Growing up, I remember spending long evenings in the winter camped out around the fireplace at my grandparents house. I’d spend hours curled up by the fire reading, soaking in the heat and just enjoying watching the dancing of flames. But if you don’t already have a fireplace, installing one is all but impossible – at least a traditional one. If you love the look of natural fire, but don’t happen to have a chimney, or if you’re just looking for something a little cleaner burning, you might want to think about getting a bio fuel fireplace.
Rather than burning wood or natural gas that require complex structural design changes to install, a bio fuel fireplace is completely self contained. To light them, you simply fill the built in cups or trenches (this Pure model has 2), with liquid bio fuel and then ignite it. The fireplace will burn for up to 7 hours, depending on the size of the container and how high you fill it, and can easily heat a 600 square foot room, but produces no smoke, ash, or toxins, and doesn’t need to be vented or cleaned.
How does it work? If you’ve ever cooked something en flambe in the kitchen, or seen it done on a cooking show, that’s the same basic principle, but with a reservoir like the one on this Argento model instead of in a pan. Bio fuel is a generic term for Ethanol or Methyl Alcohol, a form of fuel made from agricultural byproducts, primarily corn, sugar cane, beets, and sometimes potatoes. Unlike cooking wine, though, Ethanol burns slow and hot, and because it’s highly distilled and refined, it burns completely clean, producing only heat and steam as the byproducts.
Because the fuel is made entirely from renewable resources, and because it burns so cleanly, bio fuel burning fireplaces, like this Xelo, are among the most eco-friendly heating sources available. They produce more heat than a space heater, and are more efficient than a central heating system. If you need to heat a single room, especially a central one like a family room or den, one of these babies is just about the greenest option out there.
Most BioFlame fireplaces come fully assembled, so all you have to do do is take them out of their packaging, set them wherever you want, and they’re ready to enjoy. A single filling of this freestanding Blocco fireplace can provide a full evening worth of heating – the equivalent of a 13,000 BTU space heater. Because you can place it anywhere in the room for 360 exposure (rather than 180 or less of a space heater), you get the maximum amount of heat possible with almost no waste.
That said, these aren’t your traditional fireplaces. While you get all the warmth and beauty of natural fire, the design is very, very different, emphasizing the modern look of glass and brushed metal over the homey cozy feel of brick or stone. A fireplace like this Fiorenzo makes a dramatic statement in any room, and can be hung from or recessed into a wall to look more like a flat screen TV than a fireplace.
The freestanding models are even more dramatic – this Allure model is almost more like a living art piece than a traditional fireplace. And it has benefits beyond it’s beauty – designed specifically for mobility, this particular fireplace is incredibly easy to move around. At a mere 51lbs, or about the weight of a checked bag at the airport, it’s light enough for just about anyone to move, so you can use it like a private space heater just as well as a group conversation starter.
Even better, almost all models are approved for both indoor and outdoor use, so whether you want to set up small spots of light with something like this Solo pedestal fireplace or create a fully heated living space on your patio for evening entertaining, you can – and never have to worry about smoke in your eyes! And because the fuel container is just a simple metal cup, and the flames die out once the liquid in the cup finishes combusting, you won’t ever have to worry about cleanup. You can just fill it and forget it until the next time you want to use it – even with a lot of time in between uses.
This Prive is probably the most traditional-looking of BioFlame’s fireplaces, and it, too, works equally well for a sleek modern living room or bedroom, or as part of an outdoor kitchen or den. But unlike traditional brick or stone fireplaces, the metal surface (or the glass on some of its counterparts) can get HOT. So you can watch and warm yourself, but make sure everyone – especially children! – knows not to touch!
If you love the look of natural flames but don’t have a fireplace – or even if you’re just looking for a cleaner burning alternative, a bio fuel powered one is a revolutionary alternative. Great for homes of any size – especially apartments! – these really hit my favorite trifecta: beautiful, functional, and good for the environment. D0 you have a fireplace now, and are looking to add another or switch to a more renewable source? Or are you dying to toast some marshmallows on your apartment balcony? Let me know in the comments!