a can of gel fuel burning with a gel fireplace in the background

Gel Fireplace

Originally contributed by • last updated 2/22/2021

Southern Enterprises

For many people, the dream of having a nice warm fireplace to come home to might not seem like a realistic option. In many cases, the installation costs and safety requirements are too prohibitive to make it worthwhile.  However, with the invention of the gel fireplace, there is now a reliable and affordable alternative that could make the dream of having a real fireplace a reality.


The term gel fireplace (or gel fuel fireplace) refers to a type of ventless fireplace that typically burns an isopropyl alcohol mixture. The mixture comes in the form of a gel, which is contained in a single-use can. Gel fuel fireplace appliances come in a variety of sizes and shapes for both indoor and outdoor uses. These gel based units are convenient because they require no chimney, no gas hookup, or electricity, allowing them to be installed or used in just about any location. Gel fireplaces are quite safe when used properly and typically cost less than other fireplace options. However, they are mostly decorative and provide less heat than wood, gas, and electricity.

What Are Some Things You Should Know Before Buying A Gel Fireplace?

Installing a real wood burning fireplace, or even a gas or electric equivalent, may not be a suitable option for everyone, especially those on a tight budget or with limited space. In certain situations, a gel fireplace can be a great alternative to the real thing, providing many of the same design features without all the costs. However, there are some things to consider before running out and purchasing one:

  • One of the biggest advantages is that gel fuel fireplaces are truly ventless. This makes installation simple and convenient, requiring less holes to be drilled between the interior and exterior of your home. It also means, you can place them pretty much anywhere your heart desires, including both indoors and outdoors.
  • One big disadvantage is that gel fuel cans only last about 3 hours and can cost between $3 and $5 each. This means it could get costly if you wanted to use a gel fireplace to heat a room for an extended period of time. That being said, gel fueled appliances are meant to be more decorative than functional heating units.