Ethanol may not be the solution for the fuel crisis, but is it the solution for the social fireplace crisis? Ask yourself this: when was the last time my friends and I gathered around a fire at a bar and clinked glasses over the flames? I’m guessing never. But these EcoSmart fireplaces may change that, since there’s no wood. At least, I hope so. Been a long time since my last weenie roast.
They’ve been around for a while, but recently added a new fireplace to the lineup, a design-y freestanding one called the Zeta. You can also get various standard sizes to replace traditional fireplaces. I’d never give up a real fireplace if I had one, but I can see how maybe in a non-fireplaced home or restaurant, having one of these things would be pretty cool.
There are some other, freakier designs if you’re interested. They all burn denatured alcohol, or ethanol, which is fed to the fire in liquid form and used up at a rate of about half a liter per hour, depending on the setting (that’s about 0.15 gallons). Not too bad, especially when you consider that it’s an open fire and there’s no need to flue away any harmful byproducts or smoke. It burns clean into water vapor and CO2.
Personally, woodsmoke is one of my favorite smells, so I’ll continue to contribute to the problem, but it’s good to know these things exist.