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Portable Stoves (pics) - Esbit & Wetfire make Ramen!

Discussion in 'Other Every Day Carry Items' started by BubbaFett, Jun 29, 2013.

  1. BubbaFett
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    BubbaFett Loaded Pockets

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    Rather than a review this is just my experience trying to make some survival-style Ramen on my porch today. I'm not an expert in these matters by any means, just a suburbanite that's been camping a few times but wants to be more self-reliant via some basic EDC and knowledge.

    [​IMG]

    You'll notice I didn't call it Esbit vs. Wetfire, and that's because rather than saying which one is "better," I am just sharing my findings on my particular needs today.

    Conditions in Houston today are HOT (currently 102 degrees F) and slightly windy.

    Items used in testing:

    Wetfire Stove & Tinder tablets
    Esbit Stove & Fuel tablets
    Strikeforce Fire Starter
    Leatherman Sidekick
    Small coffee can
    Bic Lighter
    Zippo (butane torch insert)
    Ramen Noodles (beef)
    Beef Jerky

    [​IMG]

    My goal was simply to make some Ramen noodles on the porch with either or both stoves. Beef jerky added for flavor.

    The Wetfire Stove claims to boil 1 cup of water in 5-6 minutes. For Ramen Noodles you need 2 cups, but I wanted to give it a shot anyway just to establish some baseline knowledge for myself.

    [​IMG]

    One cube of Wetfire Tinder did not even get close to boiling 2 cups of water in my small coffee can. I tried using two cubes of Wetfire, and it seemed to do a little better, but the hottest temperature I recorded with the food thermometer was ~160 F.

    [​IMG]

    Rather than continue burning through Wetfire Tinder, I decided to break the Esbit Stove out of my BOB for a test. After finally getting it to light, the Esbit fuel seemed to do a little better than the Wetfire, getting to ~160 F with only one tablet (I used fresh water from the tap if you were wondering).

    [​IMG]

    About that time the Esbit tablet was almost gone however, and I decided to drop a second tablet on top of the first with my trusty sidekick, Mr. Leatherman. A few minutes later I did achieve boiling temperature, so I dropped the noodles in.

    At that point I just let the second fuel tablet burn out and then added the seasoning packet (plus jerky). Ramen achieved! (Sidebar: does this look like a map to anyone else? :eek: )

    [​IMG]

    Things I learned:

    - Neither fuel source lit up as easily as I expected. The Wetfire was fairly simple AFTER I remembered to scrape some shavings first, but apparently the Esbit Fuel cannot be lit with a fire steel (this is through my experience + some googling after the fact). I finally had to just hold a lighter on it. In a survival situation I could have lit some alternate tinder (lint, small branches, etc)... if for some reason I didn't have my bic ;)

    - If boiling more than a cup of water I will definitely have to feed the fire somewhat. I would have done that in the wild/in a survival situation, but I did not want to do that on my patio--plus, I wanted to see what the fuel(s) would do by themselves.

    - TEST YOUR GEAR! Secondhand/theoretical knowledge is useful, but not nearly as useful as trying it yourself. Besides what I learned about the stoves, I figured out that I don't much care for the Strikeforce. Its design kept getting in the way--cord & secret compartment lid kept moving around, which I found annoying. It worked, but next time I'll test one of the blanks I ordered from firesteel.com (no affiliation).

    - If I were going to EDC a coffee can for this purpose I would add a handle with some wiring/coat hanger/etc. Grabbing it with the Leatherman works okay but it only takes a small error to spill your can. Especially since...

    - The surface on both of these was problematic for my simple metal can. I couldn't get it centered on the prongs with the Wetfire stove, and I don't know WHAT is up with the surfaces on the Esbit, but it was worse. Both actually seemed stable but I kept worrying that any small gust of wind would knock the can over because they were so precariously balanced. I might actually just jam the Esbit stove into the ground and use it upside down next time.

    - My butane torch lighter (primarily cared for style & paracord--I always EDC a bic) is INVISIBLE in the daylight, which is infuriating if you are trying to use it to start a fire! :frantic:

    - I won't rely on either fuel source alone, and they both have pros/cons. Wetfire is lit easier, while Esbit seems to burn hotter. Also keep in mind you can use either fuel with either stove or on their own.

    Anyway, hopefully this was helpful or at least entertaining to someone. I know I had fun! :smug:
     
  2. SAKplumber
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    SAKplumber EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Where'dya get the pot, btw? It looks like an ordinary can but cut in an unordinary way.
     
  3. BubbaFett
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    Sorry I don't remember the brand of coffee, just ripped the label off. Pretty sure it just came from the grocery store.
     
  4. SAKplumber
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    SAKplumber EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    OH!! Coffee can!! I thought it seemed familiar. Am wondering if its quality enough for eating out of, ya know? A cheap can might leech stuff into the water. IDK.

    Looks like you had fun though:DEver make a Pepsi can stove? Pretty fun stuff there too, but carrying all of the Denatured Alcohol is heavy.
     
  5. Cobra 6 Actual

    Cobra 6 Actual Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks for this info. One thing you can do with a pot or can that feels ill-balanced is to use a tripod of some kind to suspend the pot or can just over the stove. Another thing I sometimes do is bring a small (6" X 6") piece of pine with me to use. First I cut off some fine shavings from the end to use as tinder; then I put my stove on it after I've leveled the board with stones. The tinder helps when I have 'ignition problems' with my stove.

    The board weighs practically nothing (I get them free as 'butt ends' from my local hardware store.).
     
  6. BubbaFett
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    BubbaFett Loaded Pockets

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    I hope so, because I DID eat out of it! Got the idea from a survival book (Build the Perfect Bug-Out Bag, Creek Stewart). Plus it had food in it to begin with, although I don't typically boil the coffee in the can, so I don't know for sure ;)

    Thanks, that's a good tip!
     
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  7. revs
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    Another idea, use a small wind screen. Piece of doubled up aluminum foil wrapped around 3/4 of the can and stove will retain more heat and let it heat the can and contents. Small stoves like these can really benefit from wind screens.
     
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  8. CSM-101
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    CSM-101 EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Even though food is stored in these cans, it may not be safe to COOK in. I was looking at a recipe last week for making bread in a coffee can and they said most cans today have a coating (BPA?) inside that makes them unsafe for cooking. One serving won't hurt you, but I'd look into something else for the pot.
     
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  9. xbanker
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    Side comment on the Wetfire cubes. Back two or three years ago, there was a problem with their packaging not being sufficiently airtight, such that an ingredient (petroleum product?) would evaporate and render the tabs unusable. Much like my luck with individually sealed packets of sanitizer and alcohol wipes stashed in kits for long periods.

    Because of that, I moved on to other similar products. But I've read that the manufacturer acknowledged issue, and beefed up their packaging to resolve. Don't recall reading whether or not it worked. Perhaps someone else can chime in with their experience.

    It does highlight the fact that at the least, if you have occasion to use partial cubes, airtight repacking the leftover is critical (and maybe not possible in less-than-ideal conditions).

    Finally, if you use these in any quantity, be aware that many say the sold-in-bulk and much less expensive Weber Lighter Cubes are the near-identical product.

    See more info in this informative 3-yr-old EDCF thread LINK and in this YT video

    .
     
  10. BubbaFett
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    Good info. I wasn't planning to use a coffee can frequently but your point is well taken.
     
  11. rsitter

    rsitter EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    you can have the 'legs' of the esbit stove only open to about 45 degrees and it'll be more stable i think... thats how i do it when i use one to boil water in a tin cup.
     
  12. Kilted1

    Kilted1 Loaded Pockets

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    A lid on your pot will make a huge difference in boil time. Even if you don't cook with it on, all those therms are just venting out the top while your water is getting up to temp.

    Thanks for the field report and commentary!
     
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  13. BubbaFett
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    Wow, lid seems obvious. Thanks for suggesting anyway since I didn't think of it. I'm going to blame the heat.
     
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  14. nightowl

    nightowl Loaded Pockets

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    Props to you for testing things before you actually need them!

    Extra props for doing it in 102 degrees ! :cool:
     
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  15. Sarky

    Sarky Loaded Pockets

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    I have a couple of little gas stoves, and this.

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Sarky

    Sarky Loaded Pockets

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    One of the gas stoves at Edale.

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. SurvivePenna
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    SurvivePenna EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Just found this thread...great stuff ! :cool: Subscribed.
    Will add more when I have time....:)
     
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  18. Cobra 6 Actual

    Cobra 6 Actual Loaded Pockets

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    I agree with the helpfulnesss of a windscreen. I carry two 18" squares of closed cell foam when backpacking. While cooking I sit on one and use the other as a windscreen (sometimes I have to secure it in the upright position with rocks or sticks) ... Works well.

    The foam has other uses: in my pack they soften the hard spots in it, so they go in the pack closest to my back. I also use them as mini sleeping pads: one for the butt and one for the feet.
     
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  19. revs
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    This is one I just picked up after seeing it and wondering how well it works.
    [​IMG]
    Packed next to a mini Bic.
    [​IMG]
    Open and ready to run. It's called a Choke Hazard stove for the ultralight backpackers. Uses denatured alcohol. I'm gonna try it out when I get a pot stand figured out. Have a similar one out of an aluminum beer bottle that works quite well. I will see where the kids hid it and get pics up.

    Nice thing about this one, is it is refillable while its running so you can cook a lot longer than the beer bottle stove. That's what the second cup and the silicone tubing is for.
     
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  20. ran23
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    I still have two of those GAZ stoves in the garage. Wind screen also for it.