To use flame gel in a fake fireplace, owners can add it to the fireplace's fuel container. Depending on the design of the fireplace and burner, some manufacturers supply flame gel in prefilled containers. Once the fuel is in place, owners find the use of a long stem match or lighter to start the fuel burning easiest.
The gel is a mixture of ethanol and propanol along with thickeners that provide a clean, smoke-free flame. The fireplaces do not require a chimney and do not create ashes. While combustion is complete and the devices do not generally produce carbon monoxide, they do increase the carbon dioxide content in a room, so a small room sometimes requires an outside air source.
Fireplaces generally burn about 1 quart of fuel every two hours. Most include a snuffer that allows the user to extinguish the flames when leaving the home.
Most gel fireplaces are freestanding and require little to no assembly. Many are lightweight enough to move from room to room. They are safe for both indoor and outdoor use. According to the Consumer Manual, it is important for owners to use caution with any open flames and to never leave open flames unattended.