Thursday, November 29, 2012

Esbit Stove Windscreen

Last winter I created a MYOG windscreen for my included-in-the-box electrolytic galvanized steel Esbit stove.  While not the high performance efficiency of the super hot Caldera Cone system, or very lightweight (stove itself weighs 2.9 ounces), it does work much better now when it is windy out.
Esbit stove fits inside GSI cup inside Snow Peak 700 pot, plus pot holder and lighter.
I carry my tea, coffee and honey in there also on day trips.
 The details: I cut two shaped pieces from a used aluminum 8" pie pan from the recycle bin, and bent them over a straight edge to hang the tabs over the triangle-shaped open sides of the standard Esbit stove.  I use the stove at the halfway opening to securely hold my 4.5 ounce Snow Peak 700 titanium pot and I cut the pieces to fit this.  The shields are ultralight weight at a total of 0.1 ounce or 2 grams.
Up to 4 Esbit tabs can be stored inside the folded stove, bagged for smell.
I also cut a piece for the bottom to protect picnic tables and the ground from burns.  All sheets are sized to fit inside the closed stove for compact packing plus hold up to 4 full-size Esbit tabs.  It all fits inside my ultralight 2.9 ounce GSI Outdoors cup packed inside my cook pot (tabs are packed in a Ziplock bag to keep the Esbit fishy smell contained).
Folded wind shields fit on stove bottom
In use, the main difference is I could actually light the Esbit tabs when it was windy, where I couldn't light them before.  I'm defining windy as about 15-20 mph winds, typically what you get in central Florida.  In a gale (39-54 mph) I doubt it would work at all.  I used a mini-Bic lighter held sideways, using my first finger at the business end to get the flame closest to the Esbit tab (without burning my thumb off).
Folded tabs hold shields in place.  Note shield below the stove.  Air flow is open at bottom around tabs.
I was also able to light the tabs with a paper book of matches by taking one side off the windscreen, laying the lit match beside the tab and replacing the screen part.  This was always the side away from the wind.
With the windscreen, the tabs burned well, boiling my water before the half-tabs burned out.  The one I timed on a windy day was a half tab at a rolling boil at 7 minutes, 10 seconds.  A full tab usually lasts about 16 minutes with the shields, but your mileage may vary.
Windshields are ultralight weight and allow significant airflow through the stove bottom.
My other home-made, circular, aluminum wind screen didn't work as well, perhaps cutting off too much air to the bottom of the stove.  I really didn't spend much time messing with this round screen, but I kept it for future use.  I was also trying to make my tabs last and not burn them all up while testing.
I have been using one half an Esbit tab per one cup of boiling water and always had a little leftover tab.  I found the leftover tabs to not burn as well when piled together and after reading the Esbit MSDS, I decided not even to touch it, when possible.  I let it burn the remainder.  The MSDS tells me that Esbit is a very toxic chemical called Methenamine, not to be messed with other than cut with a knife for outdoors cooking in the open air.  Material Safety Data Sheets are required of businesses who deal with chemical compounds and are the go-to documents for environmental and work-related safety issues. They can be trusted.
Typically on a day hike I brewed a cup of tea bag coffee or made a hot herbal Zinger tea to wash down my trail munchies while enjoying the view at the halfway point.  I'll be using this stove for boiling water for bag cooking my dinners and drinks, usually 2 cups of water, with one full tab.  Esbit makes the perfect ultralight weight fuel for my use.
I did find the same stove made in Stainless Steel on Amazon in case you are interested.  I do plan to keep my stove for lightweight day hikes and emergencies.
Brian Green on his blog made an excellent titanium MYOG Esbit stove here.  Cutting plans are at the end of the full instructions.
REI (and many others) sell a 0.4 ounce folding Esbit stove, if you would prefer to purchase one.  It is well-rated, but I'm sticking with what I already have until I buy the classic ti-tri Caldera Cone system sometime next year.  I want the ti Caldera stove for the ability of burning wood as a fuel in an emergency.