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Hexamine Vs. Trioxane-What Is The Best Overall, Emergency Fuel Source?

Hexamine and Trioxane are both artificial fuel sources that are designed for outdoor use. Each of these fuel sources is commonly used by hikers, backpackers, hunters, etc. As such, they are also a potential excellent addition to your disaster prep supplies.

Both of these products will be examined and afterward, I will go into the advantages and disadvantages of both trioxane and hexamine. Additionally, in the end, I will give you my conclusions and recommendations. It is my goal that, at the end of this article, that you will be able to make an educated decision on whether to choose either hexamine, trioxane, or perhaps stick to the old standby of Sterno.

Esbit And Hexamine

Esbit Hexamine Tablets

Esbit Company

The Russian chemist, Aleksandr Butlerov in 1859 discovered hexamine, and in 1936 the German company Esbit invented the Esbit stove, which used a hexamine solid fuel tablet as its main fuel source. Esbit was the first or at least the first company to successfully use hexamine as a heat or fuel source. As such Esbit is often brought up when customers are wanting to purchase the hexamine fuel tablet and hexamine is often thought of as being Esbit fuel.

The only thing that you need to remember is that Esbit and hexamine are essentially the same product. Also, unless stated otherwise, in this article, if I am mentioning Esbit tablets you can assume that those fuel tablets are hexamine.

Hexamine Ingredients

The Esbit brand fuel tablets are manufactured from the ingredients methenamine and wax. These two ingredients are then formed into a fuel tablet.

Advantages and Disadvantages Of Hexamine Tablets

Esbit 1300-Degree Smokeless Solid Fuel Tablets for Hobby, Outdoor, and Emergency Use, 60 Pieces Each 4g

Advantages

  • User Friendly-A major reason for the Esbit brand of hexamine being so popular is the sturdy, disposable metal stoves that you can get with these fuel tablets.
  • Lightweight and Compact-Esbit tablets are lightweight and compact. Therefore, they are perfect for ultra-light backpackers, hunters, fishers, survivalists, etc.
  • Burns A Long Time-A single Esbit table will burn for 12 to 15 minutes, which can boil two cups of water in around eight minutes.
  • Heat-It burns hot, up to 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit, so it can be an emergency source of heat.
  • Smokeless-Little to no smoke shows up when a hexamine tablet is lit up.
  • Stable-When properly stored these tablets can last for ages.
  • Use Anywhere-It can be lit in subs zero degree temperatures and high altitudes.

Disadvantages

  • Hazardous-The safety sheet for Esbit’s Hexamine tablet states that these tablets, when burned, might contain the following hazardous substances: hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, nitrogen oxide, and ammonia.
  • Expense-Compared to alcohol, gas, or other stove fuels, hexamine tablets are expensive.
  • Hard To Light-Hexamine tablets is hard to light up.
  • Heating-Hexamine is known for unevenly distributing heat.
  • Mess-The tablets leave a sticky residue on your cooking pot and pans.
  • Noxious Fumes-Hexamine fumes are toxic. Therefore, cooking with hexamine tablets requires a pot or pan, a tight-fitting lid and food cannot touch the flames.
  • Only For Cooking-You can only use these tablets with a camping oven. Therefore, its use is a bit limited when it comes to outdoor survival.

Trioxane

G.I. Trioxane Heating Fuel Bars

Trioxane is a basic, heat source, which instead of tablets, comes in solid bars. (They are still though might see them being called trioxane tablets) Trioxane was the official, artificial heat source, for the US military the US Armed forces for decades. Most trioxane fuel tablets are generic as there are few if any brands that use trioxane as their main ingredient.

Main Ingredients

Trioxane is made from toxic formaldehyde. FYI- Formaldehyde is also known as embalming fluid.

Advantages and Disadvantages Of Trioxane

Firestarting Using Trioxane Tablets

Advantages

  • Battle-Tested– Trioxine tablets were given to US service members to use in the field and had been used for decades. So, they’ve been tested under extremely harsh and dangerous conditions.
  • Easy To Light-Hexamine is thought of by many to be easier to light up than trioxane tablets.
  • Not Messy– There is no messy residue left on your pots or pans after cooking.
  • Even Heat-The trioxane tablets distribute heat more evenly.

Disadvantages

  • Toxicity-If not carefully used, the formaldehyde fumes from the trioxide can cause serious medical problems.
  • Sub Par Heat Output-They emit a low amount of heat.
  • Outdated Tech-The fuel tablets are now outdated technology as they have been replaced in the military by “Fire gels.”
  • Doesn’t Burn As Long-A bar will only burn, at best, for eight minutes.
  • Military Surplus-Some of the military surplus issued trioxane bars are from the 90s era or even earlier. This is not necessarily bad because when properly sealed they last a long time. However, many military surplus items are abused and if bought via mail order you’ll not be able to inspect them before purchase.

Final Thoughts-Hexamine vs. Trioxane

Both trioxane and hexamine are heavily tested products that have been used for decades. As a result, they both get the job done. If you do not use these fuel sources indoors and do not inhale any fumes, you should worry about the toxicity of either fuel source.

My recommendations are based on ease of use, versatility, and cooking ability.

  • Ease of Use-The trioxane bar is easier to light. However, as long as your practice at home, learning to light up an Esbit and stove should not be that much of a challenge.
  • Cooking-Esbit fuel tablets are hotter and burn longer than trioxane, which makes them best for cooking or warming up your meals.
  • Versatility-Esbit’s hexamine tablets require a stove to be functional. Trioxane tables do not need a stove, and you can use trioxane in an Esbit or other stove. Therefore, as trioxane tables can be used for lighting a campfire for warmth and other non-cooking functions, it is more versatile.

Overall Recommendation

Based upon the Esbit being lightweight and including a disposable stove. The Esbit hexamine tables are the better choice between the two. A hexamine tablet and an included Esbit stove is easy way to cook food, warm up hot beverages, etc. And in a disaster, easiness means less stress, and reducing stress is essential when the SHTF. Therefore, unless you are familiar with trioxane, and are not needing a cooking fuel, I would use hexamine tablets over trioxane fuel tablets.