Simplicity, functionality, and value
So these aren't the most convenient to use for a daily use stove but they'll work for that. I use them for day hikes while backpacking in colder weather. I have a regular stove at base camp and then bring a few of these bars along with a ti pot, water pump and freeze dried meal for day hikes. It's really nice to have a hot meal where ever you go.
At first, I used these with the Esbit stove but you really don't need the stove. Just dig a little hole in the sand, set a burning bar on a small flat stone, set the stone/burning bar in the hole or depression and set your pot on top of that. Or you can build a little rock pot support if it isn't too windy.
They work great for fire starters in the rain too.
They do stink, even in the packaging. It's bad enough you don't want it next to any food. Just wrap a few of these bars in foil to prevent the smell, and use the foil for a wind block when required.
A must have for any survival kit.
Up front: the stuff smells like fish. Not much fun to have in your pack. You can smell it through the packaging. My recommendation is to put it in a ziploc bag and keep it away from your food - and don't forget to keep it out of reach of scavengers at night. Once you put it in a ziploc bag, you can barely smell it.
Having said that, it works great once you put it to use. It doesn't stink when it burns, and it burns really hot. You can easily boil 8 oz in a Ti mug on less than 1 Esbit bar, provided you are using a windscreen. This is great stuff for freezer bag meals or just cooking up a quick mug of hot water for coffee. You can blow out the fuel when you are done and reuse it later, as it does not liquify like Trioxane.
Most Reliable Stove type
This is the most reliable form of stove fuel.Fuel has many names, ESBIT/Hexamine Tablets/Solid Fuel.ESBIT does not seem to be a commonly known fuel outside the military. I had used up my fuel and couldn't find this stuff in any of the General or Camping stores in Yellowstone NP. Only found it later in REI at Salt Lake City. Even there, there are employees who do not know what i was looking for (though one employee relished the opportunity to hunt for this obscure camping item).A windshield for the ESBIT stove is a must when there is a wind. Otherwise in my experience it would take two tablets to boil 2 cups of of water. ESBIT will leave black residues on the stove and cookery. Excellent for emergencies. Because the fuel is small, one can just dig a shallow narrow trench to use as a stove.
Work great! Smell not so great
Purchased this as a cheap alternative to cooking meals while hiking and camping. Very surprised as to how fast they can cook pasta for two (1.5 cubes burnt and around 10 min, but that's with getting water hot, adding pasta ect). They light very easy, only have to hold the flame to them for a few seconds, once they are going their good till you blow them out or their done.
Only reason for one less star, the smell. I knew they were suppose to smell, but whoa. Think of 2 day old fish sitting in the sun. I wrapped ours in tinfoil (doubles as a windbreak when needed) and placed them in a ziplock bag. Their pretty rank and ripe but dont smell while cooking. Very happy with the product!
A MUST HAVE
This was great. I was impressed and so were the others in my group. I just read from another person who used this product that you can put them out and reuse them again. Good info to know and pass along. One thing to remember when you light them is that make sure you hold up the fuel tablet and have the flame from your match or other fire source lick the bottm so that it can catch fire. We used a match and it the fuel didn't 'explode'or make much smoke. Most likely not recommended by the manufacture, but it works as long as you're careful and pay attention-just like everything else in life.
Doesn't smell unless...
I'm not really in a hurry when camping, so these and the stove are great for me. I tuck the stove into a GSI Minimalist set with 6 tablets (4 in the stove) and I'm ready to go.
Now, about the smell. Yes, these things smell like shrimp that's been left out in the sun... but if the packaging is secure, there is almost no smell. The problem is that the foil keeping the tablets in the packaging is so thin that practically breathing on it will tear it, and the smell gets out and soaks into everything.
I'm going to vacuum seal these things in the future.
The best fuel source available
I have been using these for nearly a decade. No other fuel source out there compares in my mind.
It is definitely the lightest weight fuel out there. It is very versatile - in that it can be used for many other things. It boils a cup of water in ~5minutes. It doesn't add any unpleasant taste to your food. It is very safe for transport and storage. A few of these and the stove fit into the average pants pocket!
My only gripe is the stove (especially one thats really old) and used tabs smell kinda odd/bad. But that's what ziplock bags are for!
Better than alternatives
I love Esbit for cooking simple meals while backpacking, especially with a caldera cone type stove. Simple, light, easy to use, never any doubts about whether you have enough fuel, can't spill and cause problems. With the right stove, I can boil water for dinner and hot tea afterwards.
Smelly - yes, slightly. Ever spilled gasoline or alcohol? Ever had a gas cartridge leak in your pack? I have, it's smelly!
Biggest drawback is the burned gunk Esbit leaves on the bottom of your pot. Easy to clean off, or keep your pot in a stuff sack or plastic bag.
Good lightweight heat
I have used these fuel tabs off-and-on for many years as an ultralight alternative to carrying a stove. They are easy to light, burn hot, and are low on weight. One tab isn't likely to boil a whole quart/liter of water, but is typically sufficient to heat enough water for a packaged backpacker meal. Like all trioxane-based fuel tabs, they emit a disagreeable odor when not being burned. That smell will permeate any adjacent gear, so I keep them in a tough poly bag.
2 tabs lit together brings 3 cups of water to a rolling boil in a small, thin, lightweight steel cup (the kind that nest into the bottom of a Nalgene bottle) at 6k feet.
Lights easy with a match if you don't have to fight the wind.
This fuel is NOT for cooking. It is simply for boiling water and it does it very well.