well and essentially, the fuel in the priming cup is burning rich since all available oxygen (most) goes to the 16 surrounding jets. The same goes with acetaldhyde which is given off when ethanol is burned in the stove. Despite all the tweaking, the fuel in the priming cup will always burn rich unless the priming cup is eliminated (as in some of the Mini Bull Designs stoves).

Still, I've switched to ethanol (95%) for my alcohol stove now. Burns a little sootier but acetaldehyde is more easily metabolized by your liver than formaldehyde... and frequent use of the stove in enclosed places (tent) only exacerbates the problem.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: methanol to formaldehyde. on 11/30/2005 17:57:30 MST Print View

Yes, I first noticed it in 1977 when using a Trangia. So you're burning what, Everclear?

John Chan
Re: Re: methanol to formaldehyde. on 11/30/2005 20:18:05 MST Print View

I'm burning lab grade 95% ethanol. Get it from work... too poor to afford everclear but being an academic does have its advantages.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Re: methanol to formaldehyde. on 12/01/2005 07:38:14 MST Print View

Thought so. Chemistry, right?

So have you designed a no-soot isopropyl burner yet? Preferably one that serves as its own pot support? Tinny claims to have done so (using a version of the old splash-plate burner, I think. That's one way to get the temps needed to burn iso cleanly. ) Now, THAT would be a coup. Someone claimed not long ago on this site that iso had higher BTU than either ethyl or methyl. It is certainly cheaper and easier to find in more places.

John Chan
iso-pro on 12/01/2005 11:55:49 MST Print View


Functional Genomics (Molecular Biology).

The problem with isopro is the commercially available stuff is only 70-75% (rubbing alcohol) so already, you're at a huge disadvantage in terms of calories needed to vaporize the water component. Isopropanol is actually a branched alcohol (CH3)2CHOH which makes it potentially higher in terms of liberated energy (C-C bonds) but harder to combust. I hardly see the point of making an isopro burner unless you can get the good fuel cheaply.

Fortunately for me, there's lots of 100% isopropanol kicking around the lab should I decide to go through the esquisite mental torture of tinkering with a stove set-up and said fuel.

Edited by ouroboros on 12/01/2005 11:56:29 MST.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: iso-pro on 12/01/2005 12:59:21 MST Print View

What kicks the interest is now common availability of 90%+ iso in form of red HEET and rubbing both. Yellow HEET, once common at rural crossroads stores along AT has been replaced by red HEET on grounds that the methyl in yellow harms fuel injector seals. Oh, well.

John Chan
initial test - esbit + titanium wing stove on 12/06/2005 09:27:42 MST Print View

I just recieved a shipment of esbit tabs from the only known distributor in Canada (SIR Mail Order).

I can confirm that 1 14g tab is barely sufficient to bring 750 mL of water (starting @ 68 F) to a rolling boil (est 10.5 min) so in my estimation, 1 tab = 1 hungry-man meal. I'm not sure of the utility of putting out the tab for later use as a partially burned tab appears "peaked" and almost fused to the titanium esbit holding tray.

Stuff is expensive here though. $80 CDN for 96 tabs... (when shipping is included). I think I'll only be using it for emergencies during the winter months, and as part of a summer SUL kit that I'm working towards.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: initial test - esbit + titanium wing stove on 12/06/2005 09:43:49 MST Print View

For me buying that much locally would cost about 43 US dollars.

John Chan
Re: Re: initial test - esbit + titanium wing stove on 12/06/2005 11:47:32 MST Print View

For me (before shipping) the price was $8/12 x 8 packs = $64 CDN.

Looks like the goods exchange rate hasn't kept up with the current monetary exchange rate between our two great nations.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Re: initial test - esbit + titanium wing stove on 12/07/2005 13:53:20 MST Print View

Oshmans has Esbit for $6 for 12. Yes, it is expensive, but you can buy a lot of Esbit for what a Simmerlight and all its accutrements costs.

As for saving unused portions, If you are boiling 750 ml at a time, that little mound of Esbit hardly seems worthwile. I use 1/2 a tab, and to reliably boil 250 ml (1 US cup)at a time. That will cook 2 packs of Ramen. Enough for me, and there is almost always some left over even in the 40Fs. For boiling small amounts, the residue adds up.

Edited by vickrhines on 12/07/2005 13:59:36 MST.

Al Shaver
(Al_T.Tude) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra and CA Central Coast
Esbit Issues on 12/16/2005 20:17:41 MST Print View

I have no problem blowing out Esbit tablets and using remainder for next meal.

I typically put 1-1/2 precooked instant lunch cups (with the foam cup removed and noodles crushed)and 1.5oz. shredded jerky into my 730ml/.85oz. Fosters beer can pot. One tablet gets the full pot plenty hot enough for palatability and internal warming.

I have a 15 year old steel wing stove, the BPL steel and titanium wing stoves and titanium windscreen. The old stove works great with my Fosters pot (the only pot I use with Esbit. Anything larger than 730 ml and the small amount of heat becomes problematic.) The old stove also weighs in @ 1 oz. which is .2oz. lighter than the BPL steel wing stove. Unfortunately both BPL stoves were NOT designed with the Fosters can in mind. They are completely incompatible and therefore appear to be useless products to me. Before I create a die to reform the can to fit the Ti BPL stove, I am playing with a .2oz , 24fl.oz. beer can esbit holder and pot support. I've got the dimensions and structural rigidity that I need. I'm working on the right hole pattern to keep the tablet combusting efficiently. I will post when I've got it perfected.

I think the BPL Ti windscreen is a useful item that will probably end up in my kit.

Vick, I'd love to get a look at your .3oz expanded aluminum fuel holder and pot support design. I'm sure that no matter how you did it, it will stimulate my thinking.

Cheers Al

Edited by Al_T.Tude on 12/17/2005 02:15:20 MST.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Esbit Issues on 12/17/2005 12:32:36 MST Print View

Thruhiker has plans for a titanium wing stove here:

They also sell the titanium sheet. I'll bet you can modify the plan enough to make the folding stove of your dreams.

During the discussions of Esbit stoves, I got an inspiration and made a much better one from flashing. I've dumped the folded expanded aluminum stand/burner on the grounds that the new one is as light, supports pots/cans more securely and is more durable.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comImage hosted by

This Esbit burner/pot support will weigh 5 grams (0.175 oz.) or less in aluminum flashing. The size can be adjusted to fit the diameter of your pot/can. For a regular pot, lay out 8x1.5 on flashing, mark fold lines at 2.5 inch intervals. For a Heineken, start with 6.5X1.5 and fold at 2" intervals. This size fits INSIDE the bottom rim and is very secure. It also fits into the big Heineken can easier. Mark drill holes where the tabs will fold into the center 1/2 inch from centers between fold marks and 3/8 inch from the bottom. Drill 1/8" holes and cut from the top to the holes. Taper the legs. Fold tabs to one side and crease and fold into triangle with the tabs to the inside. Drill and rivet (2 small 1/8" aliminum rivets) the triangle along one leg. Form pan and rivet to the tabs folded to center. Rough pot supports with file or Dremmel.

When you get it how you want it, try titanium.

Edited by vickrhines on 12/18/2005 12:52:29 MST.

Al Shaver
(Al_T.Tude) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra and CA Central Coast
DIY Esbit Stove on 12/19/2005 02:50:55 MST Print View

Vick, Thanks for the Ti stove link, sharing your ideas and taking the trouble to post photos. Like the man said: Picture worth thousand word;[)> (Don't feel bad if you didn't get that smilie. It's supposed to be Lao Tzu's slanted eye,Fu Manchu moustache, smile and goatee.)

I'm going to continue work developing my aluminum can stove/support for the Fosters pot but I may end up embracing your flashing design for it's versatility, simplicity and ease of manufacture. Hopefully when I get done, my nephews (on holiday break) can show me how to use their digital camera to post photos of my masterpiece.
Cheers, Al

William Wright
Re: Esbit cooking on 03/24/2006 01:45:10 MST Print View

A full Esbit tablet puts out too much flame under my Snow Peak Mini Solo pot. To avoid wasting heat by burning a full tab to boil a pint of water, I cut the tab in half and slip in an additional quarter to finish the job once the half starts to die down. I just save the last quarter for future use in a zip lock bag.

By the way, Esbit tablets appear to be a mixture of hexamine and 1,3,5-trioxane (see And hexamine itself is used as a food additive, specifically a cheese preservative (see

Although 1,3,5-trioxane is derived from formaldehyde, and hexamine is created by mixing formaldehyde and ammonia, efficient combustion will yield primarily carbon dioxide, water, and nitrogen dioxide.

Bernard Shaw
( - F

Locale: Upstate New York
Re: Re: Esbit cooking on 03/24/2006 06:43:46 MST Print View

Thanks for researching the esbit information!


Dean Zeisset
(dzeisset) - F
cook fire anyone? on 05/16/2006 18:34:20 MDT Print View

I don't hear any mention of cooking over a fire. I have an aluminum 2 quart kettle with a bail handle & I rig 3 sticks with a string & an adjustable tautline hitch knot. It only takes a small fire & I can cook for 3 large people. Rain, you say? I got a fire started on the Kalalau Trail on the island of Kauai in 30 hours of rain with one of my home made fire starters. One egg section of a cardboard egg carton filled with sawdust & covered in candle wax. Not the lightest fire starter, but it'll give off an 8" tourch for about 12 minutes. Enough time to get some small wet twigs going. If I'm ever in an environment like that again, (& I hope I am, it was unbelievable) I'll definitley take a backup alcohol stove with a couple meals worth of fuel.

I was just wandering if cook fires were taboo or something. I never hear of anyone doing it. I realize that there are circumstances that may prohibit this method. Dry seasons or desert climates with no wood to burn, but this style of cooking is so much fun. It really brings out the cowboy in ya & saves some weight. When I go solo, I use a similar 1 quart pot. I recommend bringing your stove on the next trip, but try cooking over a fire. I've never tried it, but I'm sure you could arrange some stones to set the pot on if you don't want to go out & purchase one with a bail handle.

Edited by dzeisset on 05/16/2006 18:36:29 MDT.

David Couch
(Davidc) - F

Locale: England
Amine outgassing on 05/16/2006 19:11:07 MDT Print View

John and Vick
I last studied chemistry at age 13, then dropped it because of lack of aptitude. You both impress me with you knowledge, and that is a sincere not a sarcastic remark. So please advise me, in words I can understand.

I live in England where we have no bears but lots of wind and rain, so we frequently cook inside our tents. Please tell me whether any by-products of esbit combustion (other than CO2) will do me any harm.


Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: cook fire anyone? on 05/16/2006 20:30:44 MDT Print View

>I was just wandering if cook fires were taboo or something.

I rarely get to cook over a fire (most of my hiking is above the no-fires level) but there have been several threads here about how to construct and use an ultralight wood stove/windscreen/potstand make from a can. Here are two of them.

The G Spot >> Wood Stoves

Make Your Own Gear >> 1.5oz wood stove

Edited by Otter on 05/16/2006 20:38:30 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Amine outgassing on 05/16/2006 20:51:08 MDT Print View

"I live in England where we have no bears but lots of wind and rain, so we frequently cook inside our tents. Please tell me whether any by-products of esbit combustion (other than CO2) will do me any harm"

It is the carbon monoxide that will get you. Carbon dioxide will displace oxygen in the air, but carbon monoxide binds with your hemoglobin. CPR might get you going again with CO2, but with CO, you need a transfusion or you're really dead. I just can't imagine there is anything that isn't dangerous in the fumes coming off an Esbit tab and I use them too.

Cooking in tents is dangerous in a lot of ways-- spilling hot liquids, setting your clothing, the tent, and other gear on fire AND not being able to get out AND the fumes. You're not climbing Everest---cook outside under your bumbershoot!

Being in a land where is drizzles for days on end (Washington), a common practice here is to put up a big tarp (this is in campgrounds) so everyone can cook, talk, play cards, and stay dry. Think about a mini version with a group camping-- an 8'x10' tarp and a couple poles can make a huge cook shelter.

Here's a fantastic resource I found-- all the MSDS data on many of the fuels we use with hiking stoves:

Edited by dwambaugh on 05/16/2006 23:24:51 MDT.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Re: Esbit cooking on 05/17/2006 08:00:45 MDT Print View

I believe the information from thefreedictionary to the effect that Esbit contains trioxane is incorrect, and I'm communicating directly with ESBIT COMPAGNIE GMBH to see check on that. Their website says Esbit has no content other than hexamine.