QLD: Ethanol-fuelled burners pose consumer danger


The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is reminding Queenslanders about the dangers of ethanol-fuelled burners following another serious burn incident.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said consumers needed to be aware of the risks associated with using ethanol burners, especially when refuelling them.

"Ethanol burners are small, portable fireplaces, primarily decorative in nature rather than for heating," Mr Bauer said.

"The products don't usually require professional installation because they have no gas line connection or attached tank.

"They come in a variety of styles, including freestanding and table top models."

The most recent incident involved an Adelaide man who was left with serious facial burns after the fuel caught on fire and the burner exploded during refuelling.

This follows four reported serious burn incidents in Queensland last year.

"Ethanol, which is basically methylated spirits, is highly flammable and should be used with extreme caution," Mr Bauer said.

"Most burn incidents occur during the refuelling process.

"When fully fuelled, the flame is a bright orange, but when the fuel supply is lower, the flame can change to a light blue colour or even appear almost clear.

"Because the flame is difficult to see, the burner can look like the flame has gone out.

"If the ethanol burner is refuelled while lit or still hot the fuel, including the fuel in the refuelling bottle, may explode."

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 meter 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.
  • 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.

A product safety notice was issued in July 2014 to warn consumers about the dangers of ethanol burners.

The OFT has developed a guide for suppliers of freestanding and table top ethanol burners. The guide is available to download from www.qld.gov.au/fairtading.

For more information on ethanol burners, visit the OFT website at www.qld.gov.au/fairtading or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Contact details

Media contact: 07 3247 5968 or 07 3247 5965

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