Friday, January 28, 2011

Stove of the Week: Tibetan Ti Wing Stove

Well, another week has passed, so it's time to post another stove.  This week, the stove of the week is the Tibetan Ti Wing Stove.  At 12g, the Tibetan Ti Wing Stove is one of the lightest backpacking stoves there is.  Every investigation I've read lists hexamine as the lightest overall fuel, all things considered (stove, packaging, the fuel itself).

The Tibetan Ti Wing Stove is a solid fuel stove.  It is typically used to burn hexamine cubes or tablets.  ESBIT brand is shown on the left and Stansport brand is shown on the right.  ESBIT is the "name" brand and is generally more expensive but is also, at least where I live, more widely available.  

The Ti Wing stove can also burn other things like military trioxane (toxic), Wetfire Tinder, etc.

OK, let's head out to one of my local test beds, the Verdugo Mountains of Southern California.

Finding a suitable spot, I unfold the three "wings" of the stove and place an ESBIT cube onto the burner pan.  Note that I've displaced the cube to the right.  Sometimes the cubes are a bit hard to light.  Being able to get a flame under the cube helps substantially.

And after a moment, we have flame.  Note that the flame is quite yellow.  Apparently the US military abandoned hexamine as a fuel because of this yellow flame and went to trioxane instead which has a much more subtle, blue flame.  Trioxane is however toxic both in terms of touching the fuel and in breathing the fumes.  Use trioxane with care.

Ti Wing Stove in use

Hexamine isn't a powerful fuel.  If you're used to the boil times of stoves that use petroleum based fuels, hexamine will be considerably slower.  Hexamine's power compares favorably to alcohol.  Nonetheless, in fairly short order, we pass the "tea test".  

The steam is a bit hard to see, but for you doubters, here it is, a full roiling boil:

And now, for a delicious cup of tea.

There are a couple of downsides to hexamine.  1) It's generally the most expensive fuel out there and 2) it leaves a brown residue on your pot.  It wouldn't be so bad if the residue were a hard residue, but, no, the residue is sticky and gooey and gets all over things.  I bring a plastic bag to put the pot in after use.  The good news is that the residue comes off with ease.

One nice thing about hexamine is that it can be blown out.  You do not need to burn the entire cube once lit.  As it cools, hexamine forms these odd crystals.  

Finally, tea enjoyed full well, I fold the wings of the Ti Wing Stove.  She's now ready to be stowed.

A most compact package.  The stove weighs a mere 12g (less than half an ounce).  The pot less than 3 ounces.  For less than a quarter pound, I've got a nice set to brew up with.  This is the lightest, most compact set up out there for hikers, hunters, mountain bikers, etc.  It's not the most powerful or versatile.  Definitely not one I'd want to have along in foul weather, but very light, compact, and easy to use.

I went hiking with my daughter yesterday by the way.  We had a fabulous time sitting by a creek together.  She enjoyed splashing her feet in the water.  Daddy enjoyed a break.  Can you see the family resemblance?  

I hope you've enjoyed this, another installment in my "Stove of the Week" series.


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