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What is Gel Fuel and How to Make it?

What is Gel Fuel and How to Make it?
A relatively new find, gel fuel is gaining popularity day by day. It is a safer option in comparison with conventional fuel options, because the chances of a fire spreading outside the designated area is very slim. Although the store-bought variety can be expensive, making this fuel at home can save you a lot of money.
Anuj Mudaliar
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2018
While preparing this fuel at home, make sure you take the same precautions as with any other highly flammable substance. The gel burns for a long time and produces a high amount of heat, so try avoiding burns at all times. Children should work under the supervision of an adult who can help as and when needed.
First, what is gel fuel? Gel fuel is a product that is relatively new in the market, and is already very popular for home use as well as in the catering business. Most hotels serving banquets use this fuel source to keep the food warm during events such as conferences, parties, etc. It can also be used at home in small stoves, heaters, or in fireplaces instead of wood. The product is an alcohol-based substance, that does not produce any toxic smoke or fumes on combustion, unlike wood or other liquid fuels. This makes it an excellent option for indoor fireplaces.

There are two processes of creating this fuel, and both of them are fairly easy. They do not require any special equipment. As long as you take basic fire safety measures, preparing and using gel fuel is a safe and economical source, and can be used for different purposes. Let's have a look at how to make gel fuel.
Gel Fuel Burner
Gel Fuel Burner
Method 1

Items Required
  • Soy wax, 6 ounces
  • 90% isopropyl alcohol, ½ cup
  • Pet food cans, 6
  • Wicks, 6
  1. Melt the soy wax in a saucepan.
  2. Now, gradually pour the isopropyl alcohol in the pan, while continuously stirring the mixture until well combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into the cans till they are 3 quarters full.
  4. Put the wicks in the center of the mixture, and push them till the ends reach the bottom of the cans.
  5. Finally, put the cans into a refrigerator, and leave them there till the gel sets. The gel fuel is now ready to use.
  6. Alternatively, you can store the entire mixture in a large container, so as to pour and use in places such as fireplaces.

Method 2

Items Required
  • Vinegar, ½ cup
  • Pure ethanol, 1 ounce
  • Chalk, ⅛ cup (powdered)
  • Strainer, 1
  • Glass jar, 1
  1. Add the chalk powder to the vinegar, and dissolve it as much as possible. This will normally take a few minutes.
  2. Use a fine strainer to filter out any excess chalk powder, and put the chalk vinegar mixture into a glass jar.
  3. Use a marker to mark the level of the liquid in the jar.
  4. Place the jar in sunlight till half of the liquid evaporates.
  5. Pour the ethanol on the chalk mixture, and leave the jar alone for sometime without stirring the mixture.
  6. The chemical reaction between the chalk solution and the ethanol will change the mixture into gel fuel. If any excess ethanol remains, drain and discard it. The gel fuel is now ready for usage.
Ventless Gel Fuel Fireplace
Ventless Gel Fuel Fireplace
One of the best features of gel fuel is that it does not emit any smelly or toxic fumes while burning. This means that if used in a fireplace, there is no need for vents to lead any smoke or exhaust out of the house. Nowadays, fireplaces that are built especially for using gel fuel are available in the market. These fireplaces can be seamlessly installed in any wall without the need of reconstruction. Portable versions are also available. Since each can of gel fuel can safely burn for approximately 3 hours, this is a very good alternative to a traditional fireplace. If used properly, the fireplace does not require any supervision either.
Fire Safety and Precautions
  • Always be careful while handling this gel, as it burns just as much as any other flammable substance.
  • Store the fuel in a cool and dry place, away from sunlight or any potential source of fire.
  • Label the fuel cans or jars properly, and keep them out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Keep the fuel away from sources of moisture, to make it last longer.
  • When lighting the fuel, make sure that you don't get any of it on yourself or on the sides of the can.
Using gel fuel is a clean, easy, and safer alternative to traditional fire fuels, and the fireplaces allow you to move them from one place in your house to another. So, getting this fireplace and using this cheap and easy-to-make fuel will definitely be a welcome addition to your home.