Are Solid Fuel Tablets Good Fire Starters?


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Last Updated: November 15, 2022

Thinking about adding some solid fuel tablets to your emergency bag or wilderness kit?

Here’s what you need to know about solid fuel tabs and whether they are good fire starters.

Quick Answer:

Solid fuel tablets are good fire starters because they ignite easily and create a reliable flame. They are small and compact but still have a long burn time.

However, solid fuel tablets release toxic chemicals when burned. Some types also have a weird smell which may attract animals. Because of this, DIY fire starters are almost certainly a better option.

The video below shows an experiment we ran when testing a solid fuel tablet vs a homemade vaseline fire starter in a burn time test.

What Are Solid Fuel Tablets Made From?

Most solid fuel tablets are made from Hexamethylenetetramine (methenamine and hexamine). However, some solid fuel tablets are made from other chemicals such as kerosene, Trioxane, Metaldehyde, or alcohol in a solid form.

How Long Do Solid Fuel Tablets Last?

The burn time of a solid fuel tablet varies depending on what it’s made out of and its size.

These are the approximate burn times for hexamine tablets:

  • 4g tablet: 5 minutes
  • 5g tablet: 7 minutes
  • 14g tablet: 12 minutes


Are Solid Fuel Tablets Toxic?

Despite what manufacturers claim, solid fuel tablets do release toxic fumes. For example, hexamine tablets release formaldehyde and ammonia when burned.

Health organizations warn that hexamine can irritate the throat and lungs when inhaled and may cause chronic problems after exposure. Trioxane is even more toxic than hexamine.

Solid Fuel Tablets Stink!

A big problem with solid fuel tablets is that they smell terrible.

Esbit tablets and others made from hexamine have a fish-like smell. The Esbit brand says their tablets won’t attract animals, but some users state otherwise.

Kerosene-based solid fuel tablets are incredibly smelly and will stink up your entire backpack if not stored properly.

Do Solid Fuel Tablets Work When Wet?

No, solid fuel tablets won’t light when wet. For this reason, it’s recommended that you keep the tablets in a waterproof container to protect them.

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