I picked up a Esbit pocket stove at Sail last weekend. It's a solid fuel stove, very lightweight and not very bulky. It folds into a rectangular box which can hold the fuel tabs. When I bought the stove, it was only $14.49 and came with 6 fuel cubes, I asked the sales associate if they carried more fuel tabs. He couldn't find any, but reassured me that they do stock them, they were just out at the moment.
What I'm really looking for is a stove that I can simmer at a lower heat to use for baking. When I got home, I took the stove out and set it up with my camping kettle filled with cold water. I put a single tea light in, lit it, and put a thermometer in the kettle to see how quickly it heated up. My results were painfully slow. After half an hour I added a second tea light. Still too slow. After an hour and a half, the water wasn't warm enough to make tea with.
|Stove, fuel and camp kettle|
|Stove has two settings|
|It cooks both ways|
Before long, I tripped over videos by people that are making their own fuel tabs. In the original video I watched, he used 100% pure cotton balls, a wax candle and an ice cube tray. In a second video, this guy used an old egg carton instead of the ice cube tray. The person that posted the video was adamant that these are for fuel, not fire starters. I'm pretty sure they would serve both purposes. However a fire starter would probably not make a good fuel source for cooking.
I picked up the cotton balls and an unscented candle at the dollar store on my way home from work. I didn't use any of my pots to melt the candle directly, instead, I found a jar that was large enough to hold the candle and placed that in a pot with water.
|Each egg spot holds 2 cotton balls fluffed up|
|Melted candle - not the whole thing|
|Melted wax poured into the egg carton|
I haven't broken up the egg carton into sections yet. I'm waiting for it to harden. Plus it's probably a better idea for storage to just leave it in one piece for now. Maybe this weekend I'll take it outside to the back step and see how high the homemade fuel pellets burn. I'll time how long it takes to boil water as well.
On the stove package it states that one fuel pellet will boil one pint of water in 8 minutes. Each pellet burns for 12 minutes. Each fuel pellet comes in a waterproof package.
TestedI was able to engage a lab assistant (my nephew, Logan) and we tested the stove using one of my homemade fuel pellets. The pellets that come with the stove will boil 1 pint of water in 8 minutes. We fired up the stove with the homemade fuel pellet with my kettle on it. However I did have 1 liter of water in the kettle, twice the amount of the baseline of 1 pint.
|The flame is burning rather high|
It took about 13 minutes to boil the water, however it didn't come to a rolling boil. I let the fuel continue burning. It was starting to lose heat and slowly stopped burning. Probably around 15 minutes. But for the last couple of minutes, it really wouldn't cook much. I would say, though, that the homemade pellets work very similar to the fuel pellets the stove comes with.
|What was left at the end|
In a pinch you could use the Esbit as a stick stove as well. I'm not sure how well it would perform.
- It is extremely lightweight to carry.
- The fuel is probably comparable with other fuel for weight.
- It's not an expensive stove.
- You can make your own fuel pellets quite cheaply.
- It takes up very little space.
- You could probably use it as a stick stove if you ran out of fuel.
- The fuel pellets are each individually stored in a waterproof package.
- It burns very high making your cookware very sooty and dirty.
- It might be hard to find the fuel pellets.
- It has no temperature control and no real ability to adjust how high your pot is away from the flame.
- You can't turn the stove off, you have to let the fuel burn until it's done.
- It might not burn hot enough to get a good rolling boil, which you might want if you're boiling water to sanitize it.
- It has some pretty sharp edges. I've cut myself twice on it and have been careful, especially after the first slice.
- It doesn't really work with tea lights as the fuel source, it doesn't get hot enough to do anything.
- If it is being used for baking, you'd have to be baking something that only takes 15 minutes to bake.