Portable fireplaces, fire pots, fondue pots and pourable fuels safety: the risk of flame jetting
On this page
- About portable fireplaces, fire pots, and fondue pots
- Flame-jetting risks
- Safely using portable fireplaces, fire pots, and fondue pots with liquid or gel fuels
About portable fireplaces, fire pots, and fondue pots
Portable products that use liquid or gel fuels are popular for indoor and outdoor use.
Common products include:
- fire pots
- portable fireplaces
- fondue pots
- any product that uses liquid or gel fuels
While the flames in these may seem less intense or more controlled than traditional wood burning fires, there are serious risks to using these products.
When you pour liquid or gel fuels into a portable fireplace, fire pot, or a fondue fuel reservoir that is still burning or hot:
- the vapour inside the fuel container can ignite, and
- flames can violently shoot out of the container onto nearby people or objects
This is called flame jetting.
How flame jetting happens
The flame or hot fireplace, fire pot, or fondue fuel reservoir ignites fuel vapours around the poured fuel stream. The flame then travels up the fuel stream and into the fuel container. This can result in a burst of flaming fuel jetting rapidly out of the container and travelling a distance dangerous to the user and bystanders.
Flame jetting occurs very quickly, so the user and/or bystanders are unable to react quickly enough to move away from an incoming flame jet. Flame jetting poses a serious fire and burn risk to anyone near the portable fireplace, fire pot, or fondue pot.
In Canada, flame jetting has resulted in deaths and several very serious injuries, to both the person refilling the product with fuel and to multiple bystanders.
Safely using portable fireplaces, fire pots, and fondue pots with liquid or gel fuels
If using a liquid or gel fuel to refill a fireplace, fire pot, or fondue fuel reservoir:
- Be certain that the flame is out. Use a snuffer or similar feature.
- Never pour fuel over a flame. Some fuels will burn so that flames may be hard to see, especially when the fireplace, fire pot, or fondue fuel reservoir has a low amount left in it.
- Be certain that the fireplace, fire pot, or fondue fuel reservoir has completely cooled before refilling.
Other safety tips for portable fireplaces, fire pots, fondue pots, and liquid or gel fuels:
- Non-refillable fuel canisters are a safer alternative to liquid or gel fuels.
- Use containers with a flame arrestor, if you use a liquid or gel fuel. A flame arrestor resembles a screen built into the container opening. It allows liquid to flow out and lowers the chances that a flame can travel into the container and cause flame jetting.
- Use portable fireplaces, fire pots, and fondue pots:
- on level ground or on a steady, level surface
- at a safe distance from people and flammable items.
- Keep liquid or gel fuels:
- tightly capped when not in use
- away from any flames or other objects that can create a spark.
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