Although I'm not new to backpacking (going back almost sixty years to my boy scout days) I am new to the Esbit solid fuel tablets. In playing around with them, they seem to have great potential for both day hikes and short over-nighters, however, I've found that the unburned tablet emit an unpleasant odor when stored in a pack for any amount of time. Has anybody found a way to wrap them (perhaps in aluminum foil?) so their fumes don't permeate into the other contents of my pack?
You're right, he was. I have to admit, I was just illustrating why they don't send donkeys to college ("No one likes a smart...")
The few times I tried Esbit, I never found a good solution for storing partially burned cubes. I tried a freezer-strength ziploc, which helped some, but never completely contained the smell.
I've got to wonder, unless the OP is considering a long trip, whether the best solution for smell might be to simply burn the entire cube. Reusing a partial cube certainly makes sense from a point of view of avoiding waste, but it certainly doesn't result in any meaningful weight saving all by itself.
(I don't really remember any partially burned cubes when I tried Esbit; I do remember giving up after two cubes failed to boil water in a large Rocky cup - similar to a Sierra cup, but larger, with a lid; briefly popular in the 80s in Scout circles. After that failure, and some more reading, I was able to boil half a Rocky cup of water using a windscreen. All we had back then were the little "wing" stoves, I think they were called. I've heard there are some better burners out there now.)
Again, my apologies for the lame attempt at humor.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I also carry an Esbit tab for emergency fire starting with soggy wet wood (frequent occurrence here in the Pacific NW for 9 months of the year). Never used it, because I rarely build fires, but there's always the possibility of running out of stove fuel or of once again slipping and falling during a stream ford!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
The beauty of esbit is in it's multi use capabilities. You can even boil a cup of water held up on a couple of rocks. My day pack always has 3 tabs and a metal cup of which I can cook in. I now have a small Ti fold up stove that contains the esbit tabs that I always carry for emergencies.
The wind wont howl if the wind don't break.
Thanks for all the responses. To be clear, I do NOT carry used or partially burned tabs - only new ones. I also carry a small, folding Ti stove/pot holder, and a metal cup. They are carried for two purposes. The first, as was mentioned by rockchucker22, is to boil a cup of water for coffee, tea, soup, or a small hot snack during the course of a hike. The other function, pointed out by OregonMouse, is to be able to start a fire under the most adverse conditions if forced to spend an unplanned night out, due to illness, accident, or injury. The "boiling kit" lives in the pack, and may reside there for weeks or even months. My goal is to find a way to contain the odor so it won't permeate the other gear in the pack, or the pack material itself. If I can't find a solution, the only other option I see is to remove the kit after each trip and remember (with the aging process, an ever increasing challenge) to replace it before going out on another hike.
I've got to ask: are you talking about this living in a day pack, or are you talking about carrying it in your multi-day pack to use for the cup of tea, etc., during the hiking day - and then breaking out your "real" stove to cook meals with?
If it's the only stove you're carrying for day hikes, it makes perfect sense, and might be a really great choice (I've seen the Esbit integrated-pot-and-stove cooker that came out this year, and it looked like it might be really useful for dayhike use.)
If you're carrying two stoves, I'd suggest dispensing with the Esbit stove altogether; if you can stop for 15 or 20 minutes to brew up a cuppa, can't you stop for 17 or 22 and just dig out your regular stove? (Surely two minutes would be enough to dig it out and pack it away, and I doubt you're timing things so closely that getting to camp two minutes later will make any critical difference.)
I could see that you might not want to fiddle with a white gas stove for those short stops, but a canister stove wouldn't seem like that much of a hassle.
I'm really not trying to be argumentative, and no way am I trying to say you're doing it wrong. I'm just a little confused about how you're using it.
I have been using Esbit for all solo trips for about eight years, though in the last four I have done few long trips (illness).
I used it all the way on my last thru hike of the AT.
It's a bit expensive and in some places hard to get (it's light, I just carry extras). Most people (evidently including you) are at least somewhat annoyed with the odor. I appear to have an olfactory challenge since I very rarely even notice it.
It seems to work very effectively for me solo. I put a little bit of heavy duty aluminum foil on the ground (protects the ground and reflects a little bit of heat) then put my tiny titanium wing stove and the pellet on that. I use an aluminum foil windscreen that is a bit shorter than ideal, cut that way so it fits snugly in my cook pot, and get a boil on about two to two and a half cups of water, usually in about six or seven minutes depending on the temperature of the water, wind strength, etc.
That usually leaves me with a nub of leftover fuel the size of a large Virginia peanut. I collect the nubs in a simple snack-size Ziplock in my cooking pot. Once in a while, if it's cold and wet and I've walked long in the morning, I will break out the cookpot and have hot Cup-a-Soup (or the broth from a Ramens pouch) or tea with my lunch. About three of the nubs will give me hot water if not a full boil (it's plenty hot for tea or soup). After a trip I throw away the nubs (but obviously be careful).
I am able to detect the odor from the Ziplock if I actually try, but don't find it a problem, and inside my pot, the odor does not seem to carry to anything else. You will need to wipe the gunk off the bottom of the pot once in a while.
I've never been able to keep them (even in the orignal packages) from making anything they are near smell fishy - but I seem to be sensitive to the smell of them - which kind of annoys me, I'd use them otherwise.
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