Bio fires, such as ethanol fireplaces, have become ever more popular in recent years.
The cozy atmosphere with an open flame and a very effective heat output are just two of the main reasons why fireplaces fueled with bio ethanol have seen a large increase in sales.
For most fireplace owners, the fact that this type of fireplace burns so clean without any smoke or toxins is often the deciding factor.
However, while it is often quite obvious where you get your wood for a wood burning stove, it is not always clear where you can buy ethanol fuel, and can you just use any ethanol for your fireplace?
We find out where you can get bio ethanol fuel and what you need to look out for when buying this kind of fireplace fuel.
Where To Buy Bio Ethanol Fuel?
You will be able to buy bio ethanol fuel for your fireplace from different retail stores and online.
Typically, manufacturers will be able to give you advice on where to buy the ethanol that is suitable for your fireplace. Some manufacturers even sell ethanol themselves.
What Is Bio Ethanol Fuel?
Bio ethanol is a clear liquid that has been extracted as a side product from farming crops, such as maize or sugar cane.
It does contain a large amount of alcohol and depending on the manufacturing process, bio ethanol can be made for different applications.
For example, pure bio ethanol with 100% alcohol content is sometimes blended with gasoline to run cars.
You will also find bio ethanol in your normal rubbing alcohol. This ethanol usually has an alcohol content of up to 93%.
Bio-ethanol burns very clean, and it does not produce any smoke or harmful gasses.
Sometimes this so called bio-fuel is also confused with gel fuel. However, they are not the same. Gel fuel is a mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol.
Some fire experts compare the CO2 emissions output of bio ethanol to the same as that of a burning candle but bio ethanol puts out a lot more heat.
While it is generally considered to be environmentally friendly, bio ethanol also has its critics, who say that the crops for this fuel divert any land use away from food production.
Benefits Of Heating With Bio Ethanol
The biggest benefit of heating your home with bio ethanol is that it does not require a flue or chimney to be installed in the house.
This is a big advantage because one of the major fire causes related to fireplaces are chimney fires.
Another benefit of bio ethanol is that it does not pollute the air when burning. This is particularly good for anyone suffering from allergies and other health problems.
Bio ethanol is easy to light in a suitable fireplace, and it also is much easier to maintain.
As this fuel does not produce any ashes, you don’t need to perform any regular clean ups after use.
The ethanol is stored in a small box in your fireplace, you can simply fill it up yourself at anytime.
Depending on the efficiency of your fireplace and the size of the ethanol cassette, 1.5L of bio fuel can last up to six hours.
Disadvantages Of Heating With Bio Ethanol Fuel
Just like other conventional heating fuels, bio ethanol also has its drawbacks.
One of the biggest disadvantages of heating with ethanol is that it does not put out as much heat as some other traditional fuels.
Bio-ethanol fireplaces are better suited for smaller homes that are very well insulted.
These homes can be heated with an ethanol fireplace but older homes that aren’t so well insulated will require an additional heat source.
Another drawback of ethanol is that it isn’t cheap, especially if you want to use your fireplace regularly.
While wood fuel often has a nice woody odor, bio ethanol typically has a certain alcoholic odor which may not be easy to handle.
This is particularly true if you spill any ethanol. This fuel is highly flammable, so you will need to clean it up immediately.
Although ethanol fireplaces are easy to start, they can take up to twenty minutes to show a full flame and emit a significant amount of heat.
Which Bio Ethanol Is Right For Your Bio Ethanol Fireplace?
When you start looking for bio ethanol, you will quickly notice that there are hundreds of different brands and types of bio ethanol.
The best bio ethanol for a fireplace has an alcohol content between 95% and 100%. You will need to check what your bio ethanol fireplace needs first before buying any ethanol.
While most fireplaces require bio ethanol with an alcohol content above 95%, you will also find that bio ethanol fuel with a lower alcohol content of 85% may also work.
Why Should You Not Use A Bio Ethanol Fuel With 100% Alcohol?
Although it may appear that a 100% alcohol content in ethanol fuel would also produce a much greater heat, fire experts recommend not using this extremely strong spirit.
Why? The answer is simply that fireplaces aren’t built for the use of 100% alcohol ethanol.
If ethanol is made with 100%, it does indeed burn hotter, faster and more efficient with a larger flame but fireplaces are not designed to withstand the extreme pressure from this heat.
This means that although 100% pure ethanol may sound tempting, it is important to check the alcohol percentage of bio ethanol that your fireplace requires.
This can be found either in the product manual of your fireplace or you can also contact the manufacturer for more information.
You should be able to buy ethanol from a number of different retailers, online or your fireplace manufacturer.
Every bio ethanol fireplace requires ethanol fuel, and there is a large range of different bio ethanols available. However, not all are made for the use in fireplaces.
The majority of bio ethanol fireplaces require ethanol with an alcohol content between 95% and 97% but it is important to check what type of ethanol you need before filling your fireplace again.