indoor chiminea with gel fuel

Indoor Chimineas – Using Gel fuel

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I decided to take a closer look at how practical using an indoor chiminea with gel fuel is to get some heat and ambience in my living room. With the cost of living crisis and massive surge in central heating expenses, is it possible to heat your living room with a chiminea using gel fuel? Let’s find out.

Is it Possible to Heat a Living Room with an Indoor Chiminea?

Yes! In fact the results were much more impressive then I anticipated. Read on to see how well using gel fuel canisters worked in my indoor chiminea.

What Kind of Gel Fuel Did I Use?

After some research, I opted for the ethanol gel fuel cans from Chafing Fuel. They were well-reviewed on Amazon and were cheap and each one lasts 3.5 hours.

Other benefits are:

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Non-toxic ethanol
  • Smokeless
  • Odourless
  • Heat up quickly
  • Easy to light
  • Easy to extinguish

Heating My Living Room With an Indoor Chiminea

indoor chiminea with gel fuel - top view
Top view of gel fuel in clay chiminea

We’re getting well into winter now here in Scotland and I had brought my little clay chim inside when the weather started to turn. The plan was to try it out as an indoor chim and I’m really pleased with the result!

I’d bought this little clay chiminea from JD Williams early in the summer this year and had some lovely burns in the garden with some wood. It was only £47 as I think I got it in the sale, so a terrific bargain. They don’t have this model now but you can use the above link to see similar ones they have in stock .

For a complete guide to Indoor Chimineas check out my article – here you can learn about alternative fuel for your indoor chiminea.

Here are the steps I took to transform it into an indoor chiminea:

1. Clean it

Yep, always the least favourite job but important as you want to get rid of all that ash and soot from your chim before bringing it inside. I have lava stones in the bottom of this one so it was easy as tipping them all out and brushing them off and replacing them.

By leaving them in, it give that buffer of protection against any high heat produced by the gel fuel and also lifts them up making them nice and visible from the mouth of your chiminea.

2. Buy the fuel

chafing gel fuel
Ethanol gel fuel

Next, I researched some of the gel fuels available. I wanted something simple and easy to use and after reading lots of reviews about the ‘Chafing Fuel’ brand I went with them. I bought just 3 cans but I wish I’d got the bigger box of 12 as I’m addicted to this now!

3. Open the fuel cans

Depending on how warm you want to make your room, you can decide on how many cans to use. I started with 1 and the heat was ok, but I wanted to test 3 cans as I think it looked better and definitely gave out lots more heat.

open the gel fuel can
Opening the gel fuel can

The cans were easy to open, just use scissors (pictured above) or a screwdriver the same way you’d open a paint can. Edge a little open then turn and get it from a different angle.

4. Place open fuel cans in the chiminea

Next, carefully arrange your cans inside your chiminea. It’s important to place them in first BEFORE lighting as they get hot quickly and you want to make sure they are on a stable surface first. As I have lava stones it was a tad more tricky to get them all flat than it maybe would be on sand.

5. Light the gel fuel

Cans when lit

Now that you have the cans in your chiminea, just use a long nose lighter to light the one at the back first, then work your way to the front. This way, you’ll avoid singing your sleeves! You shouldn’t have to reach inside for the gel as it should light easily by touching the flame to the outside rim.

6. Enjoy

These gel fuel cans should last at least 3.5 hours and as you can maybe hear from the video, they also give off a lovely crackling noise too, which I really liked.

7. How to extinguish the fire

Extinguishing fire in the indoor chiminea

The gel cans are really easy to put out whenever you want. It’s as simple as popping the lid back on them. Leave them to cool down and then you can lift them out and put the lid on more firmly, creating a tight seal for next time.

Obviously, be extremely careful here as everything inside your chiminea is hot. Start with the ones nearest the front and put them out first, so you are not reaching across flames.

Indoor Chiminea as Alternative to Gas Central Heating

Surprisingly, the indoor chiminea with gel fuel worked really well to heat my living room. I took some temperature readings as I was curious about how effective it would be in heating my room.

For reference, my living room is roughly 4m (13ft) in length, and 3m (9.5ft) in width, making 16 metres squared (or 52 foot squared) with a height of 3m (9.5ft). This makes a total of 36m3 or 118ft3.

Starting Room Temperature

room temperature before using indoor chiminea
Starting room temperature 60.62 Fahrenheit

Before starting the chiminea fire with the gel fuel the indoor temp was a chilly 15.9 Celcius (60.62 Fahrenheit). Tonight the outside temperature here is about freezing (or 0 celsius).

Temperature Directly Above the Indoor Chiminea

I then let the gel fuel warm up for about 15 minutes before taking more temperature readings. The first reading I took was from directly above the chiminea chimney. The temperature here was an impressive 55.2 Celcius (131 Fahrenheit).

room temperature directly above indoor chiminea
Temperature directly above indoor chiminea chimney

Temperature Across the Room

room temperature other side of room from indoor chiminea
Temperature 3m away from chiminea

Finally, the temperature across the room, approximately 3 metres away from the chiminea, was 22.5 Celcius (72.5 Fahrenheit) and the room was warm! I was particularly impressed as my ceilings are quite high at about 3m (9.8 ft). Yes, I was using 3 canisters, and perhaps if I had used 2 and let it heat up for longer, I’d get similar results.

Can an Indoor Chiminea Replace Central Heating?

As an alternative form of house heating, an indoor chiminea does a good job of heating a small to medium-sized room. Let’s do the math on the cost:

12 cans cost £19 = £1.58 per can

Each can works for 3.5 hours and if you used 2 cans it would cost about £3 to heat your room for 3 and a half hours.

‘How much does it cost to run gas central heating per hour? If you’re connected to mains gas, you’re looking at a cost of around 11.51p per kilowatt-hour. This means that if you have a 24 kW boiler, you can expect to pay around £2.76 per hour to run it on mains gas.’


This means for most people, it will work out cheaper than running your central heating for the same length of time. Remember, though, this will only heat one room where your central heating will likely heat your whole house.

Safety Tips For Using Gel Fuel In Indoor Chimineas

  • Make sure only to use gel fuel that is specifically designed for use in indoor use. Using regular firewood or other fuel types can be dangerous and cause a fire.
  • Before lighting the gel fuel, ensure the chiminea is on a stable, level surface and away from flammable materials.
  • Use a long match or a long-stemmed lighter to light the gel fuel, and keep your face and body safe from the chiminea while it is lit.
  • Never leave a lit chiminea unattended, and be sure to extinguish the flame before going to bed or leaving the room.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case of an emergency, and read the gel fuel container instructions before use to ensure safe and proper handling.
  • Do not use gel fuel in a cracked or damaged chiminea, as this can increase the fire risk.
  • Be mindful of children and pets around an open flame and teach them not to touch.

One More Video of My Indoor Chiminea

Indoor chiminea in action

I hope you give indoor chimineas a try and love it as much as I do. The combination of the welcome heat and light with the lovely low-level crackle was way better than I expected, and this wee clay chim will be proud of place in my fireplace until the Spring now! Perfect for a cosy night in.

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