Esbit Fuel Benefits?

1:32 p.m. on May 30, 2016 (EDT)
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As I reexamine my kit for a week long trip in NH later in June, I started thinking about my fuel. I use, and absolutely love, the Caldera Cone Sidewinder Ti Tri. I use the wood burning mode in the evening to simmer my home prepped meals, and leave it burning while I eat and after for a relatively LNT mini campfire. In the mornings, lunch, or above treeline, I usually switch to alcohol mode for faster cool down and packing. This system has worked well for me in conditions from the teens with sleet, through consecutive rainy days, to winds up to 40 mph. 

I have only experimented with the third option for this stove, Esbit tabs, a couple of times. Based on that limited experience I stopped carrying them, as I found them less efficient and bulkier than alcohol, and of course wood that I don't have to carry. Specifically, it took an entire tab to heat water for lunch in November around 20 degrees. A capfull of alcohol did the same job. Now I am wondering if I gave the Esbit enough of a trial...

Anyone use Esbit? If so, what is your experience with them and what are the potential benefits in a system like mine? I really enjoy the wood burning option so am specifically comparing alcohol to Esbit for those times I described above. Thanks.

5:33 p.m. on May 30, 2016 (EDT)
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  1. Phil- Like you I've only used my( Esbit Solid Fuel Stove & Cookset CS585HA) a few times on the trail, plus playing around with it at home,at around the same temps. i'd say your dead on right, however it usually took me 2 cubes so mine has been even less efficient. what i do like about it is 1.compact(everything fits inside the pot cubes and lighter included) 2. cheap 3. great hand warmer while cooking 4. safe, no chance of spilling fuel very forgiving in this area 5. left over cube can be used for fire starting tinder on damp wood. 6. and probably the biggest reason I like it is it forces me to slow down and enjoy a meal, kinda gets me out of the fast food mentality. 7. and they weigh nothing. 8. I'm told they are very good in the high mountains, wouldn't know as around 6000ft has been my limit up to now.  
  2. on the negative side it is just not something your gonna want to use if there are more than 2 people on the trip and as everyone points out a little harder to clean off pot but who cares any way its on the outside and if its in its own sock or stuff pouch its not a worry.
7:46 p.m. on May 30, 2016 (EDT)
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For backpacking I now only bring solid fuel with me...though cooking with wood is always an option on any trip it isn't raining. Solid alcohol is just as efficient as liquid only seems less efficient because you are burning much less fuel at a time than you are with something like a cat-stove (which means your windscreen also needs to be much tighter since it takes the fuel a lot longer to reheat the draft of cooler air) and because the price is multitudes greater. That said...for me the difference between 2.00 of fuel and .25 of fuel is not really that significant given the trade-off in no spillage and leakage and the weight savings...and if you think solid fuel heats too slowly just throw in another cube...though I bet you can figure out something else to do for the extra minutes it takes to heat with solid fuel.

9:37 a.m. on May 31, 2016 (EDT)
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I prefer alcohol or canisters, but I always have a couple of Esbit cubes tucked away.  They are nice and stable (in original packaging) and make a nice back up.

10:13 p.m. on June 1, 2016 (EDT)
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Barb and I have several Esbits among our collection of a couple dozen stoves. 2 of then are the little military surplus foldup stoves, with the other one a larger dedicated Esbit/alcohol stoveThat is, the stove has one of the alcohol burners if you want to use alcohol fuel, or you can just lay an Esbit cube in there. The design of that stove gives it a much higher performance than most other alcohol and gel tablet stoves. 

While the Esbit and other alcohol stoves have their place. in general they are pretty slow cookers. So compressed gas (aka LP) stoves have their place, as do liquid fuel stoves.

6:29 a.m. on June 2, 2016 (EDT)
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I carry a stainless steel canteen cup on day hikes and inside the cup is a fold up esbit stove/fuel tabs, lighter, folding spork and a folded up piece of tin foil I use as a windscreen.  The stainless steel conducts the heat from the tab quickly.  I only use it to boil water and generally it's for ramen noodles and such.  The tab has always brought the water to a rolling boil and lasts a couple of minutes after that.  On longer trips I use my canister stoves.

6:49 p.m. on June 2, 2016 (EDT)
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"The stainless steel conducts the heat from the tab quickly"

You get a much better conductivity from an aluminium pot.

11:02 p.m. on June 2, 2016 (EDT)
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Franco said:

"The stainless steel conducts the heat from the tab quickly"

You get a much better conductivity from an aluminium pot.

 True but the steel is more durable.  I can place it on hot coals of a fire and not think twice about it.  

6:01 p.m. on June 3, 2016 (EDT)
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I just though it was peculiar you specifically mentioned conductivity for SS when it is the worst performer out of the three usual metals used for backpacking pots (AL,Ti,SS) 

Titanium ,BTW,  has a higher melting temp than SS but it is more expensive and hard to cook in , so as usual is "pick your poison"

9:10 p.m. on June 3, 2016 (EDT)
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I agree with you that Ti and Al are better at conducting the heat, but, the esbit is a dirty burn as well, not clean like a gas canister or even alcohol.  I would rather dirty up the stainless steel than my Ti or even al pots.  That being said, I have been able to get water to a rolling boil during winter temps in altitudes as high as 11,500 ft just using a single esbit tab.  Like you said however, pick your poison.  

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