QLD: Ethanol burner safety – Don't fuel the fire


The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) today released a new safety awareness film to educate Queenslanders about the dangers of ethanol burners.

Ethanol burners come in various shapes and sizes, can be portable or fixed and are primarily decorative in nature. The dangers are greatest with small, portable, liquid-ethanol burners.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said the film, Don't fuel the fire, graphically showed the risks posed by misusing the devices.

"Ethanol burners have caused serious burns injuries and property damage, so it's important that anyone who owns one or is considering purchasing one is aware of the risks," Mr Bauer said.

"The devices are refuelled via the same opening that emits the flame.

"When the fuel is low, the flame can appear blue or even clear, making it very hard to see.

"If the device is refuelled while still alight, or even when smouldering or hot, the consequences can be dire.

"Ethanol is a highly flammable substance that should always be used with extreme caution and stored safely.

"Don't think this can’t happen to you – it's very easy to think the flame has gone out on these products.

"I especially urge consumers who have pets or small children in the house to reconsider whether owning one these devices is really worth it."

When using an ethanol burner you should follow these safety tips:

  • 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 around.
  • Always maintain a safe distance of at least one metre from the burner while it is on.
  • Extinguish the flame when leaving the room or before going to sleep.
  • Make sure the flame is out and the burner 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 burner to reduce the amount of flammable material in one place.
  • 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.

Queensland's Chief Health Officer raised concerns about the devices after a spate of serious burn incidents in 2014. A safety investigation followed; one of the outcomes of which is Don’t fuel the fire.

The OFT wishes to acknowledge the assistance of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services in producing the safety awareness film.

For more information on ethanol burners and to view the film, go to www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.

The film is also available on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMp46b5drPM.

Contact details

General enquiries: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)

Media contact: 07 3247 5968 or 07 3247 5965

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