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how come esbit is not more popular?
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Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: how come esbit is not more popular? on 01/01/2013 18:20:08 MST Print View

"iPad spell checker. Embittered = esbit. "

Turn it off.


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: how come esbit is not more popular? on 01/01/2013 18:24:19 MST Print View

"iPad spell checker. Embittered = esbit. "

Turn it off.


Or... Add Esbit to the built-in dictionary..

Jon Fong

Re: how come esbit is not more popular? on 01/01/2013 18:44:02 MST Print View

One reason that Esbit is not very popular is as mentioned previously: odor, soot and an unfavorable MSDS. A second reason is that the bar for development is pretty high. If you want to develop a better Esbit stove, it cost you 50 cents a whack, were as with alcohol, the consumables are pretty cheap. The link below is to a guy who developed a sootless Esbit stove.

It would be cool to see someone refined the idea into a practical stove. I don’t know if many people would want to spend the $ and time to innovate a sootless backpacking stove. I am sure there are buyers, just not many developers. My 2 cents - Jon

mik matra
(mikmik) - M

Locale: Allways on the move
Replying on 01/01/2013 19:02:23 MST Print View

1.I ahve made the first pictured stove but have not covered the filler hole....will give that a go
2.I have also made the second picture one and placed the jets in the same location but the flames seem to die out after 5 or 6 seconds once I put the pot on it. So I made another one and put the holes half way down the outside but again the flames die out. The flame is always blue but gets yellow at the end and I haven't quite decided on the height above the stove to have the pot. That 1/2inch is a good guide.
3.I have heard of some guys watering down their ethonol by as much as 10% water 90% math spirits. Wonder if this will help the burn. Will try it out as well.

Nick Gatel-
I just hardly ever read about someone favouring Esbit fuel.....I did jump to conclusions and made an asumption perhaps incorrectly so.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Replying on 01/01/2013 19:28:18 MST Print View


Re: #1 Separate the two halves of the stove if you can and using a suitable tool flatten the filler hole area in the top half so that the penny will seal the filler hole well.

Hint: Older copper pennies seem to work better than the new composite ones.

Re: #2 "...but the flames seem to die out after 5 or 6 seconds once I put the pot on it."

How big are your jet holes? Try using a plastic headed bulletin board push pin for sizing the jets.

On your example of the second stove, did you leave 3 or 4 fuel transfer holes in the bottom of the internal wall of the stove? It's also a good idea to "pinch" the top edge of the stove in about three equally spaced spots to avoid over pressurization of the stove. This helps to break a complete sealbetween the pot and the stove.

I've also seen where a vapor vent hole is drilled in the upper portion of the inside wall.

Re: #3 Have you tried using Heet in the yellow bottle?

Watering down your fuel will "calm" the burn down.

Post some pictures of your progress so we can see what we are working with.

MYOG stoves are addictive. LOL

Party On,


Edited by Newton on 01/01/2013 19:34:21 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Replying on 01/01/2013 19:55:17 MST Print View

If I remember correctly, Esbit has 12,500 btu/lb versus 10,800 for HEET. Gasoline is around 19,000 and iso-propane even higher (surprise, surprise - thanks, Roger C). My preference in 3 seasons is Esbit, but I just boil water. Esbit is readily available in metropolitan areas. On a thru-hike, like the PTC, Esbit is not readily available and alcohol is usually a better choice for most thru-hikers. With a Trail Designs Caldera Cone, it is pretty darn efficient. With me CC system I am more concerned with the beer can pot holding up, than the residue. I have only been using it for a few years.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Re: how come esbit is not more popular? on 01/01/2013 20:22:16 MST Print View

Jon says: "One reason that Esbit is not very popular is ... an unfavorable MSDS."

Unfavorable compared to what?

Denatured alcohol and HEET contain many toxic and/or "proprietary" additives – by design! Even Everclear is toxic in high doses.

Butane used in canister stoves is not exactly harmless.

Wood smoke is pretty bad for you, too.

So PYP - Pick Your Poison.

Jon Fong

Re: Re: Re: how come esbit is not more popular? on 01/01/2013 20:54:40 MST Print View

From Wikipedia,

Esbit's Material Safety Data Sheet states combustion can create formaldehyde, ammonia, nitrogen oxide, hydrogen cyanide

Yep, choose our poison is correct. Esbit creates some unfovorable byproducts. BTW, I do use Esbit with care.

Best redards, Jon

mik matra
(mikmik) - M

Locale: Allways on the move
pictures to come on 01/02/2013 01:40:28 MST Print View


I am busy for the next few days but will endeavour to get some pictures up on PBL on the weekend.

Thanks for you time :).


Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: how come esbit is not more popular? on 01/02/2013 12:55:35 MST Print View


I have been using Esbit for a year or so with a caldera cone and the gram cracker esbit stove they sell.

I can get 2 to 2.5 boils in my 0.9L MSR Titan Kettle with one Esbit cube in the Sierras three season camping.

Based on my experience with THIS setup (the gram cracker stove almost doubled the efficiency/number of burns I could get out of one cube), I would say that the Esbit fuel gives me more boils per ounce of fuel and is superior over alchohol.

However, Esbit is not perfect...the negatives:

Smell bad...frankly, makes me sick

Leaves a sticky black tar on the bottom of my pot that requires that I store it in a plastic bag to avoid soiling my gear in my pack. (Cleaning is easy at home...spray on oven cleaner, let sit for 5-10 mins and wash off clean...toxic chemicals, but clean and shiny new).

Can be hard to ignite

Expensive vs. alcohol

Availability on the trail or on the road to resupply can be a big issue vs. alcohol, which is generally readily available.

My thoughts are esbit is my light weight fuel of choice depending on the length of the trip that I am taking and will I need to resupply myself with Esbit on the trip that I am taking.

This was in issue with my friends and I on our 2011 JMT trip...we called ahead to the resupply places and they assured us that they would have plenty in stock.

Well, they did not and we had to conserve fuel....and hence my love of the Gram Cracker stove, which was my 1st purchase after my JMT trip. (My friend, Jeremy, had the Gram Cracker Stove, which saved me and allowed me to have enough fuel to the end).

The Alcohol vs. Esbit discussion is really about which is the best fuel source for the specific trip you are taking.

If it is a long trip where you can carry all the esbit you need or can guarantee yourself with a resupply source of esbit, the weight savings with esbit is clear to me with MY setup.

Shorter trips...then the advantage of Esbit vs. alcohol are diminished to the point where you take the fuel that you like best or is the easiest for you to use.

Cost wise....alcohol is the clear winner over esbit, which is expensive.

When you are commiting to Esbit you are saying that you are willing to pay a premium to save the weight vs. a cheaper alcohol alternative.

Did I mention that the smell of Esbit makes me sick???

Hope this helps put things into perspective....ultimately you are picking the system that works best for YOU, based on educating yourself to the pros and cons of each option available to you.


michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Esbit is just a brand, and expensive. on 01/02/2013 13:15:40 MST Print View

I use Coghlans instead, they come in smaller cubes and are about 1/5th the cost.

Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

Esbit will become more popular in time on 01/02/2013 20:31:41 MST Print View

My interest in esbit has increased since I now have the ability to simmer with it. The small container I recently came up with that has the sliding lid to cover the cube in small increments makes it really easy to simmer. FlatCatGear has a simmering esbit stove that works well also.
I have some interesting foil bags on order that I will use to contain my cubes so that the odor will be contained. They are of the ziploc type and are made to be opened and closed many times. As many of you have found out, the odor comes right through the foil /plastic packaging that the esbit comes in. I suspect I will be able to cook in the bags also. Cook as in submerge the bag in boiling water.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Esbit will become more popular in time on 01/02/2013 21:31:40 MST Print View

I admit to being a bit of a neat freak. The idea of using a fuel that leaves soot all over my stuff is just disgusting. I'll stick with alcohol thank you.

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
Coghlans versus Esbit cost considering weight on 01/02/2013 21:44:25 MST Print View

Michael, I remember the Coghlan's cubes are much cheaper - do you know what's the difference in weight between the Coghlan's and standard Esbit cubes? Taking weight into account what's the difference in cost?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Esbit will become more popular in time on 01/02/2013 21:59:41 MST Print View

"I admit to being a bit of a neat freak. The idea of using a fuel that leaves soot all over my stuff is just disgusting. I'll stick with alcohol thank you."

It really isn't soot, but a residue that is pretty hard once it dries, which is pretty quick. My shoes get much dirtier from hiking.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
soot? on 01/02/2013 22:01:14 MST Print View

I really wouldn't call it soot its more of a residue that quickly drys hard and is not all that messy. I bring a plastic shopping bag to put the pot in and throw it in my food bag wrapped up. No mess problems at all. Its kinda funny but when I started over twenty years ago I thought esbit was stupid, so I started with white gas then canister stoves then played with alcohol and now use what I like best for how I cook, the lowly esbit tab. That is if I can't have a open camp fire

Edited by mtmnmark on 01/02/2013 22:04:52 MST.

Sam Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
esbit? on 01/02/2013 22:16:25 MST Print View

The reason I've stayed with a canister stove is that while breakfast is just a quick boil, and lunch is not cooked, dinner is pasta or rice with freeze dried meat that takes 15-20 minutes on low boil to become soft and good-tasting; and the sauce, spice and dried veggie mix added takes another 5-10 minutes of simmering. With enough water for a couple cups of tea or other hot drink, the Shelties' kibble, and sterilizing the utensils and dog dishes, that all requires over a quart of water to be boiled. The payoff is that the dinners really taste good, and unlike all freeze-dried, provide plenty of energy for the next day's hike.

The weight of the full Coleman canister is around 13 oz when full, and the Ti Snowpeak Gigapower stove with plastic canister stand and Ti burner windscreen, around 3 oz, for a total of a little over a pound on the first day when the canister is full. That lasts for 6-7 days, at which point a resupply cache is reached on the route, with a stay at a lodge or cabin if convenient.

This system requires the ability to regulate the simmer or boil, and the canister seems to excell in that, especially a higher altitudes of 10-12K feet. The concern about the focused flame on the stove never proved a problem. So the weight runs from a pound down to less than a half pound, and the food is delicious, carefully mixed and packaged at home with the best ingredients. Very clean burning with easy cleanup.

Unforunately, the canisters have around doubled in price at Walmart; but enough were purchased when they were $2.50 US to last for a while still.

But I can easily see why the alcohol would work better for long distance treks, as opposed to a total of three or four weeks in the summer.

Edited by scfhome on 01/05/2013 21:35:49 MST.

Ryan Dorn
Nope on 01/02/2013 22:54:12 MST Print View

I tried it for a bit as well as alcohol, but it was too slow for me. I'm so impatient when it comes to boiling water.

Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @
Re: I like Esbit a lot for certain situations . . . on 01/03/2013 13:37:12 MST Print View

. . . especially for an extended trip above treeline or in a fire ban area when I can't burn wood. I used Esbit in a CC system on a 3-week AT section hike, mailing it to myself, double-bagged, in resupply boxes. Worked great. I have used it multiple times on 8-10 day treks without resupply above treeline. Worked great. Lighter than alcohol, can't be spilled, easy to budget 2 cubes (1 oz) per day for my needs of hot breakfast with 2 cups of hot coffee in the morning; hot dinner with 2 cups of hot tea at night. Any residue you don't like scrapes off your pot with a rock anytime you like. I keep my pot in a cozy to eat and to store in pack so not much of an issue anyway. It is more expensive than alcohol, so I don't typically use it for weekend trips except as a backup fuel when planning to burn wood, another purpose for which it is ideal IMO.

Phillip Damiano

Locale: Australia
Re: how come esbit is not more popular? on 01/03/2013 19:59:12 MST Print View

I love using Esbit, but down here in Australia it's not very cheap. Luckily I purchased in bulk a while back and got a great deal thru an online store wanting to get rid of there stock.

Esbit for me is far lighter than Metho on hikes of 4 or more days. No fuel spillage to worry about.