Saturday, 18 June 2011

Solid Fuel Tablets

Just a quick post about solid fuel tablets/esbit call them what you will. I found some of the Highlander square fuel tablets in Millets. Something that used to be common on the high street but I've not seen them for a while. I've mainly been using the round tablets which they always have in stock.

So I decided to do a quick comparison whilst brewing the breakfast tea. A few quick stats. Both boxes cost £2.99. You get 24 round tablets in a box and 8 square tablets. I can just get a boil of a mug of tea with one and a half round tablets which weigh 10g. I can get a boil easily with half of the square tablets with fuel to spare and that weighs 12g. So both boxes have 16 boils in them for the same price.

Not surprising as there's 20% more fuel in the square tabs that they work better. However there's much more flame and heat as well and in windy conditions this is going to be a big plus over the round tabs. The other thing is that with the round tabs you get a carbonised foam mess left after the burn and sometimes in less than perfect conditions, which is most of the time this foam can choke off the last bit of the tab which remains un-burnt. The square tabs just completely disappear (see picture above) burning all the fuel. More efficient and no fluff blowing about the countryside.

All in all the square tabs outperform the round ones and will be my solid fuel of choice in the future. One tip, chop them in half with a sharp knife before leaving home. They're hard to snap in half!

7 comments:

Shed Dweller said...

Apologies for the upside down photo I was blogging from my phone.

Shap said...

Interesting post. there seems to be quite a bit of variation between fuel blocks and the type of stove. I find genuine Esbit tablets the best as they fit the gram cracker.
When the Backcountry Boiler arrives this might all change.

Big Jack Brass said...

I used Esbit tabs on the TGO this year, with a few of the round type I had lying around thrown in as extras. The difference in performance was quite clear in the field, even ignoring the amount of residue from the round tabs. Esbit coped better with breezes and fairly roared away in comparison with the others. Not a scientific test, and it's possible that the round tabs performed poorly because they're a couple of years old, but I think I'll be sticking to the bigger brand in future.

Shed Dweller said...

Thanks for the comments chaps. It would seem I'm quite a late adopter of the square fuel tabs. The comments on Twitter also show that the square tabs are far superior to the round ones. So there's something learnt by making tea!

thrush said...

I simply hate the disgusting smell of esbit, even when the tablets are packed air-proof it seems to smell through everything. Not to mention the smell of fired and extinguished esbit. How do you guys cope with that?

Shed Dweller said...

There is a slightly fishy odour about the Esbit tablets, it's not something that bothers me although I do I have an really poor sense of smell which I believe helps a lot with all aspects of backpacking!

bryan said...

Just a quick tip for breaking the sqaure tablets. I score them across the top with a sharp knife and snap them in half over a matchstick in much the same way as cutting bathroom tiles. Works a treat.