Esbit Alcohol Stove

OK.. I tried to get this post out yesterday.. not sure if it was the computer or the operator.. but lets try it again…

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! 

Categories: Backpacking, blog, Cooking, gear, Just fun | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Esbit Alcohol Stove

  1. Tim

    After seeing yours at Rendezvous, I’ve ordered one. I’ve carried a “homemade” can stove when I go out kayaking with friends, but have left it home on Scout river trips. Now I’ll be able to take it with me on both.

  2. Pingback: My Cook Kit | The Scoutmaster Minute

  3. Kirby

    I know your feeling of falling in love with this stove. About 10 years ago I was at a surplus store and first noticed the swedish millitary cook kits so I bought one. I used it on a few campouts and loved it, went back to the surplus store and bought all of them on the shelf, at that time they were $1.50 each. Since then I have outfitted many scout patrols with them. IsoHEET makes for great cheap fuel in them. Recently I have run into arguments from those at the council office, all interpitating the Guide to Safe Scouting differntly. My troop has now 8 of the Trangia 25’s for their backpacking trips. Remember we are training tomorrows leaders, and like the blog said if the kScouts are trained with the use of the stoves there are very few issues.

    I dont agree with the policy about alcohol stoves in the G2SS. Maybe if Coleman (a very large capitol contributor to the BSA) would have come up with it before the Sweed’s or the Germans then I think the Policy would be differnt.

    Scoutmaster Troop 180

  4. Mike

    Can you do any cooking with these stoves like in a small frying pan. I have ordered one to see how it works.

    • Yes you can. You can adjust the flame and reduce heat when needed and therefore you can cook pretty much anything. I have used my one egg wonder with it to cook eggs and english muffins and to saute’ onions etc. This stove is pretty much all I use.
      Thanks for the comment

  5. Brent Richie

    The Esbit Stove does not use White Gas! Trangia and esbit Alcohol Stoves only use Denatured Alcohol or HEET in the Yellow Bottle and similar grain alcohols. White gas is explosive, especially in a Alcohol Stove.

    • According the Esbit web site the stove will burn white gas… now I would never do that, seems to be a bit sketchy to me, but according to their web site it will burn it.
      Thanks for the comment.

  6. As someone who specializes in fire safety for a living (for NASA), I would like to correct the misunderstandings about alcohol stoves (ethanol, denatured alcohol, isopropyl, methanol, it doesn’t matter). They all are fundamentally more dangerous than white gas stoves. The head space in an alcohol container is virtually always flammable but in an equilibrated gas can it is not flammable (i.e. not explosive) contrary to what you might think, dropping a match into an equilibrated gas tank is not nearly as deadly as an alcohol tank. (It’s all a matter of the vapor pressure and the rich flammability limit). Furthermore most alcohol stoves are filled at the point of use and the flame is invisible so the chance for a mistake is greater. Every gas stove I have ever seen is impossible to fuel when lit so you are in a safer situation, you can pick the stove up and fuel it a few feet away. If your alcohol stove runs out of fuel while you are cooking you will want to add alcohol, if it’s a bright day you may not see there is still a flame and then you have a very bad day. There are numerous accidents with alcohol bottles exploding.
    Gas stoves are still dangerous and need to be handled with caution but alcohol stoves are unwise in the hands of scouts.
    While BSA does not forbid alcohol stoves they do not recommend them, in my opinion they raise too many risks and should not be used.

    • David thank you for your comment, I appreciate it. While I disagree with you, I understand your concerns. I have been using alcohol stoves for years now.. not homemade stoves, but like the Esbit stove that I posted about and the Trangia stove (designed and manufactured for the Swedish Military). Over those years of use I have never seen an accident with the stoves.
      I think, as with anything that we teach our Scouts, we need to teach them to use them properly, whether that is a gas stove, a knife or ax or setting up a tent. One would NEVER refuel an alcohol stove while cooking.. that just doesn’t make sense.
      In so far as the flame.. in most cases you can in fact see the flame.. but a simple wave of the hand over the stove would let you know if it is still burning or not.. again.. training to use the equipment properly.
      I guess I have a different view of our young me. I think they can handle things that are challenging and a bit on the edge. Once they are trained.
      A good number of Scouts in my Troop use manufactured (Purchased at REI) Vargo alcohol stoves or the Esbit/Trangia stoves. I require that they carry their fuel in approved fuel containers like the MSR fuel bottle. We have never had a problem.
      They know that the stove is not a toy and that they need to be responsible with it. Just like using a Whisper lite, Jet boil, or any other stove.
      Again, I appreciate your comments and fundamentally get your point. I simply disagree but am glad that you shared your opinion on this.
      Have a Great Scouting Day!

      • Kirby

        I tend to agree with Jerry again on this, after traveling Europe and going to several Jamborees and Scout Conferences. The Alcohol Stove is by far the most popular stove in Europe. I have several Swedish Military Stoves about 60 of them to be exact. Again Just like a petroleum based stove, training is key, Yes the comment is true you can not see the flame on a sunny day, but try it on a whisper lite under the same conditions all you can is hear it burning. Then there is another argument, but again you can not count on a scout to listen for the stove, heck the scout has a tough enough time listening to directions. Again with out opening Pandora’s box here, and Jerry states it well, training is key in everything and there are instances where petroleum based stoves have done as much or even more damage when a tank explodes. I have a leader in my troop that had the bottle explode on him, the bed liner of his truck still shows the burns and dents.

        All in all with proper training, and responsible adults, (more of the responsible adults part) I feel as safe with my scouts and the alcohol stoves as I do with petroleum based one. For the record I have never used or owned a homemade alcohol stove, Pepsi can type. My favorite stove is the Vargo Triad stove. Light weight and small. ( I have several Esbit and Trangia burners too)

      • Thanks for the response and “support” for not treating our Scouting like little boys. I am a firm believer in age appropriate responsibility and giving them the latitude to test their skills and limits. It should be said that I will never put a Scout in harms way.. but it should also be said that I tend to believe more in the ability of our young men than most of their parents do.
        If Mom and Dad are not comfortable with what we do and how we do it, they have options.
        Our parents are involved in the gear choices for their sons and typically ask for my opinion and “how to’s” before they buy the stoves or any other gear for their Scout.
        Anyway.. thanks again.

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