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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Stoves > Esbit Alcohol Burner > Owner Review by Katie Montovan

Esbit Alcohol Burner

Esbit Alcohol Stove

Owner Review by Kathryn Montovan
August 24, 2015

Tester Information

Name: Kathryn Montovan


I have been backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing and winter camping for over 15 years. My excursions are mostly weekend and occasionally weeklong backpacking and kayaking trips in the wooded and often wet, mountainous terrain of eastern New York, and western Vermont. I usually tent camp with my family and love to cook fun and delicious foods on my trips. In general, I strive for a compact and light pack and value well-made and durable gear.

E-Mail: sull0294(at)gmail(dot)com
Age: 32
Location: Bennington, Vermont USA
Gender: F
Height: 5' 5" (1.65 m)
Weight: 150 lb (68 kg)

Product Information

Product Information and Specifications:

Year of Manufacture: 
Manufacturer's Website:
Listed Weight: 3.25 oz (92 g)
Measured Weight: 3.4 oz (97.4 g)
Body Material:
Listed Height:
1.8 in (4.6 cm)
Listed Diameter:
2.9 in (7.4 cm)
Measured Height:
1.75" (4.4 cm)
Measured Diameter:
3" (7.6 cm)
Included Pieces:
Burner, flame regulator, and screw cap

Esbit Alcohol Burner
The Esbit Alcohol Burner with the flame regulator partially open.

Product Description

The Esbit Alcohol Burner is a simple little stove that burns alcohol. It has a brass body, an adjustable flame regulator, and a screw cap with a rubber seal. The main body of the stove is constructed from 3 pieces of metal with seams a little below the threads on the outside and just inside the burner holes on the inside. There is a bit of a gap at the bottom of the stove on the inside between the inner wall and outer wall of the stove. 

Alcohol is poured into a large opening in the center of the stove and the fuel vapors are lit on fire. This heats the stove walls and the fuel and causes more fuel to vaporize. Before long vapor pressure builds up in the outer chamber and the pressurized fuel vapor shoots out of the jets and burns. The flames of burning alcohol are generally not visible during the day.

Owner Review:

I have been using this stove for about 3 years and have used it on dozens of backpacking, canoe camping, kayak camping and car camping trips to cook for myself and up to 3 other people. I have used it in temperatures ranging from 40 F to 100 F (5 C to 38 C), weather that included both rain and sunshine, and elevations ranging from sea level to 2000 ft (610 m).

How to use the stove:

The following are the directions from the packaging I received with my stove.
Directions for Esbit Alcohol Burner

I have only used denatured alcohol from the paint store (95% denatured alcohol) as my fuel and bring it along in a small well-marked plastic bottle. As noted in the directions, 2.5 oz (74 mL) is typically enough to cook for about 30 minutes and we bring an appropriate amount for the cooking we plan to do. I have never mixed water with the fuel to reduce soot, but I also have never had a problem with the stove leaving soot on my pans. Sometimes my pot is slightly discolored but it does not rub off on my other gear so it hasn't really been a problem.

To use the burner, I take off both the flame regulator and the storage cap, fill the stove about 2/3 full, place it within the framework I use as a pot stand and use a steal flint striker to light the stove. I am very careful to pay attention when lighting the stove as the flames of alcohol are not visible and it is easy to not notice/forget that it is burning. I often hold a blade of grass over the stove to see if it is lit. If the grass burns then the burner is lit.

Pot Stand:

When I heard about alcohol stoves I loved the idea of a simple stove that you could even make yourself if you wanted to. I made several versions of alcohol stoves and loved the way they burned but didn't love how fragile they were and I could not find or make a sturdy and transportable pot-stand. Then I tested a wood burning stove (the solo stove) which worked beautifully as a pot stand and I discovered the Esbit Alcohol Burner which is much sturdier than all of my homemade alcohol stoves.  It was the perfect combination that allowed me to switch over to mostly using an alcohol stove. I love this stove and I am willing to carry the extra weight of the wood stove to have a reliable and sturdy stand and a backup option of cooking with wood if necessary.

Using the Flame Regulator:

I frequently use the flame regulator to lower the cooking temperature. I have found that it is very difficult to adjust once it is on the burner, but that I can use my pot grip to get it off the stove, let it cool for a few seconds, adjust it with my hands, and use the pot grip to put it back on the burner. The folding handle makes it easy to grab off the stove and to replace without burning myself. It can be adjusted to a wide range of temperatures and has made the alcohol burner my chosen stove for cooking pancakes. When cooking is done, I take the regulator off, close it all the way and put it back on the stove to snuff out the flame. I then let it cool for a minute and screw on the storage cap to save the left-over fuel for later. I have had no problems with leaks from the screw-on cap with the rubber gasket, but have started to have some problems with the rubber gasket falling out of the cap and getting lost.

Field Use:

I have used this burner in a range of conditions and have not run into any problems with it. In the rain it is nice that it is so easy and quick to start. Also, since you can mix water with the alcohol according to the directions there is no harm if a little rain makes it into the stove before the pot is there to shield it. I have not noticed any effect of heat, humidity, or elevation on the performance of this burner in the conditions I have used it. I have not used it in below-freezing temperatures or above 2000 ft (610 m) so I cannot comment on the performance under these somewhat more challenging conditions. I have used it to boil water in my small titanium cup as well as a large pot. It takes longer to boil a large pot of water, but quickly boils a titanium mug full of water (approximately 400 mL). I have also used this burner to cook all sorts of things including pancakes, cinnamon rolls, pizza, pasta, couscous and soup and have always been pleased by its performance.

What I like:

  • Small Size
  • Easy to start and use
  • Adjustable cooking heat
  • Clean burning
  • Fuss-free
  • Simple design
  • Sturdy construction

What I didn't like:

  • Didn't come with a pot stand and sturdy pot stands are somewhat hard to purchase separately or make.
  • Invisible flame


During my extended use of this stove I have found that the Esbit Alcohol Burner is reliable, adjustable, and easy to use. It has become my favorite stove over many of the fancier options in my camping bin. It is sturdier, burns longer, is hotter, and generally less fussy than the pop-can alcohol stove I made years ago. It is easier to use than my white-gas stove, and I don't miss any of the pumping. It is cleaner and much easier than my wood stove. It takes longer than the Jetboil, but can be used with any pan I want, is smaller, and doesn't require the bulky and pricey fuel canisters. Overall I would say that it compares most closely to our Jetboil in that it is a stove that I can set up and light it effortlessly, and when heating water I can leave it for several minutes while I prepare other things, and when I come back the water is boiling. Also, after having a student get burned severely by a malfunctioning pressurized white gas stove, I really appreciate the simplicity and predictable nature of this burner. It has become my stove of choice and I rarely use another stove from our collection unless I have run out of denatured alcohol.

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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Stoves > Esbit Alcohol Burner > Owner Review by Katie Montovan

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