Monday, October 7, 2013

Paperclip cup and efficient!

While hiking today I decided to build a small twig fire and brew a cup of hot coffee. I used my folding E-tool to clear away dry grass and leaves and to scrape a small key-hole fire pit, which I banked and lined with rocks. I then cut some green wood stakes, sharpened the ends, and drove them into the ground to make a stand for my cup:

As I worked on the fire pit, I became aware of wind gusts and, noting the dry conditions, decided against having an open fire for safety. However, I always carry some ESBIT tablets and a steel paperclip cup from the Dollar Store in my trail kit for a field-expedient cook stove.

Two or three ESBIT tablets nest nicely inside the paperclip cup. The paperclip cup is perforated and draws air well, allowing a hot burn. I used to use ESBIT stoves but got tired of them collapsing and spilling water everywhere and extinguishing my fuel. In the photo below, you can see the paperclip cup stove brewing my coffee:

One ESBIT tablet will make a hot cup of water or coffee, but I do not recall ever having achieved a "rolling boil" with just one tablet. Surplus U.S. Military Trioxane tablets work excellent, but are hard to find, as they are no longer made [MRE's have a self-contained meal heater packet]. I have had poor results using the current military gel fuel packs, and STERNO is a waste of time and money in my opinion. 

Always be aware that even the green wood pegs will dry out and burn during the process. Be watchful and attentive to your fire and keep water and a shovel or E-tool handy for safety. The wind was blowing the flame, robbing some heat, and you can see two of the pegs became charred:

After enjoying my coffee I poured water on the charred pegs and then coated them with thick, wet mud to ensure they were completely extinguished.  A paperclip cup stove works well and only costs a dollar, versus the $7 to $10 dollar ESBIT stove. If I forget or lose it, it is no loss.
One other thought: a quick and easy alternative to fashioning wooden pegs is to go to your hardware store and buy some 3/8 in. x 10 in. galvanized-steel spike nails. the flat heads work well for a cup or pot stand and they will not burn. Also, you can double-duty them as tent or tarp shelter stakes or for a spear point, digging tool, etc., although they'll add a fair amount of weight to your pack. 

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