CAMP KITCHEN

The Esbit Alcohol Stove: Burning Strong in the Wooded Black

Esbit Survival Alcohol Stove
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

The three things the human body needs are food, water, and shelter. There is a common denominator in all three of these essentials, and that is fire. From the flint to the Esbit Alcohol Stove, technologies change but one thing is the same.

To adequately obtain and prepare these three things, undoubtedly, one is going to need fire. It cooks our food, purifies our water, and heats our homes in the dead-cold of night. Without the ability for man to make fire, life as we know it would be a dream, never realized.

Homosapians are explorers. We just are and always have been. Our need to seek the mysterious, great unknown is as vital to our success as a species as our opposable thumbs. Why do we leave the caves and the trees to venture into dangers unknown? Many reasons can dictate our expansion, but the drive comes from something inside, deep down. The wonder, thrill and beauty of it all.

Hiking meal break

Where is your next adventure taking you, and how will you spark a flame? If you are one who seeks out the wild and to travel the road less trod, the gear on your back is your life force. The tools in your pack represent the culmination of humans achievement and mastery of survival. The explorer needs a blade and a flame to survive, and a pocket stove is still the tool for the job.

History, Adventure and Portable Fire

For the vast expanse of our time on this planet, fire has seemed as a thing of the gods. Like air itself, this essential for life was gifted by something above, in the skies. With our mastery of the flame is, symbiotically seen, the flourishing of our culture and communication, as a species.

Early European explorers would burn animal fat in portable stoves, and, polar explorers used whale blubber for years, as the heat source for cooking their food. The history of adventuring and portable stoves, is the story of mankind’s love affair with fire.

Francis Fox Tuckett developed an alcohol stove in the 1850s, known as the “Russian Furnace,” or “Rob Roy,” for short. He developed this tool for explorers, campers, adventurers and survivalists. Since it’s inception, it has been essential for those in the wild and still is today.

Cooking with esbit stove

By the later half of the nineteenth century, lightweight and portable camping stoves, were staples in British and European homes. The use of portable alcohol stoves, such as the Esbit Alcohol-based Stove, was reported as early as 1919. Even today, these are the little canned flames that you might see beneath food trays at catered meals.

Vast uses are applied to alcohol stoves. They are used in catering, camping, picnicking, backpacking and any remote location adventure. Anywhere in which a human needs heat that is lightweight and easy to transport, you’ll see them. If you’re an explorer who needs heat to survive or to cook your food or boil your water, history behooves you to have a portable hiking stove in your pack.

Hiking Stoves

A hiking stove, or pocket stove, is a simple yet essential pieces of a survival kit. The concept is to carry the ability to cook or produce heat on one’s person in as lightweight and compact a manner as possible. To minimize weight and bulk, particularly for extended backpacking trips, can mean the difference between life and death in the wild. The basic design of a hiking stove is scalable and comes in a range of sizes, from tiny backpacking stoves to large, portable, wood stoves.

Esbit pocket stove

The simplest and most common type of stove for survivalists, backpackers and campers is an unpressurized, single burner design. Single burner designs are found as both hard fuel and liquid fuel stoves,The burner holds the fuel source and it will burn until it is extinguished by force, or the fuel source is spent.

Wood stoves

Advantages of a wood stove are abundant and all over the ground. Twigs, sticks, moss and pinecones are all perfect fuel sources and naturally found in plenty. For the hiker, backpacker and explorer, this means that there is no need to carry a fuel source in ones pack. However, that logic assumes that one will always have access to dry kindling and hard wood fuel.

This might be a problem in cold and wet climates. Even if you do have ample dry materials around you, this still leaves the task of actually producing a spark and making a fire. But, once the fire is going, you’re good to go. Good luck with that, really.

Solid fuel

Solid fuel was designed for people in survival situation who could not start a natural fire. Stoves made for hard fuel are designed to accommodate a brick of fuel, which has a similar consistency to wax. Hard fuel is easy to use and reliable. Emergency kits usually use solid fuel stoves because of how stable the source stays over time. Solid fuel burns on a saucer, below the unit being heated and will burn until it is put out or is used up.

Multifuel camping stove

Solid fuel stoves are lightweight and compact, however, the amount of fuel needed for longer trips can become an issue. For long term expeditions, liquid fuel stoves are often preferred. There is also the fact that turning a liquid fuel into a conveniently usable, solid form, requires a manufacturing process that will be less accessible in more remote areas.

Liquid fuel

Alcohol stoves, made for liquid fuel, are the most common way of producing fire for exploration and backpacking trips. The mobility and weight of the liquid fuel is much more convenient to travel with than solid fuel. The stoves are compact, stable and offer versatility in a huge range of environments. Though, alcohol stoves do have some limitations in exceptionally cold weather, they functional adequately outside of that cold temperatures.

Although, this also depends on one’s choice of liquid fuel. They have even been documented to operate in altitudes that surpass 14,000 feet above sea level, and have no trouble, in hot temperatures, using any fuel source. That being said, the type of liquid alcohol fuel one uses can make a great difference to the success of one’s adventure.

Isopropyl or Rubbing Alcohol

Isopropyl Alcohol can be found in the vast majority of drug stores across the world. However, what it makes up for in abundance, it lacks in functionality. Burning isopropanol causes excess soot and toxins. It has the highest heat content per gram, however, it contains toxic chemicals to the skin and lungs.

Isopropyl alcohol as fuel

This could be a fine fuel source if in a survival scenario or when no other option is available, but should not be cooked with inside of a closed environment for health reasons. All in all, it becomes more work than it’s worth when there are better options that are easily obtainable.

Ethanol or Ethyl Alcohol

Ethanol is, arguably, the best alcohol fuel source for burning. It has a very low freezing temperature, making it suitable for cold climate expeditions and burns clean. It also has the benefit of being extremely common in human society. Pure, grain alcohol, which is 190 proof or more, can be purchased at most liquor stores and is perfect for burning. However, clean ethanol, such as that, is pretty expensive to be using as fuel.

Denatured Alcohol

When you take ethanol that has been treated to be undrinkable and add methanol, you get denatured alcohol. Pure ethanol fuel is, technically, drinkable. Denatured alcohol is referring to the process of adding more than five percent methanol, rendering it inedible for human consumption.

Can of denatured alcohol

Methanol burns similar to ethanol but is less clean. The trouble with Denatured alcohol is the lack of ethanol content standards. Some bottles contain less than half ethanol and can have some toxic additives. Look for Green Denatured Alcohol as a much more reliable, ethanol based fuel.

Safety

When using a liquid fuel, it is always important to be safe. In case of accidents, do not place the burning canister on a surface that might catch fire and move flammable materials away from the stove. It’s a good idea to keep a bottle of water nearby, should something catch flame that was unintended.

Remember that alcohol flames are almost invisible when lit in the daylight, so, keep track so that you do not burn yourself. And, of course, never use a stove in a closed environment without ventilation.

Esbit Brass Alcohol Burner Camping Stove Review

Product specifications:

  • This alcohol burner is the ideal companion for adventure trips and expeditions
  • It can be used in connection with different equipment and has a leak-proof screw top with rubber seal, as well as a flame regulator with a fold-away handle for easy use
  • Brass body; Flame regulator with practical fold-away handle
  • With rubber seal, leak-proof , for safe transport
  • Variable temperature control.
  • Fold-away handle on the flame regulator to extinguish flame.
  • Works with denatured alcohol only.

Buy Esbit Brass Alcohol Burner Camping Stove on Amazon

Technical aspects

  • The Esbit Alcohol Burner Stove is a good option for a heat source in your survival pack. This stove is simple, functional and durable. Over the years, the basics of this stove have stayed the same, and there’s one, big reason. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
  • The Esbit Alcohol Burner is made out of pure brass and weighs only 91 grams, so light that you will not even notice its presence in your survival pack. When unpacked, the unit stands two inches high by six inches wide, making it small enough to fit is a pocket. The more parts there are, the more there is to break, and fire is one thing that technology can only help so much. This unit is reliable, which means everything in the wild.
  • The price for this unit is found in a range from $10 to over $30, but can usually be found around $17. It is outfitted with a rubber seal, making this stove leak-proof.
  • Many manufacturers will claim this feature, however, few brands can claim Esbit’s track record of reliable craftsmanship. Esbit has a clean record of reliable equipment, and shoddy craftsmanship is not a chance that one should take in the wilderness.
  • The Esbit Alcohol Stove is also designed to seamlessly be used in connection with Esbit’s other products. One has the option to add on a Cooking set, windscreen and carrying case. The benefits of add-ons, like Esbit’s Cooking Set, are convenience, reliability and versatility.
  • Windscreens are essential, and climbers should look at the carrying cases, just in case one would get thrown against a rockwall. Esbit’s gear is made for action and users know their products are designed to stand up to reasonable wear and tear.

Who is this product for?

Have you ever wanted to go off the grid? To just throw on a hiking bag filled with the essentials and best tool of survival, and see what you’re made of?

If your spirit yearns for the trees and to be free of the commercials, subdivisions and highways, you will want a pocket stove. So, to be sure you can eat, stay warm and drink water during your, back to nature awakening, keep this stove on your list of essentials.

Esbit alcohol stove inspection

A pocket stove is for anyone who follows in the footsteps of exploration. If you are a backpacker, camper, back yard griller or day hiker, a pocket stove could be a useful addition to your bag. Take a break from your hike to have a cup of hot tea. Or sterilize a blade to treat an unfortunate wound while you’re stuck out in the woods.

With a pocket stove, you can have the convenience of cooking a meal, wherever you take it. Cook meat, boil soup, purify drinking water, and steam vegetables.

An alcohol stove allows one to make the entire world their kitchen. With the ability to sustain cooking heat in any location, never hesitate to climb the highest peak or dive the deepest cave. Stop worrying about making a fire for warmth or getting viruses on your survivalist weekend trips.

How the product works

Just like any good tool in your pack or your tool chest, to maintain and preserve the quality of your pocket stove, it is important to practice proper use and upkeep of your tool. Using the Esbit Alcohol Stove is simple and straightforward. Simply, unscrew the top cap, and pour in your desired spirit to be used as fuel. The level of fill will depend on your preference of burn time.

How esbit stove works

Next, re-screw the top and, before you light the fumes escaping from the little hole on top, raise the flame adjuster. This is to be sure that the fumes are not being inhibited from releasing through the cap. Then, simply light the stove. The unit comes with a put-out cap, for traveling with partially full fuel canisters.

Opinions of Others

Opinions regarding this product are mostly positive. Users are generally of the opinion that it delivers all the features and benefits that it claims to offer. That being said, potential users should be aware that, according to some owners, there is a discrepancy in the size of the holes around the top.

Esbit vs Trangia

This can sometimes make the flame spark a bit. This occurrence could be a result of the manufacturing being done in China, according to a reviewer.

Pros

  • The Esbit is perfect for minimalist backpackers, looking to go on a weekend climb or hike.
  • Great for wilderness explorers who are taking prolonged treks.
  • Works well for low and high altitudes.
  • Easy to transport and use.
  • Mess free cleanup.

Cons

  • This product does not come with any add-ons.
  • Alcohol stoves have limited functionality in very cold environments.
  • The Esbit is not compatible to burn solid fuel.

Similar products on the market

Another reason, why the Esbit liquid fuel stove is a good choice for the gear bag, is that there is a wide range of similar products and prices on the market. This stove by Esbit ranges between $16.72 and $34.61, depending on the new or used status.

Trangia spirit burner

Similar products, like the Solo Alcohol Burner – Denatured Alcohol Stove, can cost more, in the range of $27.49, $14.54 for the Trangia Spirit Burner with Screwcap, and $9.09 for the Outdoor Survival Camping Cooking Compact Trangia Alcohol Burner Spirit Stove.

Though, saving ten or twenty dollars might seem like a good idea for a product that is such a small part of your gear pack, when the canister leaks your fuel all over your bag, you’ll regret pinching pennies. Esbit has solid feedback from customers and they are a company that doesn’t make many products, but, you can rest easy that what they make is quality hardware.

Your Turn

Now, the time has come to go forth unto the wild and seek your destiny. But, do it with the tools and knowhow that will help you survive. Man needs fire like rabbits need fur, and if you want to eat that rabbit which you’ve skinned, you’d better have a heat source and stove in your back pocket.

Buy on Amazon

Please, feel free to leave comments and check out the links. See you in the wild.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Veronica Archer

    Amazing. Literally never heard of this thing before. I do have a question. What is a Trangia? I read a review somewhere that mentioned this was something that should be bought in stead of the one made in China. Is this a brand or a different kind of alcohol stove?

  • John Jacobs

    This is interesting. I haven’t heard too much about these, really. I see that pinching pennies for this item is not something that is recommended. It seems like such a good addition, I could probably really invest in something like this. Would this be a long time investment? About how long would you say they last?

  • Daniel Carraway

    These are made by a Swedish manufacturer and are marketed for backpackers. This is similar to the ones I’ve reviewed – they are lightweight, durable and from trusted brands so you won’t miss out on great features.

  • Daniel Carraway

    Esbit stoves are durable – well, there’s not much moving parts so that’s a great factor. The simple design adds to it being lightweight. When you’re trekking with a sophisticated cooking implement that weighs as much as a huge rock – that’s literally a burden! These Esbit stoves are so backpacker friendly – it’s amazing!

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