Friday, August 28, 2015

Solid Fuel stoves

In this post I wish to share a few insights and comments on Solid fuel-tab stoves, eg. Esbit. In the picture below you can see(from left to right): Esbit pocket stove, Esbit stainless steel stove, Esbit titanium stove and the SoloStove. I have used all of them for outdoors and hiking with fuel tabs from Esbit. I have no experience of fuel tabs from other manufacturers. You should also check ut FlatCatGear.

In my opinion Esbit(and other fuel tabs) are an excellent fuel. However, they require some knowledge and skill for optimum fuel efficiency and heat output. Many hikers seem to use fuel tabs wrong and end up with a lukewarm cup of water. My first encounter with Esbit was unpleasant: three used tabs, a pan black of soot and sticky goo and cold water in the end. I swore never again. After I learned more on the correct use I have cooked many meals using just the tabs. Correctly used fuel tabs heat water efficiently and can cook your meal in any weather. 

Why solid fuel tabs? They are light, cheap, efficient and practical to use. Esbits come individually packaged, keeping them from water or any other harm. If they do get wet, simply wipe or blow the water off! To operate correctly Fuel tabs do need a lot of air, and I mean a lot! But they are also prone to wind, so a windscreen and a sheltered cooking spot are recommended. I think this is where most failed attempts start: a low air flow and a lack of protection from wind. 

You can use fuel tabs even without a stove. Simply place two rocks of roughly the same size parallel to each other. Place the tab in between and light it up. Place your cooking pot on top of the stones. Simple!  However, a dakota fire pit like construction is recommended(even when using a stove).

Simple stoves, eg. those manufactured by Esbit or FlatCatGear, will give about 60-70% of the potential energy in the tabs when used correctly. A secondary combustion stove will give 90-100% procent energy output. 

Here follows some thoughts on each of the stoves:

The Esbit pocket stove

This was my first Esbit stove and I used it completely wrong the first times, resulting in a cold meal. In my experience the pocket stove should be regarded as a back-up or emergency stove. It need a proper wind screen and foil(or similar) to patch p the sides. You should also dig a small hole under the stove in order to improve airflow. You can fit both small and large pans on the stove. The stove packs down nicely and a packet of Esbit tabs can be stored inside. I picked up my stove for 5€ including tabs.

The Esbit stainless steel stove

This is by far my favourite Esbit manufactured stove. It packs flat and is quite lightweight at 74g. The triangle works as both a windscreen and potstand. I still recommend using a separate windscreen. The stove can be used with a soda can stove or a Trangia burner. Both small and large pans fit on the stove. In my opinion this is the only Esbit stove that has enough airflow as it is. 

The Stainless Steel stove packs flat

Stainless steel stove assembled

With Sodacan stove

Stainless steel stove with trangia burner inserted into the slots for the burner plate.
 Esbit titanium stove.

Super lightweight: 12g. I don't like this stove at all. It requires a tight fitting windscreen and all my pots and mugs are wobly on it. The titanium stove only accepts one tablet at a time, sure you could stack two on top of each other but they usually fall down.


Now you may wonder why I have included a wood or twig stove in a list of solid fuel tab stoves. The answer is simple: the SoloStove is a secondary combustion stove with a potential of 100% energy output from a solid tab. Solid tabs will burn extremely hot and fast in the SoloStove. The burning time is cut almost to half compared to other stoves. Solid tabs will burn so hot that the metall net on the bottom will turn red! I highly recommend the SoloStove for fuel tab use! A single tab can function as a booster for twigs and wood or when burning wet fuel. More here.

Stoves with pots

Stoves packed in their pouches. 

No comments:

Post a Comment