Decorative alcohol fuelled devices are sold for heating and display purposes. The fuel is typically ethanol in liquid or (less commonly) gel form. The most common form is methylated spirits (ethanol and around 10 percent methanol) which can also be marketed as bio-ethanol or eco-fuel.
These devices are especially dangerous when they are being refuelled. When the fuel is low, the flame can appear blue or clear, making it difficult to see. Refuelling when a flame is present or the device is still warm can lead to an explosion. There is also a risk of the device being knocked over by children or pets and causing serious burns to people nearby as well as damage to property.
New safety standard
From 15 July 2017, a new safety standard began that:
- prevents the supply of table top devices (devices which weigh less than 8 kilograms or have a footprint less than 900 square centimetres); and
- requires freestanding and fixed devices to meet a stability test, come with a fuel container with a flame arrester (or an automatic fuel pump system) and display warnings on the device about refuelling hazards.
Go to the decorative alcohol fuelled devices page on the Product Safety Australia website for more information.
Images of examples of decorative alcohol-fuelled devices
Information for traders
If you have supplied devices that are unsafe for consumers, you are expected to take action to minimise the risk of serious injury or death, by undertaking a voluntary recall of unsafe devices previously supplied. Guidance for how to conduct a recall is provided by the ACCC on the conducting a recall page.
There are tough penalties for selling products which do not comply with a safety standard. Individuals can face a maximum fine of $220,000 and corporations face a maximum fine of $1.1 million.
Information for consumers
Consumers who want to purchase decorative alcohol-fuelled devices should check with suppliers that the device complies with the safety standard.
Consumers who have purchased a decorative alcohol-fuelled device before, which now does not meet the new standard, should return the item to the seller with their proof of purchase to obtain a refund. Go to the Product Safety Australia website for information about the safety standard and consumer rights.
If you become aware of an unsafe situation or item, whether or not anyone has been injured, you should alert the supplier about the issue. You can also report it by lodging a complaint on our website or via the Product Safety Australia website.