Tabletop Fireplaces: What is the Difference between Bioethanol Liquid Fuel and Gel Fuel?

When shopping for a tabletop fireplace, you need to learn about the different ways such fireplaces are fueled. Most tabletop fireplaces use either bioethanol liquid fuel or alcohol gel fuel. I created an organized presentation of the differences between the two types of fuels.

Two important considerations to note:

  • Fueling methods for devices are not interchangeable. Tabletop fireplaces are designed specifically to utilize only one type of fuel. The owner’s manual will specify which fuel to use.
  • These fuels create REAL flames, just like those created by wood burning. Therefore, fuels and flames should be kept away from pets and children.

Bioethanol vs Gel Fuel Fireplaces

 Bioethanol Liquid FuelGel Fuel
MaterialBioethanol is a green fuel derived directly from plants. It is composed of a minimum of 96% pure ethanol, an absolute alcohol, produced by the fermentation of sugars originating in crops such as corn, sugarcane, sweet, sorghum, or wheat.Also considered a green fuel, gel fuel is made from pure isopropyl alcohol, water, salt, and thickness.
ByproductsWater Vapor and carbon dioxide. Does not produce any soot or ash. Water vapor and carbon dioxide. Does not produce any soot or ash. May leave a bit of residue when burned.
Fire TypeA fire from bioethanol liquid fuel burns more powerfully than one produced from gel fuel. It produces an orange yellow flame, with lots of motion. Has smaller, sturdier flames than those from liquid fuel. Produces a yellow flame, that is thicker, less "dancing" than the flame created by a liquid fuel. Thus, the flame created by gel fuel is typically more wind resistant.
HeatNot a primary heat source. Creates subtle warmth.Not a primary heat source. Creates subtle warmth.
SoundSoundlessThe salt adds the crackling sound that simulates a true wood fire.
Time Period of FireA quart of liquid will produce a fire that lasts about 5 hours, depending on the size of the burning pot. The fire requires from 5-15 minutes to warm up.A 13 oz. can will provide about 2.5 hours of fire. Once lit, the flame is instant, requiring no warm-up time.
Start-UpThe liquid is poured into a fuel reservoir. (See owner's manual on each specific device to see where it is located.) Any spillage should be cleaned, and the entire bottle should be removed from the area, before lighting. Fire is lit with a long match or lighter wand.Alcohol gel comes in a canister. The whole canister usually goes in a specific area of the fireplace that is designated to hold it. The canister must be shaken to mix isopropyl alcohol and thickeners. It is lit with a long wand lighter.
RelightingWait 45 minutes before relighting. It is dangerous to relight liquid fuel when it is still hot.Wait 45 minutes before relighting. It is dangerous to relight gel fuel when it is still hot.
Flame ControlFireplaces that use liquid fuel have a lid to the fuel tray. The larger the opening of the lid, the more oxygen mixes with the flame, to create a larger flame.Flame size cannot be regulated. It is either on or off.
ExtinguishingClose the fuel tray lid to eliminate the supply of oxygen and, thus, extinguish the flame. Careful, the area remains hot.Place the lid on the gel fuel canister or use a gel fuel sniffer to extinguish. Careful, the area remains hot for a while.

View an image version of this table to download or embed here.

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Tabletop Fireplaces – A Modern Way to Enjoy Age-Old Fire

Throughout the ages, fire has fed mankind’s bodies and souls. Warming and soothing, a fire inspires contemplation, beckons gathering and conversation, and even lulls us into contented slumber. Artists and poets have tried to capture the essence of this vital force in their works. Take for example this alluring poem entitled The Fireplace by Edwina Reizer.

Today, people have lots of options as to how they enjoy their fire. They may choose to own a large, built-in fireplace or a smaller, movable fireplace. Their fireplace can be the traditional wood-burning type, or electric or ethanol powered. A modern option is the tabletop fireplace.

Think of it as somewhere between a traditional fireplace and a large candle. It’s less voluminous than a fireplace, easily moved, and produces none of the soot and ash. It’s warmer than a mere candle. Plus, many of these tabletop fireplaces are designed with such artistry, they serve as beautiful décor in their own right, even without the dancing flames ignited.

Lampada Ethanol Tabletop Fireplace

The Lampada Ethanol Tabletop Fireplace

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Pearl Mantels: Dedicated to Home and Hearth

For humankind throughout the ages, a fireplace and mantel have evoked a sense of warmth, stability, safety… home. It is, and should be, the centerpiece of a room. As important as the raw, organic flame, the mantel that surrounds it should be beautiful.

Pearl Mantels has but one passion, creating mantels that are the perfect complement to provocative, glittering flames. In fact, the company has dedicated itself to the art of fireplace mantel design for over 20 years. Their artisans and craftsmen, like the ones of yore, lovingly hand cut and polish each mantel. Overseen by the master artist herself, Mother Nature, the mantels often retain the rudimental features only she can imbue. Her exquisite and sensual touches to wood make each mantel a one-of-kind piece of art.

Many of Pearl’s mantels are made from live edge wood. Live edge wood furniture is created by retaining the original lines of the tree trunk, including edges, knots, gnarls and holes. This technique elicits the innate glory of the tree. The master of this technique was woodworker and architect George Nakashima, who believed that furniture could evince “the soul of a tree.” (See his 1981 memoir: The Soul of a Tree: A Master Woodworker’s Reflections

The Soul of a Tree by George Nakashima

George Nakashima’s book “The Soul of a Tree: A Master Woodworker’s Reflections”

Featured below are some of Pearl Mantels original mantel designs:
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Guide to Ethanol Fireplaces

Ethanol fireplaces are fireplaces that burn using bio ethanol fuel, a renewable fuel source that’s only by-products are heat, carbon dioxide, and steam, making it an eco-friendly alternative to traditional fireplaces. Bio ethanol, or gel fireplaces as they’re sometimes referred to as, give off of the warmth of an authentic flame while eliminating the emissions released into the air by traditional gas or wood burning fireplaces.

23.5

23.5″ Ignis Tectum Mini Freestanding Ventless Ethanol Fireplace

Bio ethanol only gives off carbon dioxide, similar to burning candles indoors, so they don’t require a flu or chimney in most cases. As with any other source of flame like candles or wood fires, it is not recommended to burn ethanol flames indoors in non-ventilated rooms for extended periods of time because of the carbon dioxide. Aside from this, bio ethanol fireplaces are completely safe to be used indoors or outdoors.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for an ethanol fireplace.
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History of the Electric Fireplace

The history of electric fireplaces is more interesting, and perhaps a bit longer than some might think at first. From its belittling introduction to the majestic marble mantle-clad wonders of today, knowing this history will make you unable to look at your electric fireplace the same way again.

Humble Origins Among the Stars

Traversing the ages, fire has been a common theme in man’s journey and advancement, especially in technological improvements. While the electric fireplace sits relatively late in the table of harnessing fire, it can claim to be an important innovation, rightly deserving to be made a part of the modern home. But for the first electric fires in 1912, the play was their restriction.

First Electric Fireplaces in Theater Productions

Electric fires were first used in theatre productions like this one – By Central Litho. & Eng. Co. (signed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID var.1527.; image is a reproduction, also in the public domain.

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Calculating BTU’s Per Square Foot

The British Thermal Unit, or BTU, is the Imperial system’s basic unit of heat. One BTU is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. When you’re able to determine how many BTUs per square foot of space a room requires, you’ll can pick a heating device with the right heating capacity for your home.

Close up of calculator

Photography by Jan Kaláb

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Do electric fireplaces really work?

Staying warm can be done efficiently, affordably, and aesthetically through the use of an electric fireplace. It’s commonly and incorrectly assumed that electric fireplaces can’t produce any heat; however, many models can produce anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 British Thermal Units (BTU’s) of heat. This may not be enough to warm your entire home, but it is certainly enough heat to warm up a small apartment or an entire home living room.

Dimplex Prism Wall Mount Electric Fireplace

The best-selling electric linear fireplace just got better with the all new Prism Series. View the all new Dimplex Prism Wall Mount Electric Fireplace with 4,198 BTUs.

What is an Electric Fireplace?

An electric fireplace is a heater that uses electricity to work, rather than a traditional fireplace that burns coal, wood, or natural gas. The electric fireplace is present in many modern homes, as it is better for the environment while also just as effective and aesthetic as the traditional counterpart.
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Do Patio Heaters Really Work?

Whether you want to grill year-round or you cherish your daily cup of tea on the deck, a good patio heater can be the deciding factor between a Siberian climate and serene. But, you’re skeptical. “Do patio heaters really work?” We’re here to tell you that they do. How they work, however, depends on the different types and sizes available to you.

Patio Heater Close Up

Photography by Alan Wu

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The Optiflame® Fire by Dimplex

Patented electric flame technology is at our fingertips in the Dimplex Optiflame® fire effect. This world-renowned electric flame can be seen in many Dimplex products, including the latest electric inserts and wall fireplaces.

Electric fireplaces were brought to life by Dimplex, when the Optiflame® was incorporated into the very first fireplaces on the market. Since then, the company has been consistently made the effect even more realistic year after year.

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How Electric Fireplaces Work

Whether you’re the current or soon-to-be owner of an electric fireplace, you’ve probably asked yourself, “how do electric fireplaces work.” It doesn’t take a physicist or electrical engineer to know this marvel, so let the experts at PortableFireplace.com teach you how electric fireplaces and electric inserts work.

Classic Flame Cannes Espresso Electric Fireplace TV Stand 23MM378-E451

Classic Flame Cannes Espresso Electric Fireplace TV Stand – $663.99 with Free Shipping

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