Bio gel fires and gel burners are a relatively cheap to buy, easy to use and a quick way to introduce a decorative flame to a property. However there are also a number of gel fire safety issues that need to also be considered.
First, read the manufacturers instructions that were supplied with the gel fire burner. If you do not have this document then it is best to contact the manufacturer and ask for a copy before using the gel fire.
Bio Gel Fire Safety : Are Gel Burners Safe?
Overall gel fires are considered to be decorative, especially the small gel burners that use cans or a small burner tray for the fuel. As with any product that has a live flame, safety needs to be observed. Gel burners have a live flame, give off heat and are fueled by a flammable liquid. This means that great care needs to be observed for handling and storing gel fuel, using a gel fire and protection from the flame. Below we have covered some of these issues.
Storing Gel Fuel
Bio-gel fuel is highly flammable and is normally supplied in small cans, see image, or 1 litre bottles. Buying gel fuel in bulk can have savings over small quantities but additional safety issues need to be considered including where it will be stored safely.
It is my opinion that it should be stored in a fireproof container, preferably outdoors in a secure store room like a locked garage or shed. Only the amount of gel fuel that is required to use the fire at that time should be brought inside and afterwards any unused fuel returned to the store. The manufacturer should also give you extra safety observations on handling and storing the fuel.
Using Gel Fuel
Regardless of if you buy gel fuel bottles or buy gel fuel cans great care needs to be observed when filling, lighting and extinguishing the gel burner. The manufacturer should say in the user manual how to do this safely.
Bioethanol and gel fuel are not the same, if you do not know this already take a look at our difference between bioethanol and gel fuel page, is a liquid.
The use of the cans or bottles have different safety considerations, and again, the manufacturers user manual will tell you how to use the fire. Above all ensure there are no spillages before lighting the gel fire. Make sure all spillages have been cleaned up, stand back from the fire at a safe distance and use a long lighter or long match to light the fuel.
Once the gel fire is alight it will start to generate heat and will have a live flame. To extinguish the flame follow the manufacturer guidance as it will probably involve a sliding lid, a plate and some form of handle. The flame is killed by lack of oxygen, unless you have a remote control bioethanol fireplace where an electric pump will stop feeding fuel.
Gel Fire Flame Protection
Ensure that all combustible materials are at a safe distance from the fire – for example curtains, carpets or cushions. The gel fire may include a glass screen to protect the flame from drafts and from touching the flame. When buying check to see if your chosen model includes some form of flame protection as you may need it. The model shown in the image is a bowl, and has no glass protection.
Gel Fire Ventilation
In my opinion gel fires should be used indoors, they are best used outside in a well ventilated area. However, if you choose to use a gel fire indoors make sure the room has sufficient ventilation. Ventilation can be provided by a permanent air vent or by opening a window. Read our guide to gel fire ventilation
Buying a Gel Fire
Take care over the size of burner and volume of fuel you will use. Consider how long you intent to use the gel fire for, how much heat you require, where it will be used, any installation requirements and of course gel fire safety before choosing a gel burner. For some extra pointers, read our guide to choosing a gel fire.