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Ethanol burners

Ethanol burners come in all shapes and sizes, and can be portable or fixed.

The dangers are greatest with small, portable, ethanol–fuelled burners, which if used incorrectly can cause serious burns injuries and property damage.

The devices are primarily for decorative use and come in a variety of styles, including freestanding and models intended to sit on top of furniture.

They are advertised as smokeless, eco-friendly products that do not require professional installation, connection to gas lines or ventilation.

Some models have an open flame which can be difficult to see, particularly in daylight, and this creates a risk that someone may think the flame is extinguished and try to refuel or move the device while the flame is still lit.

If re-fuelling is attempted when the device is still lit, or even if it is smouldering or hot, the device and re-fuelling bottle can catch on fire and explode.

Ethanol burners have caused a number of serious burns injuries as well as property damage.

Don't fuel the fire

A safety video, Don’t fuel the fire, highlights the risks posed by ethanol burners.

Safety tips

Setting up the burner

  • Strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use before setting up and lighting the burner. Keep the instructions in a safe place and within reach.
  • Put the burner on a solid and level surface where it will not be accidentally kicked or bumped.
  • Keep the flame away from combustible materials such as clothes or curtains.
  • Make sure the burner is away from drafts or breeze from open windows and doors or fans.
  • Have an appropriate fire extinguisher nearby

Using the burner safely

  • Never light a burner that has not been fully assembled.
  • Always use the fuel recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Use a kitchen lighter or long barbecue match to light the burner.
  • Never leave the product unattended while in use, especially if there are children or pets around.
  • Always maintain a safe distance of at least one metre from the burner while it is on.
  • Extinguish the fire when leaving a room or before going to sleep.
  • Make sure the flame is out and the fireplace has had plenty of time to cool before attempting to move or refuel it.
  • Use a funnel when refilling to prevent spills. If a spill occurs before lighting, wipe it up immediately with paper towel, wash the area with water and wash your hands. Don’t use the burner until all fumes and traces of fuel have left the room.
  • Store fuel in a separate room to the fireplace.
  • Never throw anything combustible into the fireplace.
  • Never use the product for cooking.
  • In the case of a fire, use a powder extinguisher or fire blanket to smother the fire. Never use water on an ethanol fire. Water could spread the fire.

Some models have an open flame which can be difficult to see, particularly in daylight, and this creates a risk that someone may think the flame is extinguished and try to refuel or move the device while the flame is still lit.

Safety information for suppliers

We have developed a guide to help you understand the hazards associated with ethanol burners.

Download the supplier guide.

Product safety notice

A product safety notice can be issued by a Minister with responsibility for product safety. It is a formal mechanism to warn consumers about a product that may cause injury and/or is under investigation.

A safety warning notice was issued about ethanol burners on 10 July 2014. The outcome was published on 26 November 2014.

Report it

Do you have information about an unsafe product? Report it to us.

Fill in an unsafe product complaint form

Last updated
19 April 2016

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