Military contract fuels doubts about Hexamine
A recent military contract has sparked further safety concerns about the fire-lighting fuel hexamine.
Hexamine is a fire-lighting fuel used by outdoor enthusiasts and the military to cook their food and warm their drinks. The health risks linked with using hexamine-based fuels resulted in the UK Ministry of Defence leading the way in trialling and adopting a new eco-friendly fuel called ‘FireDragon’ for their field cooking.
Over the years, many soldiers from around the world have complained of the harmful and nasty effects of using hexamine fuel. Laboratory trials have shown that Hexamine gives off high volumes of cyanide and formaldehyde, which in confined spaces can prove fatal. Soldiers have complained of suffering from headaches after inhaling the fumes produced when burning hexamine. Some were also hospitalised.
The British Army recently conducted laboratory testing and extensive field trials, comparing five alternative fuels and cooking systems with the old in service hexamine fuel and cooker.
The trials proved conclusively that the best fuel was found to be the new FireDragon fuel manufactured by BCB International Ltd, a well-established South Wales manufacturer of survival equipment.
BCB boss, Andrew Howell, explained how the FireDragon fuel was invented: “I recognised the need for a cleaner environmentally-friendly fuel for both Defence Forces as well as camping and outdoor enthusiasts wordwide.”
“I laid out the parameters I wanted in such a fuel: clean, quick burn time, easy to use, safe to handle and transport and to use ethanol, which I knew was an eco-friendly fuel source.”
“With this, I tasked the Chemistry department of the local university and amazingly after about 6 months of trial and error we hit on the magic formula (number 47) which is now in full scale production here in South Wales.
“An added benefit which we had not appreciated at the time of development, was that the FireDragon fuel blocks can also be used as a waterless soap; hence you can clean your hands prior to cooking and eating. This will certainly help to reduce the number of stomach bugs, you quite often, get from cooking outdoors.”
BCB’s Chemist, Ben Harrison, stated: “Cooking with FireDragon cuts the cooking time by half when compared to Hexamine. The primary reason being that FireDragon releases the energy much quicker and more intensely than Hexamine. It can also be lit when wet and in the rain.”
With the market introduction of FireDragon, people don’t have to needlessly put their health at potential risk when cooking outdoors any longer.”