Bioethanol and gel fuels
Bioethanol flame-effect fires have the same look and feel as ‘living’ flames but don't need to have a chimney or flue.
They don’t emit smoke or ash, but they’re flammable and can cause serious harm.
Follow our advice to find out how you can keep yourself (and others) safe around them.
How to safely use your bio-ethanol fire
Most accidents happen when topping up fuel because bio-ethanol is extremely flammable.
You can be seriously injured if the fuel spits on your clothes or catches other flammable objects.
- Never refill a lit or hot burner. When the fuel has been used up, it’s crucial to wait at least 15 minutes for the fire to cool down before topping up.
- Follow the instructions for your fire when filling the burner.
- Wipe up any spills before relighting your fuel.
- Always use an electric or manual taper to light your fire, at arm’s length.
- Always use the approved small containers to refuel as well as the appropriate fuel type.
Always store bio-ethanol in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and naked flames. We suggest storing it in garages and sheds, but make sure the fuel cannot be reached by children or pets.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when putting out your fire. It’s best to wait until the fire has naturally died and all the fuel is used up. Always make sure the fire is out before leaving the room or going to sleep.
Keep your room well-ventilated to stop carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. We recommend having a CO detector in the same room. For more information about carbon monoxide, take a look at our carbon monoxide advice.
Some bio-ethanol fires are moveable. Never move your fire when the burner is lit. When moving your fire, make sure to use a safe location: away from flammable materials, children and pets.
Victim shares their story
This couple’s experience with a bio-ethanol fire shows the devastation they can cause if you don't follow safety measures.
What to do if there’s a fire
If your bio-ethanol fire gets out of control and can’t be extinguished with the in-built mechanism in your fire, you must:
- Get out, closing doors behind you.
- Stay out
- Call the fire service (999).
Do not use water to try and put out the flames, as this will spread them further.
If your clothing catches fire, use the ‘Stop, drop and roll’ method.
Stop, drop and roll
What to do if your clothes catch fire.
Stop, drop and roll
[Background noise of a fire engine siren as the doors of a fire station open]
Alex: Hi, my name is Alex.
I'm a firefighter here at Crownhill Fire Station on Blue Watch.
As we haven't been able to come out and do school visits this year, we thought we'd deliver this short video on what to do if your clothes were to catch fire.
The three things we need you to do are:
- To STOP whatever you are doing
- DROP to the floor and cover your face
- ROLL three times each way until the flames are extinguished.
I will demonstrate this now.
[Alex lies on the ground and covers his face. He then rolls over and over sideways like a log to one side before rolling back the other way.]
Alex: Thank you for watching.
How they work
There are two types of fuel for flame-effect fires: bio-ethanol gel and bio-ethanol fuel. Both of these create an authentic flame look.
- With bio-ethanol gel, you insert the can into the grate before setting it alight.
- For bio-ethanol fires fuelled with a liquid, you pour this into the burner before lighting it.
The fuel burns for up to 4-5 hours unless extinguished.