Your House is Your Haven: Don't Neglect the Interior

Which Fireplace Fuel Type Is Best For Elderly Homeowners?

by Cherly King

A fireplace can be a hugely practical and attractive addition to the living room or communal area of any home, and the added warmth and comfort they provide can be particularly useful to elderly homeowners. However, many types of fireplace fuel, such as timber logs or propane gas, can be difficult or even dangerous to use for some older people.

Fortunately, many modern fireplaces run on modern fuels that are much safer and easier to use, especially for older people with joint problems, limited mobility, and other age-related issues.  If you are an older person who wants to install a new fireplace or upgrade an existing one in their home, consider choosing a fireplace that runs on one of the following fuels:

Gel fuel

Gel-fuelled fireplaces are an ideal choice for fireplace for many elderly homeowners and are particularly useful if you install your new fireplace without making extensive modifications to your home. Because gel fireplace fuel is made from isopropyl alcohol and burns with a very clear, smoke-free flame, gel fireplaces can function without chimneys, making them much easier and less expensive to install than other types of a fireplace.

Gel fuel fireplaces are also the easiest type of fireplace to use and are especially useful for elderly users who have trouble stopping. Simply open a canister of gel fuel, place it in the fireplace, and ignite it with an extended stove or fireplace lighter. 

Unfortunately, gel fireplaces tend to create significantly less heat than other types of fireplace, and during very cold weather you may need to rely on your home's central heating system to provide extra heat. Purchasing individual canisters of gel fuel can also become expensive over time, although buying in bulk is usually more economical.

Ethanol fuel

Another fireplace fuel that does not require a chimney, ethanol fireplace fuel is much less expensive than gel fuel and burns just as cleanly. An excellent, low-maintenance choice for elderly users, ethanol fireplaces do not create soot or other solid combustion byproducts, making cleaning and maintaining your new fireplace extremely easy.

Ethanol fireplaces also pose a much lower risk of fire than other types of fireplace, as the liquid fuel is poured through a funnel directly into the fireplace, and does not shoot sparks or embers when it is ignited. Ethanol fireplaces are a particularly smart choice for rooms with carpets, drapes and other highly-flammable soft furnishings.

You should bear in mind that ethanol fuel does not create much more heat than gel fuel, and you may not be able to rely on an ethanol fireplace as a primary source of heat. Ethanol fireplace inserts can also be quite expensive to install.


Electric fireplaces may not be as fashionable as they once were, but in practical terms, they are an excellent choice for any elderly homeowner. They are inexpensive to buy and to run, very reliable, and do not create any sparks or embers that can start fires. Like gel and ethanol fireplaces, they can also be used without chimneys.

However, electric fireplaces come into their own when used as a practical heat source. Even small electric fireplaces are capable of creating huge amounts of heat very quickly, and most are significantly more powerful than wood or gas-burning fireplaces. For elderly people who find it difficult to keep warm during the winter months, electric fireplaces are hard to beat.

Sadly, electric fireplaces are undeniably less attractive than other types of the fireplace using 'natural' fuels, and you will not hear any of the soothing cracks and pops of a real roaring fire. Electric fireplaces are also a poor choice if you live in an area with frequent power outages. Find a fireplace for sale for your home.