Gather Round The BioHearth


Candles and an open fireplace are the hallmarks of holiday coziness, 'tis true, but not only are they inefficient, CO2 and particulate emissions are also unfortunate byproducts - about 15 grams of CO2 for each completely burned candle, and 3.3 kilograms of CO2 for one hour of open fireplace. Paraffin candle fumes can also contain benzene, formaldehyde and toulene, oh my! Last week we wrote about Swedish efforts to eco-certify candles and get consumers to switch to those.

But how to get the open fireplace feeling without the open fire? Ethanol fireplaces or glassfires as they are sometimes called are becoming increasingly popular in Europe where more people live in smallish apartments without any chimneys or hearths. In all shapes and sizes, wall-mounted or freestanding bio-fuel burning glassfires give off only water vapor and a small amount of CO2 - the fuel makers rather cryptically say "in proportions similar to...air exhaled by humans" - and without any smoke or particulate action. Chestnut roasting probably not an option. While in the pictures the fireplaces can look almost as cheesy as those TV-screen fires, in real life biofuel fireplaces do add the cheery atmosphere, without as much off-gassing. A liter of the biofuel burns about 1 - 4 hours at about 4 Euros ($5.75) a liter. Via ::Art Deco Kamin Design (Swedish) and Planika for U.S. available glassfires, including new design by Christopher Pillet.