Bioethanol fireplaces use a real fire to deliver the flames, heat and overall real fireplace experience.
There can therefore be a number of safety considerations and requirements when using a bioethanol fireplace inside a home to help ensure the safest burning of the bioethanol fuel.
The main safety considerations for bioethanol fireplaces include keeping the fireplace a safe distance away from combustible objects, only using appropriate bioethanol fuel, and never adding more fuel to a fire during or after use.
We must follow a range of safety guidelines for our own bioethanol fireplace.
As our fireplace is the insert type, we’re required to place it inside an existing open fireplace, which automatically helps keep the fireplace a sufficient distance away from flammable objects.
Our bioethanol fireplace is open on the top and sides however, and so we also need to consider protection against drafts that may fan the flames outside of the fireplace.
We cover in more detail below all the typical safety considerations and requirements that you could expect when using a bioethanol fireplace, and cover all the safety guidelines that we need to meet with our own fireplace.
Are Bioethanol Fireplaces Safe?
Bioethanol fireplaces can be considered to be one of the safer forms of fireplace. Although bioethanol fireplaces use a real fire for the flames and heat, bioethanol fuel is clean burning and so no harmful by-products are produced that would otherwise need to be vented from a home through a chimney or flue.
Bioethanol fireplaces can only burn bioethanol fuel.
Bioethanol fuel is stated to be clean burning, meaning that the fuel combusts well within a fire and minimal by-products are produced.
This can be thanks to the typical high quality of bioethanol fuel. We personally use 96.6% alcohol content bioethanol fuel for the optimum burn.
Thanks to good combustion offered by bioethanol fuel, bioethanol fireplaces don’t typically release any by-products from a fire other than carbon dioxide and water vapor.
For example, our fireplace manufacturer explains:
‘Bioethanol combustion uses oxygen from the air inside the room and releases carbon dioxide (non-toxic) and water vapors’.Imagin Fires
This means that bioethanol fireplaces typically don’t require the need for any form of chimney or flue.
Fresh air ventilation for a bioethanol fireplace may still need to be considered however as oxygen is used and replaced with carbon dioxide over time. Leaving a wall vent or window slightly open can be sufficient to offset this.
This high-quality combustion of bioethanol fuel can be compared to burning other types of fireplace fuel, such as firewood, where if the quality of the firewood is poor (i.e. high in moisture content), the fuel can burn very poorly within a fire, leading to incomplete combustion of the fuel and increase by-products being released.
Furthermore, bioethanol fireplaces typically only have a steady and small sized flame on offer and only burn through the bioethanol fuel at a certain rate.
Depending on the type of bioethanol fireplace (manual or automatic), the fuel may be held within the fuel box where the fire is located, or fed to the fire as needed from a separate fuel tank.
In our manual type of bioethanol fireplace, fuel is absorbed within the ceramic material inside the fuel box, as shown below, and this fuel is fed to the fire at a consistent rate without the worry of large flames developing due to too much fuel.
Although bioethanol fireplaces still use a real fire, their clean combustion and stable flame could make them a safer option than for example an open wood burning fire, and while ours is an open type, many other models of bioethanol fireplace can contain the fire behind closed doors.
Bioethanol Fireplace Safety Considerations & Requirements
As bioethanol fireplaces use a real fire and are primarily intended for use indoors, there can be a number of safety guidelines that you will need to follow or consider for both placement of a bioethanol fireplace and use.
These safety guidelines will be outlined in the owner’s manual that’s typically provided alongside every model of bioethanol fireplace. If not provided in paper form, you may need to find an electronic version from the manufacturer’s website.
The main safety considerations for bioethanol fireplaces can include:
- Never adding more bioethanol fuel to a bioethanol fireplace fire and always allowing the fireplace to sufficiently cool down before adding any more fuel.
- Only using bioethanol fuel that’s in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines, such as a specific quality (in the form of alcohol content percentage), and form (such as liquid or gel).
- Correct placement in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines, such as meeting clearance distance requirements to nearby combustible objects, or any other requirement such as placement within a chimney breast or open fireplace.
- Using the fireplace in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines for refuelling, lighting, managing fires and extinguishing the flames.
- Consideration for any requirements on minimum room size or allowing for sufficient fresh air ventilation into the room.
- Not touching the fireplace or fire during operation and only using accompanying equipment such as a closing tool.
As an example, the images below show the main safety consideration from the owner’s manual for our own bioethanol fireplace.
The main safety requirement for bioethanol fireplaces can be to never add more fuel to a fireplace during operation or when it’s hot.
We’re clearly made aware of this safety issue within the owner’s manual, on the safety briefing sheet, on the fuel bottles, and on the fireplace itself.
Our owner’s manual explains:
‘NEVER pour any fuel on top of a flame. Always allow the existing flame to be extinguished fully and the steel burner box to be at room temperature (allow around 30 minutes) before adding any more fuel.’Imagin Fires
To refuel a bioethanol fireplace, you’ll therefore need to wait for the fire to go out (or extinguish it yourself) and allow sufficient time for the fireplace to cool down in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
When using a bioethanol fireplace, you will need to account for some down time between fires for safe refuelling. See our article on how long a bioethanol fireplace burns for more information.
It’s important that only the right type and quality of fuel is used.
Bioethanol fuel can come in liquid or gel form and manufactured with a certain alcohol percentage.
For example, we’re required to only use liquid bioethanol fuel that’s between 95% and 97.7% alcohol content. We therefore typically use 96.6% liquid fuel.
See our article on bioethanol fireplace fuel for more information.
Correct placement of a bioethanol fireplace is also important.
We have a bioethanol fireplace insert and must be used inside an existing fireplace because it’s open on the top and sides.
Finally, a bioethanol fireplace must be used correctly, such as when:
- Managing fires
For example, for increased safety we must:
- Light our bioethanol at arm’s length using a lighter or extended match.
- Only using the accompanying closing tool to extinguish a fire by shutting the lid to the fuel box.
See our main article on how to use a bioethanol fireplace for more information.
In summary, always be sure to follow all manufacturer guidelines for your particular model of bioethanol fireplace for the safest possible fires and most enjoyable fireplace experience.