ACT: Ban on Portable Ethanol Burners

Published: 
22 Dec 2016

An interim ban on the sale of ethanol burners was imposed on 22 December 2016.

Ethanol burners are small, portable, decorative alcohol-fuelled burners. They can be freestanding or designed to sit atop furniture, and do not require professional installation, connection to gas lines or ventilation.

As of 22 December, retailers are not permitted to sell decorative alcohol-fuelled burners in the Australian Capital Territory, unless they:

  • have a power output of more than 4.5 kW, or
  • require installation in a fixed position, or
  • are designed for warming food.

Retailers and suppliers must immediately stop selling portable ethanol burners and remove them from store shelves and online stores.

This interim ban has been imposed following a number of serious and life-threatening injuries caused by ethanol burners.

The interim ban allows the burners to undergo further assessment by Access Canberra, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and other consumer agencies nationally.

Banned ethanol burners cannot be resold privately.

Safety advice

If you own an ethanol burner now banned from sale, we strongly recommend you stop using it.

These burners are especially dangerous when they are being re-fuelled. When the fuel is low, the flame can appear blue or clear, making it difficult to see. Re-fuelling when a flame is present or the device is still warm can lead to an explosion.  There is also a risk of the burner being knocked over by children or pets and causing serious burns to people nearby as well as damage to property.

A safety video, Don't fuel the fire, shows how easily ethanol burners can go from decorative to dangerous.

If you do choose to continue using an ethanol burner, now banned from sale, it is vital you follow these 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.

Product category