Bio Ethanol Fuel and Gel Fuel, The Differences

There are a number of differences that you need to consider when you decide to buy bioethanol fuel or buy gel fuel and these need to be considered alongside what type of bioethanol burner tray or gel burner you have purchased. The initial step is to decide on what type of fireplace you are looking for. If it is something very small and decorative like a tabletop fireplace then it is most likely you will choose a gel burner product. If you are wanting a fully functioning fireplace product you will most likely be buying a bioethanol fire. There is no real difference between the fuel, they are both alcohol based, made from sustainable sources and clean burning however there are big difference in how you will use the fuel and where is best to use it.

Bio Ethanol Fuel and Gel Fuel, the Differences

As stated above both fuel sources are alcohol based. The differences between bio ethanol fuel and gel fuel can also include properties like the viscosity, the colour, smell, how it is to be used, how it burns, where it should be used, inside or outside and also the emissions that can be generated from the fuel.

Bio-ethanol v Gel Fuel – Viscosity

The first difference you will notice between these different types of bio fuels is the viscosity of the product. The viscosity is an indication of how easy it is to pour the fuel. Bio-ethanol Fuel is very much a liquid which means it is easy to pour, and unless great care is taken, it is also very easy to spill. Gel fire fuel is a thick liquid, similar to a syrup, so it is difficult to pour unless you squeeze the bottle, which also means it does not spill easily. Gel fuel is often supplied in gel fuel cans that mean that pouring out the fuel is not an issue. You use the can then dispose of it when the fuel is exhausted.

Bio-ethanol v Gel Fuel – Colour

Gel Fuel for Fireplaces
A typical 1L Gel Fuel Bottle. The gel fuel is thicker and generally coloured yellow however there are also green and blue versions.

Bio-ethanol fireplace fuel tends to be sold as a clear liquid, basically it looks like water. Gel fuel is typically sold with some sort of coloring. You will notice that gel fuel can be yellow, green or even blue. The fuel is the same this colouring does not affect how it performs.

Bio-ethanol v Gel Fuel – Smell

All Bio Fireplace Fuels, either the bio ethanol version or gel fuel version have a smell. It is generally not noticeable, some people even like the smell however in some environments the smell may be noticed more by some people than others.

Bio-ethanol v Gel Fuel – Burning Quality

Bio Fires - Crystal Bio Ethanol Fuel - 3 X 1L Bottles
A typical 1L Bio Ethanol fuel bottle. The bio ethanol fuel is a clear liquid and very easy to pour, like water.

Both fuels burn relatively clean when compared to carbon based fuels (Gas, Coal, Wood etc) however it has been noticed that when gel fuel is burnt, it will burn cleanly, until it reaches the point at which it is starting to run out. The gel fuel, during burning, can creates a residue, or scum, on top of the fuel. Once the fuel starts to run out, the scum starts to line the sides and bottom of the burner, once the flame reaches this residue it can start to generate smoke. This can be quite strong and can be harmful if inhaled. For this reason generally gel fuel should be used in smaller burners or inside the small fuel cans it is bought. Personally, I will not use a gel fuel indoors, I only use bio-ethanol fuel indoors in my bio ethanol burner.

Type of Bio Ethanol or Gel Burner

If you use the wrong type of fuel in your bio-burner you can damage the burner. To avoid this ensure you read the manufactures instructions for the fireplace before using it. Bio-ethanol fuel can be used in a wide range of bio burners including remote control bio-ethanol fireplaces.

Gel fuel tends to be used in smaller cans, burners and outdoors. Sometimes bioethanol burners can include ceramic foam sponge which reduces the fuel usage. Gel fuel should not be used in a bio ethanol burner that has the ceramic wool sponge due to the reasons given above. Read the guide to adding ceramic sponge to bioethanol burner trays


Overall bioethanol fuel is the best option however the down side is that it is a highly flammable liquid which is  and easy to spill. As it is a clear liquid these spillages may not be noticeable before lighting the fire. Therefore great care must be take on the filling of the burner and cleaning up and spillages before lighting. Gel fuel as it is thicker is much less likely to be spilt but it is still flammable so any spillages must also be cleaned before lighting. Overall my advice is use bio-ethanol fuel indoors and use gel fuel outside as then the problem with residue and smoke will not be noticed.

Buy Bioethanol Fuel Bottles and Gel Fuel Cans

Listed below are some example of bioethanol and gel fuel suppliers that are available to buy online from different suppliers. Click on the link to be taken to a page where you can read the technical specification and place your order.

Bio Fires - Crystal Bio Ethanol Fuel - 3 X 1L Bottles
in stock
as of 27/01/2021 02:39
BIOETHANOL SUPERIOR 'BIOLA' FUEL 6 Liters UK and IRELAND. For use in fires and stoves. Premium Grade Bioethanol Fuel
in stock
4 new from £29.95
as of 27/01/2021 02:39
12L BIOETHANOL 'BIOLA' SUPERIOR FUEL UK and IRELAND. For use in fires and stoves.
in stock
2 new from £38.00
as of 27/01/2021 02:39
in stock
2 new from £38.00
as of 27/01/2021 02:39

Suppliers of Bio-Ethanol Fireplace

We have selected some of the best bioethanol fireplace designers, manufacturers and suppliers from across Europe and listed these on our bioethanol suppliers page in the top menu. We have also selected an example of ten bioethanol fireplace brands below. Click on a link to find the most suitable for you. If you are looking for expensive and high specification check out Planika bioethanol fires, if you a want a well made and reasonably priced bioethanol product check out Kratki bioethanol fires. All the others are listed below. Check out as many as you can.

A selection of Bio Ethanol Technical Pages

We have written some more technical help guides regarding bioethanol and gel fires, these are shown below.

Examples of Different Styles of Bio Ethanol Fireplace

There are many different styles and designs of bioethanol fireplace and gel fire burner depending on how they will be used and installed. Here are some examples.