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Ethanol vs. Lovinflame Fuel: What’s the difference? (And why does it matter?)

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As the $7.5 billion global candle market can attest, humans are inexplicably drawn to the soft glow of a burning flame, despite potentially dangerous side effects. Besides the obvious risk of spreading fires, traditional wood-burning fireplaces also release a significant amount of air pollution — including fine particle pollution, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds — while trendy scented candles fill the air with dust and fungus.

Several years ago, ethanol fireplaces entered the scene, positioning themselves as a decorative flame product that can safely be burned indoors without installing a vent — a clean-burning alternative to wood-burning fireplaces and toxin-filled candles. Not too long after the new product set the decorative flame market ablaze, the negative consequences quickly became apparent.

One woman in the United Kingdom discovered the ugly underbelly of ethanol burners the hard way, when she brought her portable ethanol burner with her to the beach. She ignited the burner and kept it by her side, while she enjoyed her afternoon underneath the shade of an umbrella. As she did so, ethanol slowly began forming a flammable mixture with the air, which became trapped underneath the umbrella. This story tragically ends with the untimely death of the woman as the air surrounding her burst into flames.

Medical studies are reporting more and more bioethanol-caused accidents as the decorative flame products become increasingly popular. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of victims exhibit burns on the hands and face, indicative of accidents caused by flare-ups.

The Australian government has become so concerned with the introduction of bioethanol burners to the market that they issued an interim ban on certain decorative alcohol fueled devices from March 17, 2017 until May 15, 2017. After the ban expired, it was replaced with a new set of safety standards. Since that time, the Australian government has continued to issue warnings against ethanol burners, including this very alarming video that demonstrates how fast ethanol burners can go from decorative to dangerous.  

Luckily, our innovation in fire technology discovered a way to burn fire using a non-flammable fuel to make it as clean-burning and as it is mesmerizing — making it possible to enjoy decorative flames, while significantly reducing the risk of accidents.

How can a fuel be non-flammable?

Liquid fuels exist on a gradient between combustible and flammable fuels, classified as such according to each fuel’s respective flash point. A “flash point” is the point at which a fuel begins to form a flammable mixture with the air that will ignite when met with an ignition source (e.g. a lighter).*

The flash point of ethanol, for example, is 13 ºC (55.4 ºF). As this temperature is well below average room temperature, this can be quite dangerous, which is why storage and transport of ethanol is strictly controlled by the Department of Transportation (DOT). If someone accidentally spills ethanol, or if the container has a leak, the fuel will begin forming a flammable vapor — making the air in any closed space ready to combust as soon as it is exposed to an ignition source.

Lovinflame Fuel, on the other hand, exhibits a comparatively high flash point — at 104 ºC (220 ºF) — classifying it as a Class III B combustible liquid, alongside coconut oil and olive oil.

*Flash point is not the same as autoignition temperature, which is the temperature at which the liquid vapors spontaneously ignite without an ignition source.

What is the difference between ethanol and Lovinflame Fuel?

As discussed in the previous section, ethanol has a rather low flash point (13 ºC/55.4 ºF) compared to Lovinflame Fuel (104 ºC/220 ºF). Lovinflame’s remarkably high flash point is the reason our decorative flame products are much easier and safer to use than ethanol counterparts.

 

Compared to ethanol fuel, our water-soluble, non-flammable Lovinflame Fuel is relatively safer and poses fewer risks. Watch it in action! 

In practice, this means that:

1. Lovinflame Fuel won’t immediately ignite when in direct contact with a butane lighter

Even the heat provided by a butane lighter isn’t enough to ignite this high flash point fuel. In fact, in order to quickly and easily ignite the non-flammable fuel, Lovinflame products are equipped with our patented stainless steel wick, which has been specially designed to rapidly reach temperatures above 900 ºC (1652 ºF). Without this patented design, it would take someone a very, very long time to reach a temperature high enough to ignite the fuel.

2. Lovinflame Fuel lowers the risk of flare-ups
The majority of ethanol-caused accidents are because users directly pour fuel onto the fire when they want to refuel the tank. Due to a low flash point, when users pour ethanol directly onto the flame, the fuel will instantly vaporize and combust — potentially causing severe burns on users’ hands and faces.

Lovinflame Fuel, on the other hand, won’t begin to vaporize until it reaches 104 ºC, substantially reducing risk of flare-ups during refueling. While we don’t recommend pouring the fuel directly on the flame, each of our tabletop fireplaces is equipped with an opening next to the fuel tank for easy refueling during use.

3. Lovinflame Fuel lowers the risk of fire spreading

Even if your uncontrollably energetic pet or child accidentally knocks your Lovinflame candle or tabletop fireplace onto the floor, the fire will not spread across the surface area of our spilled fuel* — in sharp contrast to ethanol burners.

The reason for this all comes back to the chemical nature of the non-flammable Lovinflame Fuel: it won’t ignite until it reaches extremely high temperatures (flash point 104 ºC / 220 ºF), even in the presence of an ignition source, such as a burning wick.

*If the candle or tabletop fireplace is knocked down and comes into contact with something flammable (e.g. a carpet, a rug, curtains, etc.), the fire is very likely to spread to these flammable objects. Even though Lovinflame decorative flame products present less risk than ethanol burners, users must always exercise extreme caution and make sure products are kept well out of reach of pets and children and away from flammable objects.

What can Lovinflame Fuel mean for me?

If you’re a retailer:

  • You can store as much Lovinflame Fuel as your store can accommodate, since it is non-flammable and poses little fire hazard
  • You can directly order Lovinflame Fuel online without restriction, as it is not a DOT-controlled material.

If you’re a user:

  • You can safely use Lovinflame products in your home, putting yourself at a lower risk of flare-ups or spreading fires as a result of fuel spills
  • You can easily order Lovinflame products and Lovinflame Fuel online, without worrying about fulfilling the tedious shipping requirements of flammable liquids such as ethanol
  • You can dispose of Lovinflame Fuel very easily by simply pouring it down the sink or throwing it away with your other trash. Since it is completely degradable and water-soluble, it does not negatively impact the surrounding environment.
Wrapping Up

Enjoying fire is something that makes us human — but, until recently, it has come with an acute set of risks and limitations. Wood-burning fires release toxins and air pollutants. Ethanol burners put ourselves, our families, and our property at risk. And electric fireplaces just aren’t the same.

This new innovation in fire technology finally puts a decorative flame product on the market that allows people to use fire even more safely — letting friends, families, and loved ones gather around the dancing light of the flame, while keeping peace of mind.