Faking it: a wood burner without a flue

Faking it: a wood burner for cheats

We have been yearning after a wood burner (wood burning stove, log burner, whatever you want to call it) for years. One thing we really miss in our 1970s house is that there aren’t any fireplaces whatsoever (a big change coming from period properties) and we’ve always thought that a wood burner would provide our living space with the perfect focal point, as well as being something to cosy up around when it’s cold out. But because we don’t have any chimneys, having a wood burner installed isn’t as straightforward as it might be, and after a couple of super-scary quotes to have one put in, we ended up putting the idea on the back burner (sorry).

Which is why I was really intrigued when I got an email from Imaginfires, asking if I wanted to try out one of their bioethanol fires. I spotted the wood burner designs on the site, and actually had to double check that we could indeed have one without a chimney or flue. And we could! There’s a good range of freestanding and wall mounted fireplaces on the website, but it was the wood burner style fireplaces we were interested in. We chose the Malvern Black – it has a classic shape but with some more contemporary details that I thought would work well with the mix of modern and vintage in our home.

Faking it: a wood burner for cheats

So, bioethanol? What’s that all about? Bioethanol is a liquid fuel made by fermenting the sugar and starch components of plant by-products (mainly sugar cane and crops like grain) – don’t worry, that’s as technical as I’m going to get. The bioethanol comes in a plastic litre bottle, and there’s a fuel box inside the fireplace that you fill with fuel, and then light. A litre of fuel takes on average 3.5 hours to burn, and it’s environmentally friendly and clean. I’ve added a pack of Imaginfire’s ceramic logs to our fireplace to give more of a look of a wood burner– these just stack around the opening on the fuel box (where the flames come out).  You obviously don’t get the crackle of a real fire, and a couple of times we haven’t shut off the fire before it ran out of fuel, and we were left with an unpleasant smell of bioethanol fumes, but I can’t fault how great the fire looks, and it really does give the room the focal point I thought a wood burner would.

Faking it: cheat's wood burner

Of course the really big difference between this and a real wood burner is the heat output. The bioethanol fireplace gives out approximately the same amount of heat as an electric heater on a medium setting. In a large open plan living space like ours, this doesn’t have a huge impact on the temperature of the room – you have to be sitting pretty close to feel the warmth. Despite that we’re really happy to be able to have the look of a wood burner, without the hassle of installation.

Faking it: a wood burner for cheats

Faking it: a wood burner for cheats

Faking it: a wood burner for cheats

Disclosure: Imaginfires gave me the fire and fuel for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are honest and my own



  1. March 13, 2017 / 10:01 am

    That’s definitely given me fuel for thought I’m just in the throws of turning our kitchen into a snug, there is no chimney and I so wanted another log burner for this room, it’s only little. Will pop over to the site for a look.

  2. March 14, 2017 / 12:43 pm

    I’m just on the look out for something for our living room, the real wood burners are way out of our reach so this might be a solution.

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