School Me on Hexamine

Discussion in 'Stove Forum' started by Canuman, Mar 11, 2018.

  1. Canuman

    Canuman Subscriber

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    I have a Esbit stove with a Trangia burner - it's the stove in my avatar. While it's not my go-to stove, as a minimalist rig, it gets the job done.

    It came with a plate upon which one can place an Esbit hexamine tablet, and in theory cook something. For my druthers, I prefer cow chips, corn cobs, wet newspaper, and soap as fuel, in the order given.

    Hexamine is still used widely for some reason in various military ration kits. Is there something that I am missing?
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2018
  2. Afterburner

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    Maybe its easy to store and carry, don't mind from moisture. Also maybe some armies still have millions of tons of it (for cold war times) so they used it?
     
  3. Marc

    Marc Subscriber

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    Lightweight, won't evaporate or leak away like liquid fuels, won't melt in the heat like wax, much more difficult for an inept user to blow themselves or others up with it than other fuel/stove options, as near zero training for use needed as possible?
     
  4. Laitch

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    Ammunition, dry socks and coffee take up the corn cob/wet newspaper space.
     
  5. igh371

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    Everything you ever wanted to know about hexi stoves (and more) is to be found by trawling the British Army Rumour Service (ARRSE) ARRSEpedia:

    "Hexy is a slang abbreviation for Hexamine, a kind of solid fuel which allegedly (according to the powers that be) burns cleanly and leaves no residue or ash.
    Hexamine, given enough encouragement, will burn, releasing copious amounts of noxious fumes, its true there is no ash or residue left on the ground, this is because the residue has migrated to your mess tin, which is now coated in thick immovable black goo.
    'Hexy Telly' is the recreational use of hexamine, and many people claim to be able to read the future while in a hexy telly (fume) induced trance (quite often the future seems to consist of a mess tin coated in thick black goo and a lukewarm cup of tea, but you can't have everything).
    The perfect accompaniment to an evening in front of the hexy telly is of course gruff nut removal and sucking boilies until your gums bleed ..."(
    ref.)

    Further potential uses for hexy tabs are discussed in the reference but are not sufficiently politically correct for a delicate forum such as this.

    There are , however, other helpful tips to be found such as:
    "do not forget the proper way to test the stove to see if it is at proper cooking temperature is to place your face as near to the stove as possible and take as deep a breath as you can."

    And where could this have been heading?
    "the only thing that i've smelt worse than a hexy block burning/welding a mess tin to the cooker is the time ..." (answers on a postcard to ...)

    Ian:thumbup:

    ps the British army has now phased out the use of hexi ...
     
  6. Simes

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    Agree with the nasty residue on the pot, but in benign conditions does seem to be reasonably effective.

    Also the simplicity of just setting fire to it and it'll heat stuff in a pot.
     
  7. Murph

    Murph United States Subscriber

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    Most of those ration kits were made during wartime, when there was a lot of hexamine being produced daily, tons of it!

    Hexamine is the feed stock for production of RDX (cyclonite AKA hexogen) for wartime explosives, face it, you really can't have a decent war without scads of explosives!

    And as long as you're making hexamine for explosives, why not press tablets for heating field rations?

    It's also a hardening agent for thermosetting phenolic plastics, insulators, distributor caps, etc., and its use as a drug to treat urinary tract infections has come back in favour due to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

    Most of the fuel bars I see from military surplus now are trioxane or a trioxane/hexamine mix, around here, we don't see Esbit tablets, either. Coghlan's Heat Tabs are common, and a damn sight cheaper that Esbit tablets as well!

    Murph
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2018
  8. redspeedster

    redspeedster Subscriber

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    Hi
    I spent quite a bit of time experimenting with Hexi (and other solid fuel tablets). I found that setting fire to it sitting on a flat plate isn't the best way to get the most out of it. Some form of "chimney" effect will help it burn hotter and cleaner.
     
  9. Canuman

    Canuman Subscriber

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    Murph is correct with regard to cost. The Esbit tabs make it cheaper to go out for dinner. My stove came with a dozen tabs, which is all I've ever used after seeing what they cost. ($9/dozen currently.) I guess another possible advantage to them is that they don't seem to be particularly concerned sending them through the mail, and they may not be confiscated by the airlines.
     
  10. Canuman

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    By the way, do not read Ian's "Arrse" link above while drinking coffee. It does not end up well.
     
  11. Billofthenorth

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    It's for burning the food in the bottom of a c-ration can and leaving the stuff on top tepid.
     
  12. Murph

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    @igh371 , Ian, I see your link mentions making it into a explosive with a few common chemicals, I can attest to that, first hand!

    I had a tablespoon of the stuff go south on me at arm's length, tossed me against a wall, and put me in the hospital for a fortnight, it did! It's a rather saucy compound, rather sensitive to friction to put it mildly.

    We'd joke it was a Betty Crocker explosive, two teaspoons of this, three teaspoons of that, 4 tablespoons of something else, mix in a glass jar, come back in three hours and filter off the waste liquid and discard it - done.

    That was near 30 years ago, I explained it away in the ambulance, no problem back then. Now, you start buying a lot of hexy, expect to see Old Bill forthwith.

    Murph
     
  13. HercL4D2

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    Back in my younger days, I got my hands on some German Esbit folding stoves from WW2 surplus and I found some military fuel tablets that came in a mall round OD green paper roll. The folding stove and the fuel tablets were perfect for heating up some Camp coffee when I was out on the trail. Hexamine Tablets I think. I still have Hexamine/Trioxane fuel bars in storage and some Coghlans solid fuel tablets. I prefer the Esbit stove for its compact size and the Solid fuel tablets due to the high heat output. As far as the black residue that is left behind I remove that with a torch and a buffing wheel.
     
  14. Simes

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    I think the concern is how to deal with it on the road, gets quite messy with the soot and tar like residue.

    But saying that we were taught in scouts how to scour pans in a stream with a clod of grass and the gravel and sand, not sure if that's current. @Go Scout

    You could also make pretty effective water filters from the same materials, just make sure there wasn't a dead sheep up stream somewhere close by.
     
  15. Go Scout

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    @Simes

    "Brillo pads" is the simple answer!

    I was taught to mix up a paste from washing powder and a couple of drips of water. Smear a coating on the outside of pan/kettle before cooking over fire so that it is easier to get the soot etc off. Apparently, as an alternative you can smear neat washing up liquid on the outside too. Doh! Like I always remember to take washing powder to camp!

    Mostly don't worry too much about the outside being blackened, we just get 'the loose stuff' off so the pans don't leave a trail of mess.

    All a bit of a pfaff when you've got a keen bunch of Scouts armed with the good old Brillo Pads (pads made from fine wire wool impregnated with soap).

    We were also taught to make filters - get a perfectly good, serviceable bucket. Drill lots of holes in it (thus ruining perfectly good bucket). Fill naff bucket with lots of grass/straw etc. When draining any cooking liquids e.g. water out of the rice or pasta, pour liquid through filter, but not the rice or pasta. Apparently this is supposed to stop the wildlife detecting that you've got tasty food on site. Yeah right!

    Alternatively, drain liquid in woods near to where those annoying kids where talking all night. They'll all shut up when they here something sniffing around their tent at 2.00 a.m.!

    Baz
     
  16. redspeedster

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    To help cope with the sticky residue, I just wipe the base of the pot on the ground while it is still warm. If you leave it until the pan is cold, it sets up and is harder to get off IME.
     
  17. Go Scout

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    Heck!

    Who's been drilling holes in my 'Fire Bucket'?
     
  18. Canuman

    Canuman Subscriber

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    Well, as no one is currently shooting at me, I guess the Trangia alky burner makes more sense in my case. "Hexy Telly" sounds rather entertaining, however.

    I can buy a twelve-ounce bottle of methanol gasoline antifreeze for a dollar at the discount auto store. That will easily do a dozen cups of tea or water for freeze-dried meals or oatmeal at $ .08 per. The bottles are rugged, resealable, and haven't leaked so far. No residue either.

    I will look up hexamine tablets on the off chance I want to blow something up, but that urge has passed. I did manage to shatter the top of the bathroom vanity and blow the windowpane out when I was nine, using only locally available ingredients, but Mum would probably still thrash me if I attempted to repeat the experiment.
     
  19. Simes

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    Ah ha, washing up liquid, forgotten that trick, will have to try that during the next hexi test session.

    Have some boil in the bag ravioli to do at some point packed by the new vacuum sealer. I'll probably use the micro gassie that came with the new anodised pot set for that one.
     
  20. frg7700

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    I bought a case of the little disposable pot stands with hexi tablets that come in the French version of MRE/Compo about... I dunno maybe 20 years ago now. Still got a boat load of it left but I think I've now used all the matches from the packs as I used to run out when I smoked.

    I think it's finally starting to disappear in favour of "greener" solutions.