The short answer is "No, bioethanol is not toxic, and a bioethanol fireplace does not have to be dangerous, but depends on ...". We go deeper into both points to give a complete answer.
Bioethanol is made from natural products such as corn and cane sugar. In the purest form it is actually 100% alcohol. Since heavy duty is levied on pure alcohol, bioethanol is artificially contaminated, or "denatured". A substance is mixed in through which it is made undrinkable.
Depending on the raw material used and the process that is followed, different purity percentages are achieved (96% and 100% mostly). The 96% variant smells more, the 100% variant is (almost) odorless.
Bioethanol consists of 2 parts carbon, 6 parts hydrogen and 1 part oxygen. In scientific notation: C2H6O. Combustion uses 3 parts of oxygen (O2), and the result is water vapor (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) - exactly what humans & animals also exhale. In short: bioethanol is not toxic (but: do not drink because of the contamination that has been added!), not even when incinerated.
We will return to the use of oxygen during incineration in the next section.
Is a bioethanol fireplace dangerous?
As we stated above: not necessarily. Below we explain the potential hazards and what measures our burners take against them.
Danger 1: filling the bioethanol
Filling the burner with bioethanol is potentially dangerous. During the filling process, spilling can occur, which means that too much fuel will suddenly catch fire when ignited. You do not have to fill our burners manually: put a tube in the jerry can and on the filler opening of the burner, and press the fill button (see photo below). The liquid is pumped directly into the separate tank and this stops automatically when the tank is full. Also, if the burner is still hot, combustion can occur. Our burners have a cooling-down period during which the filling button is disabled.
Danger 2: too full tank
The tank can be overfilled. This is in particular a danger with the simple bioethanol fireplaces where a plug of steel wool directly ignites the fuel. Our burners have a separate tank (with a sensor, which means that the automatic filling system switches off as soon as the tank is full), from which the bio-ethanol is dripped into the burner. The bioethanol supply therefore never comes into direct contact with fire.
Danger 3: Ignition
Igniting the bio-ethanol burner can be dangerous if the tank is spilled or the tank is overfilled (see the above hazards). Our bioethanol fireplaces are lit by a glow element on which droplets of bioethanol are dripped. You will therefore not come close to it yourself with e.g. a lighter.
Danger 4: falling over / bumping into it
Individual burners can fall over or be bumped. Our burners are intended for built-in installation, as a result of which this danger is not actually present. Should something happen in one way or another (for example, because someone bumps into the entire structure), a shock sensor ensures that the fire is switched off immediately.
Danger 5: too little oxygen supply
Every fire uses oxygen. It is therefore important that new oxygen is supplied. In modern houses this is done by mechanical ventilation. For older houses by e.g. ventilation grilles or cracks. If there is insufficient ventilation, it is important that e.g. a window is ajar. In the unlikely event that insufficient oxygen is supplied, our burner has a CO2 sensor that initially warns that the oxygen level is becoming too low, and if the oxygen level decreases further, the burner itself switches off.
Danger 6: incorrect materials
Some cheap burners use materials that are not heat resistant. Our burners are made of stainless steel (SUS 304) and are very solid products.