I have been playing with a new stove the last couple months. Taken it out on the last three outings and I am in love with it.
The Esbit Alcohol Stove is designed like the Trangia stove out of Sweden. The Esbit is from Germany and is built to last just like the Esbit chemical fuel tablet stove. When I was an 11 year old Tenderfoot I got one of the chemical tablet stoves, as most of the guys in my Troop had them. We lived in Holland at the time and it seemed to be the standard for our Troop. I still have that stove.
So back in February I wanted to find one to show the Scouts of the Troop. I found them and bought a new chemical fuel stove, and right next to it on the shelf sat the Esbit Alcohol Stove for $19.99. I picked it up and thought for 20 bucks it’s worth a shot.
Let me tell you why I like this stove, but first.. let me tell you what I look for in a stove.
First, I like a stove that is easy to use. To many buttons, knobs, pumps, or steps to operate frustrate me.
Next, I like a stove that is not too heavy. I am not a gram weenie.. but something that is too heavy is usually bulky also.
Finally, I like a stove that uses different fuels or multi fuel stoves.
And so.. the esbit alcohol stove has caught my eye. Let me throw some specs out at you.
The stove weighs in at 3.2 ounces or 92 grams for those of you that count them up. The stove will burn denatured alcohol, solid fuel (chemical fuel) tablets, and white gas. The Esbit is made of Brass and is 1.8 x 2.9 in or 4.6 x 7.4 cm.
The stove has a screw top with a rubber seal. This is a great feature that allows you to keep fuel in the stove while its in your pack without leakage. It has a simmer ring or flame regulator. I love this feature. It allows you to either go for a full boil or simmer for delicate cooking and frying. This simmer ring has a nice fold away handle that works real well when on the stove. When looking for the full boil, 1 ounce of fuel (Denatured Alcohol) will get water to a rolling boil in 5 minutes. That was a time that I never thought I could get out of an alcohol stove. I am not big on faster boiling or cooking. The way I see it.. I’m camping, relax and enjoy it. Which brings me to another feature of the stove that I love. It makes no noise. It is absolutely quiet. Real nice to site around and chat with.
Alright… But the BSA has a ban on alcohol stoves.. right? No. the BSA has defined the prohibition like this; “Prohibited chemical-fueled equipment—Equipment that is handcrafted, homemade, modified, or installed beyond the manufacturer’s stated design limitations or use. Examples include alcohol-burning “can” stoves, smudge pots, improperly installed heaters, and propane burners with their regulators removed. ” – Chemical Fuels and Equipment publication. Homemade stoves are banned.. but stoves like the Trangia or the Esbit are manufactured with the intent of being used as a stove.
The fuel on the other hand is where the question and where you will have to make a judgment call. Denatured Alcohol is “Not Recommended”, but no where does it state it is prohibited. So you have to be the judge. Here is my take. Let me be clear here. This is MY take. I understand that the BSA has to make decisions based on the lowest common denominator. Denatured alcohol, while it may be toxic if swallowed, is non explosive and extremely stable. The absolute worst thing that can happen if it spills is evaporation. No gear is ruined, and it will be dry before you need it.
The danger comes in the color of the flame. The flame when first lit is almost invisible. This could lead to burns. But in my opinion that rule goes for any stove. Proper training and instruction is important when using this stove. So what I am saying is that when Scouts in my Troop ask if they can use one of these, the answer will be yes to Scouts that I trust can handle it. Scouts that have proven that they will operate it with care. I suppose it is just like giving a Scout his Totin’ Chip. Once they are trained and demonstrate proper use and care, they are allowed to carry and use a Knife, Saw, and Ax. We trust them with other stoves, but only after training. The Esbit Stove is much easier to use than most stove. It is clean, small, and easy to maintain. The only moving part is the simmer ring, which is not used when just boiling.
I love this stove and look forward to cooking many great meals on it. I’ll report more as I use it. Stay tuned.
Have a Great Scouting Day!