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susan B

We have a ventless gel fireplace, and love it!
Does anyone know if it is safe to cook things such as marshmallows and hotdogs, over the gel fuel?

david G

WOW. I have just spent 2 hours reading all of this! Talk about informative. I am in the market for a fireplace, and like to tinker, so will spend som time, outside, with many concocktions. My question is: I live in sunny south Florida. Yeah yeah, I know. I want the ambience, without the heat. Please dont suggest candles; is there such a thing?
It was 92 degrees out today, but I want a fire inside tonight!
( I grew up in the north)

Gene in Greensboro, NC

Buying denatured alcohol at the drugstore or wallmart and burning indoors can be dangerous to your health. Most denaturing agents (added so people will not drink the alcohol) are toxic to humans if consumed or burned. Therefore putting the toxins into the air you breath is not such a good idea. Be careful, be VERY CAREFUL. Know the chemicals you are burning and breathing.



One of the manufacturers of ethanol fireplaces, Blomus, recommends using denatured alcohol in their fireplaces. You can see their recommendation at: I'm surprised they would recommend it if it is unsafe.


It's fireplace season again! I burn iso alcohol pretty much all of the time now, unless we are having company-- then I break out the sunjel. It burns long, clean and bright - beautiful yellow flame! I've tested the fumes with a Monoxide detector and it didn't even show a reading! A lot of cook stoves for camping burn alcohol and you can use it inside a camper.

I burn in empty fuelgel cans. Fill them up to the top with the alcohol - it lights fast and burns long. No crackling noises, but that's fine w/me.


For you people who want the sound of a crackling fire AND a wood-burning scent, read on. I just purchased a WOODWICK candle in the Fireside scent. These candles have a wooden wick instead of the regular cotton wick, and when lit, they give off a continuous,(but not too loud) sound of wood crackling. You do have to keep the wick trimmed as per their instructions so that the wick doesn't "drown" in the wax, but that's about the only flaw I have found. They have lots of other scents as well, but I find the Fireside Woodwick candle to be the most woodsy aroma. Let me know what you think.


I'm considering one of the new "personal fireplaces." I think most of the manufacturers say to use the junior size gel cans, but I think I would substitute denatured alcohol.


Sterno is gel alcohol fuel, the 7 oz cans sell for about $60 for 72 cans and each 7 oz can burns for about 2 hours. Is Sunjel significantly different from plain old fashioned sterno?? I haven't yet purchased my gel insert (for my non-working real fireplace, can't afford to reline the dang thing and want to use it somehow in the meantime). My limited recollection of chem class tells me adding salt will make it crackle. I am sensitive to headaches so likely I'd use the sungel at least in the beginning, but if I can use simple, safe sterno (I would not mess with rubbing alcohol) by itself or to dilute the sunjel to stretch it out that would SEEM at least to be a viable option. I was surprised no one here has mentioned sterno in over 2 years of posting -- why not?? It has absolutely NO smell and is safe enough even for food prep, and unlike rubbing alcohol is MEANT to be burned, even comes in a handy can. Anyone tried this option?

David Watts

I bought my fireplace from qvc. The other main ingredient, besideds isopropyl alchol is calcium acetate. Its not realy commercially available. Burning pure or diluted alcohol in the empty cans is dagerous. If it spills the fire goes wherever the liquid can flow. The fireplaces are GREAT to look at, just don't figure on using them much for heat, ambiance only. Each can burns about three hours, you can use two to a fire, and suplement with candles.

David Watts

the other main ingredient is calcium acetate. Just burning alcohol in the empty cans is dangerous if it spills you'll never control it. For those who are considering buying one of the fireplaces, I have one and I think its great. I Burn three cans, makes a fire for about three hours. You can burn a can for an hour, take pliers and place the lid back on the can. This will put the fire out. Wait till the can cools and then reseal the lid (its just a small paint can). You can go back weeks later and burn the other two hours. don't buy one as a heat source, it really is too expensive. I burn three cans to a fire, but you can burn two cans and some candles (it all hides behind the fake logs.) Looks and feels like a real fire, except no muss no fuss.


for those of you who are amature chemist. Calcium Acetate?
for those who are wondering about the fireplaces. They are pretty expensive to use as a heat source.
They are however everything you could ask for in ambience. The fuel comes in pint metal paint cans. Each can burns 2 and half to three hours, yes they popan crackle just like a real wood fire. You can burn for a while, take a pair of pliers and place the can lid back on, putting the fire out. let it cool 20 minutes or so and pound the lid back resealing. You can reopen and finish the burn weeks later if you want. I own one and we love it.


I recently purchased a gel fuel fireplace. I too found the gel fuel to be very expensive. I found myself saving the fuel for special occasions rather than for just hanging out and watching television. My husband and I bought the 70% alcohol and mixed wax shavings in with it. It does not burn as long and the wax did pop and crack every once in a while. I did not find the mixture to be as nice as the actual fuel. I have a basement and need an additional heat source for winter. Of course when I use three cans of the fuel I get a nice warmth but three cans? So I am considering getting a ventless fireplace and using propane since my home is all electric. The gel fuel does not personally give us headaches but the alcohol mixture that we made put off a very strange odor and gave me a bit of nausea. So I would reccommend using the real gel fuel. I do sympathize with the pricing of it. It is really costly in my opinion. So if anyone finds a way to purchase it wholesale, please let me know! God Bless and have a nice day!


"""Sterno is gel alcohol fuel, the 7 oz cans sell for about $60 for 72 cans and each 7 oz can burns for about 2 hours.""" Comment from KJ above
72 cans for $60? Where do you get it at that price? That would be great!


ugg boots

Thanks for the information. The headaches people are getting worries me!

susan B has the sterno fuel, 72- 8 ounce cans for $48.60. I don't know if this is the same one "KJ" is talking about, but it says it lasts two hours.. let me know if someone gives it a try...


I too am considering a purchase of a gel fireplace, my other alternative was a gas ventless, but I've been reading horror stories about the potential danger on the web. We had a ventless gas at my last house and it was fine. I never thought anything about it. I think gel will be my choice for the basement this time. Sungel is the best?


Hi Guys!
I've had my Jensen for several months & I love it. At first I was skeptical but hey in a pinch I thought okay, let's get one. I only paid $200 w/free shipping for mine. If you sign up for e-mail alerts at the Jensen site they do really save some $$. As for the fuel, I agree, expensive. My alternative is to burn one can of Sungel, Crackling Flames or Granny's for the sound with the 2 other cans containing a mixture of 70% & 91% ISP. The reason for the mixture is that I find just using 70% too low, 91% the flame is too high. Right now I'm burning Crackling Flames which to me has a lower flame then Sungel. The mixture in the 2 side cans is 3/4 can w/ 70% 1/4 can w/ 91% ISP. ISP lights just like your gel fuel.


I've had my fireplace for a little over a year and I've been burning 70% isopropyl. It's great except it doesn't last long. After reading here I decided to try 91%, and after two tests I can say that it definitely burns longer. 16oz cans of 70% only last me about 90 minutes, but the same cans of 91% last over 2 hours, almost 2-1/2 hours.

So definitely I think 91% isopropyl is the way to go.


I live in an 1880's house with an original coal bin fireplace in my bedroom. I want to keep the coal bin look, and not have all of the heat go up the flue. I'm thinking about surrounding some gel cans with black ceranic briquettes, to obtain the effect I want. Any reasons why this will not work?


I haven`t tried it yet, but what about adding unflavored gelatin powder to alcohol. Maybe thats the key to getting it to jel. As far as the fumes and headache, i`m going to vent mine.


I live in Alaska and bought three gel fireplaces from some up here a few years ago who also sold me two cases of the Sunjel. They were going to be dealers but just disappeared. Now I can not get the gel for the fireplaces! When I called Sunjel they told me to not even open a can of the Sunjel that was over two years old because the smell would be horrid. I just found a Real Flame dealer that would ship me two cases but the shipping alone was over $100!!!! But, what good were my fireplaces without any fuel. That was yesterday!!! Today I found this forum and all the recipes. No one ships to here because it is classified as a "hazardous material" and has to go by barge.
My question is (and I will really be surprised if anyone knows the answer to this one) that if I have a friend who is going to drive to Alaska - and that means that they have to drive through Canada - it's the only way - will the Canadian government allow they to take it in the car through Canada?
Thanks for any advice.

Gary M

You could try ebay. You might find some sellers willing to ship sunjel to Alaska at a reasonable price.

Michelle Gardner

Has anyone tried the gel cartridges? Like I'm interested in hearing feedback from them. They are $49 for 8 cartridges that gives flame equal to 2-3 cans.


can candle wax use as a automobile alternate fuel


I have a sprinkler system in my townhouse and it doesn't bother it a bit. Also I recently read a report on line reguarding co and these fireplaces they barely registerd at all. They were rated safer then any of the in home fireplaces according to that report. I suffer from migraines and have never had a single headache using the sunjel fuel. I did notice a slight smell the first night we used it. My husband and I have wanted one of these for 3 years and finally took the plunge and we are so thrilled we did. On the nights that I don't want to burn the gel fuel, we place two jar candles behind the log and it works well. Not as pretty as the gel fuel, but a close second. One other note, we've found in our town home bedroom one can will add a small amount of heat to a room. It's a nice effect.

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