Public advisory

Health Canada warns against using rubbing alcohol products to fuel firepots – this can result in serious burn injuries

Last updated

Summary

Product
Portable firepots, also known as firebowls, flamepots, or tabletop firepits, are decorative lighting accents that support an open flame by burning liquid or gel fuels.
Issue
Consumer products - Burn hazard
Consumer products - Fire hazard
Consumer products - Flammability hazard
Consumer products - Injury hazard
What to do

Never fuel firepots with rubbing alcohol or other flammable liquids from a container that does not have a flame arrestor to help prevent the spread of flames.

Issue

Certain firepot manufacturers recommend the use of rubbing alcohol products as a fuel for firepots, which has led to two incidents of severe burn injuries in Canada.

Health Canada is warning people not to fuel firepots with rubbing alcohol products (i.e., solutions of isopropyl alcohol or ethanol), even if instructions suggest it. This is a dangerous practice that can lead to serious fire and burn risks.

Rubbing alcohol products are typically sold for antiseptic purposes and are not intended to be used with firepots. It is dangerous to use rubbing alcohol products as a fuel source for firepots because rubbing alcohol containers typically do not have a flame arrestor. Other containers of flammable liquids without a flame arrestor should also never be used for fueling a firepot. A flame arrestor looks like a screen that is built into the container opening and is a device that lowers the chances of flame jetting.

Flame jetting is when a fireball bursts from a container of fuel which can cause serious injuries, even death. This happens very quickly when a flammable liquid, from a container without a flame arrestor, is poured into a firepot that is still burning or hot. The flame can travel up the stream of the fuel and into the container. This can lead to a burst of flaming fuel jetting out of the container. The resulting flame jet poses a serious fire and burn risk to the user and anyone nearby. Health Canada advises consumers to only use a fuel container with a flame arrestor or to choose a non-refillable gel fuel canister as a safer alternative for fueling firepots.

What you should do

  • If using a portable firepot that requires liquid fuel to refuel:
    • Do not use rubbing alcohol, or any other flammable liquid in a container that does not have a flame arrestor. A flame arrestor looks like a screen that is built into the container opening. (see photo below for examples)

      examples
  • Other safety tips for portable firepots:
    • Never pour a flammable liquid over a flame. Alcohol-based liquids will burn in a way that makes flames difficult to see, especially when a low amount of the liquid is left in the firepot.
    • Use a snuffer, or something similar, to be sure the fire is out. Make sure the firepot has cooled before refueling.
    • Use firepots on level ground or on a stable, level surface at a safe distance from people and flammable items.
    • Keep pourable fuels tightly capped when not refuelling and away from flames or other objects that can create a spark.
    • Non-refillable gel fuel canisters are a safer alternative to pourable fuels.

Related links

Additional information

What is being done

Health Canada has notified firepot manufacturers of the serious risks involved with using rubbing alcohol products with portable firepots. The Department has requested that manufacturers remove any recommendations for rubbing alcohol as a fuel in their instructions or promotional materials.

In 2019, Health Canada asked industry to stop the sale of certain containers of pourable alcohol-based fuels and certain portable firepots that use pourable fuels as it was determined they pose a danger to human health or safety.

Health Canada also established mandatory requirements for containers of pourable alcohol-based fuels and portable firepots to help address the risk of flame jetting. A container of a pourable alcohol-based fuel supplied in Canada requires a permanent flame arrestor that meets specific performance criteria outlined in the safety standard ASTM F3429 / F3429M – 20, "Standard Specification for Performance of Flame Mitigation Devices Installed in Disposable and Pre-Filled Flammable Liquid Containers", or an equivalent standard. Portable firepots are required to meet specific performance criteria outlined in ASTM F3363-19, "Standard Specification for Unvented Liquid/Gel Fuel-Burning Portable Devices", or an equivalent standard.

Details
Original published date:
Alert / recall type
Public advisory
Category
Consumer products - Appliances
Consumer products - Outdoor living
Consumer products - Specialized products
Companies
Published by
Health Canada
Audience
General public
Industry
Manufacturers
Retail
Identification number
RA-74780
Media and public enquiries

Media Enquiries
Health Canada
613-957-2983
media@hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Enquiries
613-957-2991
1-866-225-0709

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