Gel Fireplaces vs. Bio Ethanol Fireplaces: What is the Difference?

If you are shopping for ventless fireplaces then there is a very good chance that you have found yourself torn between gel fuel fireplace and bio ethanol for modern or contemporary fireplaces choices . Many consumers think they are “basically” the same thing, so when they learn that they’re not, they feel confused and even overwhelmed trying to choose between the two to put fireplace for their business and home. One is not necessarily better than the other, but they are very different. Choosing the best one for your needs and lifestyle will ensure you get the most out of your fireplace.

Eco-Feu Montreal Wall Mounted Biofuel Fireplace

Fuel Source Comparison

Gel and bio ethanol fireplaces come in very similar styles, so always read the product information to make sure you select the right one. Bio ethanol varieties use ethanol fire fuel. This pourable liquid simply goes in a refill burner pan. Bio ethanol is created by fermenting sugars from sustainable crops, making it biodegradable, and therefore a very environmentally friendly option.

Gel is made using a mixture of pure isopropyl alcohol, salt, water, and thickening agents. The salt actually creates a crackling sound like a real fire. Gel comes in canisters that you set in a designated area of the fireplace. When empty, they are removed and disposed of.

Lighting and Extinguishing

Both types of ventless fireplaces give you virtually fuss-free fires. When using alcohol gel, you simply shake the canister, remove the label, place in the fireplace and light with a wand lighter. To extinguish, simply replace the gel fuel canister or use a gel fuel snuffer. Either method will cut off the oxygen supply to the fire. Some gel fireplaces come with a snuffer.

With a bio ethanol fireplace you will pour the liquid into the fuel burner, and use a wand lighter or long match to ignite the fuel. To extinguish, cover the fuel tray with the included fuel tray lid to eliminate the oxygen supply.

Comparing the Flames

The flame created by these two fuel sources are very different. Gel produces a rich yellow, slow-burning flame that crackles. It is the closest you can get to real fire without wood and smoke. BTUs range from 2,500 to 3,000 per hour, and a 30oz can will typically last 2.5 to 3 hours. You do not need to wait for this flame to heat up. It is at full intensity in about 30 seconds.

The flames that are produced by bio ethanol are orange, scattered, and playful. These flames can produce a substantial amount of heat with a BTU range between 4,000 and 8,500. In most cases, one quart of fuel will burn up to five hours, but this will vary depending on the burning pot size. Ethanol requires between 5 and 15 minutes to heat up to its full intensity.


In summary, gel fireplaces and bio ethanol fireplaces each offer unique advantages. While gel Fireplaces provide convenience and portability, bio ethanol fireplaces offer cleaner burning and more sustainable fuel options. Understanding these differences allows you to choose the fireplace that best suits your needs and preferences.

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