Ethanol fires

There’s something about having a fire in the house (a planned one of course) that is immensely comforting. All our homes in New Zealand had a working fire and in some of them it was our only source of heating. Our home in Aberdeen had two gas fires which we’ve never used and I’ve missed having a fire.

Gas fires don’t produce much heat, are expensive to run, and use a non-renewable resource. They were popular in the 1970s but now most people are having them removed. A few weeks ago we decided to disconnect the gas from our two fireplaces. We thought about putting in a log burner but that will cost several thousand pounds and we’d have to remove the beautiful iron fire insert which is pleasing to look at. Then I discovered you can get an ethanol burning box and plonk it in an old fireplace. It burns cleanly, is carbon neutral, runs on a renewable resource, and doesn’t even require a flue. Here’s our ethanol burner in action:


It produces a similar amount of heat to a gas fire and so in this regard it cannot replace central heating. However it’s a nice boost to the heating in winter and in summer it can be used on cooler nights when the central heating is off. Mostly it just creates a lovely atmosphere, soothes the soul, and makes me happy.

Our burning box is 1.3L and can be adjusted to lower the heat output. We had it running for over 3 hours last night and ended up turning it off by shutting the lid and cutting off the oxygen supply. You can buy ethanol online in 1L bottles for less than £3. If you buy in bulk it’s cheaper.

Here are a couple of places in the UK that sell them: