Gelled alcohol is packaged in a can and burned underneath aluminum chafing dishes filled with food to keep it warm. It can also be used as a makeshift stove during camping.
When using gelled alcohol burners to keep food warm, use a wire frame and pan with an inch of hot water. Put the water pan inside the wire frame and open the burners with a can opener. Arrange the burners underneath the wire frame so the heat is evenly distributed. Use a long match or lighter to ignite the burners, and the water in the pan soon starts to steam. Place the pan of food on top of the pan of water.
Using gelled alcohol burners for a makeshift stove is a more difficult process. They are meant for keeping pre-heated food warm or achieving a simmer; the temperatures produced by gelled alcohol burners are not high enough to reach a boil or cook meat the entire way through. Additionally, they come with the disadvantage of needing both a cooking pot and a stand on which to sit it, as the burner needs to be directly underneath the pot.
Gelled alcohol burners are available in many grocery and sporting goods stores. The containers are spill-proof and re-sealable, and once used, they can be easily crushed and disposed.