Gel Fireplace




Introduction: Gel Fireplace

About: built a few things using instructables

The recent cold fronts that have hit the south has really gotten me to do some thinking about fireplaces. I grew up with a fireplace, but my current home doesn't have one and getting one of those gas ones just isn't the same, plus the weather in Florida changes everyday.

I got the inspiration to do this from my cousin up in Michigan. They have one of those showcase homes you would find in magazines. Anyways, instead of having a true fireplace that took up their living room that really didn't fit into the decor, they had one angled steel bar that ran about 8 foot on top of a bed of pebbles. My cousin demonstrated its use as a fireplace. He used gel, similar to sterno's but much better and designed to be used for fireplaces (it even crackled like a real wood). He spread the gel on the bar and just lit it. Next thing you know, there was a nice fire going and heat started coming off it. It was really warm after about 10 minutes. It got so warm that their second floor started heating up.

So as an inspiration, I have been thinking of how I would do this to my home without  ruining my decor. So I came up with this portable gel fireplace. Hopefully, you'll get enjoyment of doing this as I did. Here we go....

Step 1: Disclaimer

First off, I have to do a disclaimer so I don't get into trouble if someone gets hurt or loses a home.

**By following this instructable, you are taking full responsibility of any consequence that may happen as a result of this project. This is an open flame, so be aware that this needs to be used in an open, well ventilated area. If you experience lightheadedness and/or other symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, open windows or doors. In addition, this should be on a solid surface and not be in an area where a flame may ignite an object and start a fire (carpet, draperies, or other flammable materials). Please be mindful of your surrounding and do not leave this or any open flame unattended or be within children's or pets's reach.**

Ok, let's move on to the tools needed

drill with a steel drill bit
welding plier clamp or bench vise (or something that can bend steel)
metal shear

Materials needed

1/8" thick stainless steel (mine measured 12 x 24). Cost: about $10 at a scrap yard
1/16" sheet metal (mine was scrap laying around). Cost $5 at home depot or even less at scrap yard
various nuts and bolt. No more than $3 at home depot
Can of fireplace gel. $3.00 at

Step 2: Bend Steel

Ok with this step, you will need your hands. Take the 1/8" thick stainless steel and bend it to a C shape. Be careful not to do it too quick or you may end up creasing it. You want a nice curve C in the end. Work it until you get the shape you want.

Step 3: Make Trough

You will need something to hold the gel. I created a triangular "trough" to hold mine. You can make any style you like, just make sure that the ends are not flat so that the gel won't overflow. Mine was easy. I just measured out 3 x 6 in sheet metal and bent it down the middle. I then took the ends and put a slit down the middle and bent each side to close it off.

Step 4: Cut Trough Holder

Measure and mark out 2 rectangular pieces on the sheet metal. Mine was 2 x 4 inches. Before you cut the 2 rectangular pieces that will hold the trough, drill 2 holes that will be used to attach it to the stainless steel. After making the holes, cut the pieces. On the opposite side where you put the hole, use the shears to cut a "cradle" to hold the trough. It can be any shape, I used triangle because the shape of my trough is triangle. Bend the end with the hole 90 degrees. Repeat with the other piece making sure that it's the same height when finished.

Step 5: Make Holes and Attach Trough Holder

On the stainless steel, drill 6 holes using a drill bit that can penetrate steel. I used a titanium coated drill bit from Home depot. 4 holes will be for the legs, 2 holes will be for the cradle for the trough. Position the 4 holes along the edges of one end of the c-shaped stainless steel (this will serve as the "base" part of the fireplace). Position the 2 holes along the middle of the base and center it. Make sure the positioning of the cradle is under the "awning" of the c-shaped stainless steel. The reason for this is so that the fire is contained from going too high and possibly out of control. 

Step 6: Putting It Together

Put the trough holder on the stainless steel using nuts and bolts. Put longer nuts and bolts on the 4 corners of the base. So that the bolt holds up the stainless steel, use 2 nuts to sandwich the stainless steel and provide space between the floor and the steel. You can go without putting the 4 corner bolts, but putting legs on it not only gives it a cleaner look, but also balances it from tipping over on its back.

Step 7: Fill the Trough

 Now open the gel and pour some of it on the trough. Be careful not to have it overflow or you're really will have an out of control fire. I only put it about a 1/4 filled the first time to see how long it lasted, then I adjusted to get more time out of it.

**Before you light your fireplace, make sure that it is on a solid surface, that you have an extinguisher close by, and top and sides of your fireplace are not anywhere close to a flammable material. **

Step 8: Light, Sit Back, and Enjoy

 Place the trough on the base and make sure it is secured on the base. 

Take a long length lighter and light it

Enjoy the warmth.

***Depending on the size and how much you put in the trough will determine the length of time the fire will stay lit. If you want to make it last even longer and contain the fire more, put a cover on the trough with a small opening.***

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    3 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Can you make the trough leakproof and use a liquid ethanol fire place fuel? I understand with gels, there is a bit of a smell as it goes out and a residue that's leftover. The curved metal design to reflect heat into the room is fantastic, though.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    pretty neat idea. where do you get the gel stuff and how expensive is it?