Hi I am Melissa from NorthlineExpress and I would like to provide some information on gel fireplace fuels. We have had a lot of questions about gel fuel, how to use them, safety, and how they compare to wood or gas fuels. I will start first going over some general information about gel fuels and some questions that we have received and then compare gel fuel to other fuels like wood and gas.
What Are The Benefits of Using Gel Fuel
Because gel fuel is an alcohol based gel, it does not put out by products like wood paper and other materials do when they burn. That means that gel fuels are clean burning leaving behind no soot or ashes and putting off no smoke.
Gel fuel is also environmentally friendly. It burns with such little put off that you do not have to have a venting system and air quality within the room remains safe. The only thing left behind after burning gel fuels is the can which can be recycled.
If you love the ambiance of a dancing flame but hate the work of a real wood fire then gel fuel would be a great option for you. Gel fuel is easy to use. They do not flare up while lighting and the flame height grows slowly. It is also easy to put out by simply snuffing out the flame with the cans lid. You can also put out a can of gel fuel and relight them.
Gel fuel does produce heat. There will be variances between brands but gel fuel can produce between 1700-2500 BTUs per hour and has a burn time of 2-3 hours. It is also a great emergency backup because when the power is out you can use gel fuel to produce heat and light.
Gel fuel produces a realistic wood like flame and popping sound, whether you are trying to recreate a wood fire indoors or out. That is right gel fuel can be used both indoors and out and there are no flying embers to worry about. Gel fuels do contain organic additives that create the popping sound of a real wood fire, but do not worry they do not pop or snap so hard that you need to be concern with splattering gel fuel.
That covers the basic benefits of gel fuel now let’s get to the questions. Our first questions asked if gel fuel is safe. My answer to that would be; yes gel fuel is safe when used according to the directions. It is important that you are reading and follow all of the directions on the can prior to using the product. You should always remove the label from the can and follow the same safety procedures as you would with any other fire. It is after all a burning flame. You should also only burn gel fuel in its can and never add to or try to burn it in another container.
The next question that we often get is asking if the gel fuel produces any scent or odors. I have noticed that some of the gel fuels do seem to have an odor sometimes. According to the manufacturers these odors are not harmful. The odor can be unpleasant to sensitive noses and there are some things that you can do to minimize the odor. First always make sure that you remove the label from the can before burning it. Shaking the can very well also can help. As the cans sit the materials separate over time and the better it is mixed the better it will burn.
Another question that we get frequently is how many containers may I burn indoors at one time? Manufacturers say that you can burn up to three cans at one time indoors.
Now let’s take a moment to compare gel fuel to both wood and gas fires. In comparison to a wood fire gel fuel will burn with a comparable flame and realistic popping and crackling sound. Gel fuel will also leave less clean up because it does not produce build up like soot or ashes. Gel fuel will also require less manual labor. The only lifting will be when you bring your box in from delivery unlike firewood which you have to continuously bring in and stack. Another major plus over wood is there is not venting required so you do not have to buy and install a pricey venting system like you would have to with a wood stove. You can also start and stop a gel fuel fire a lot faster than a wood fire.
When you compare gel fuel to a gas fire you will notice the first main benefit in the gel fuels favor is that you do not have to have a gas line providing a constant fuel source. Gel fuel also will provide the authentic sounds of a wood fire where a gas fire will only replicate the flame not the sound of the flame. Natural Gas or Propane fires also need to be vented where the gel fuel does not. If you are using propane also your flame will be blue, rather than the orange flame put off by wood fire. The lack of the venting system and fuel line make it a great idea for more places around your home or patio. Gel fuel also burns cleaner than gas making it a less polluting fuel source. The final consideration is that you do not have to worry about filling your home with dangerous fumes should the gas leak or be left on. If a can of gel fuel is left open unlit it will just evaporate harmlessly over time.
I hope that you found this information helpful.