How To Put Out An Ethanol Fire In 5 Steps

To put out an ethanol fire, an alcohol-type or alcohol-resistant AR-AFFF extinguisher is the best option. AR-AFFF means Alcohol-Resistant Aqueous Film Forming Foam. Keep in mind that standard AFFF extinguishers cannot put out ethanol fires. For small ethanol fires, however, you can use a CO2, halon, or dry chemical extinguisher marked B, C, BC, or ABC. Also, you can smother the fire with sand, dirt, baking soda, etc. However, if there is a large fire of ethanol, you should evacuate immediately and call 911. 

In this article, we will be discussing the methods on how to put out an ethanol fire.

Key Takeaways

  • In the event of an ethanol fire, prioritize safety by calling 911, evacuating if necessary, and staying upwind to avoid toxic fumes.
  • To extinguish a small ethanol fire, use a foam fire extinguisher, aiming at the back edge of the flames and discharging the foam in a sweeping motion until the fire is fully out.
  • Prevent ethanol fires by storing ethanol safely, keeping it away from open flames, and having a fire extinguisher rated for Class B fires on hand for emergencies.

What Should You Do If There Is An Ethanol Fire? 

If there is a small ethanol fire, put it out immediately. However, you should prioritize safety if you encounter a large ethanol fire. Here are the steps you should take if there is a large  ethanol fire-

  • Call 911 Immediately: As soon as you become aware of the fire, dial 911 to report the emergency. Provide clear and accurate information about the location and nature of the fire.
  • Do Not Attempt to Extinguish the Fire: If you aren’t a trained firefighter with the proper equipment and foam, you shouldn’t try to extinguish the fire yourself.
  • Evacuate if Necessary: As soon as the fire begins to grow rapidly or becomes uncontrollable, evacuate. 
  • Stay Upwind: Position yourself and others upwind of the fire. The density of ethanol vapor makes it settle in low areas. Staying upwind helps to avoid inhaling potentially toxic fumes and reduces the risk of the fire spreading in your direction.

How To Put Out Ethanol Fire: Step-By-Step Process 

If the fire is small then you should attempt to put it out immediately, or it may spread and grow larger within a short time. So, here is the process of how you can use fire extinguishers to put out an ethanol fire- 

Precaution: Before attempting to extinguish the fire, ensure that you have a clear and unobstructed escape route

Step 01. Prepare the Extinguisher: Stand a safe distance away from the fire, at least six to eight feet, and with your back toward the previously identified exit. Ensure the AR-AFFF extinguisher is ready for use by pulling the safety tag to break the seal and pulling out the safety pin.

Step 02. Aim at the Back Edge of the Fire: Point the nozzle of the foam extinguisher at the back edge of the ethanol fire, not directly at the base of the flames. This allows the foam to form a blanket over the fire, effectively smothering it.

Step 03. Discharge the Extinguisher: With one hand holding the hose and the other on the lever, slowly squeeze the lever to discharge the foam. Move the nozzle from side to side, covering the entire area of the fire to ensure it is fully extinguished.

Step 04. Continue Until Extinguished: Use the entire content of the foam fire extinguisher to ensure that the fire is fully extinguished. This also helps cool down the area, reducing the risk of re-ignition.

Step 05. Monitor the Situation: Keep an eye on the area after using the extinguisher to ensure that the fire does not reignite. Repeat the process if necessary.

Can You Smother An Ethanol Fire? 

Yes, you can smother an ethanol fire by preventing oxygen from reaching the flame. You can do this by covering the fire with a blanket, towel, or other non-flammable material. Alternatively, you can use an alcohol-rated fire extinguisher. For example, B, C, ABC, etc.

To smother an ethanol fire, you can cover it with a non-flammable piece of clothing or you can throw some baking soda on it. Soil, sand, dirt, and pans will also work.

Can You Use Water To Put Out An Alcohol Fire? 

Alcohol Fire
Source: quora

No, you should not use water to put out an alcohol fire. Water is denser than alcohol, so it will float on top of the alcohol and spread the fire. Additionally, the water can vaporize and create steam, which can also spread the fire and cause burns.

How To Prevent Ethanol Fires 

To prevent such stressful situations, you can always follow these tips- 

how to put out an ethanol fireplace
Source: livingandhome
  • Keep ethanol away from open flames and heat sources. Sparks or flames can easily ignite ethanol, as it is highly flammable.
  • Store ethanol in a cool, dark place. You should store ethanol in a cool, dark place in a tightly sealed container to prevent evaporation.
  • Install smoke detectors and CO detectors and all the fire safety precautions suggested by the government. Have a professional inspect for fire alarms and safety measurements.
  • Do not smoke near ethanol. Smoking can cause a spark that could ignite ethanol vapors.
  • Be careful when pouring ethanol. Ethanol can easily spill and ignite if it is not handled carefully.
  • Use a non-flammable wick when burning ethanol. A cotton wick is a good option.
  • Extinguish all flames before leaving the area. Make sure all ethanol flames are extinguished before leaving the area.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency. Ethanol fires should be extinguished with fire extinguishers that are suitable for this purpose. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Can You Turn Off An Ethanol Fireplace? 

Yes, you can turn off an ethanol fireplace at any time, even if there is ethanol fuel still left in the burner. However, it is generally recommended to allow the ethanol to burn until it completely runs out.

How Long Does Ethanol Fire Burn For? 

Generally, one liter of bioethanol fuel can run an ethanol fireplace for at least four hours at maximum setting and eight hours at minimum setting. The burn time can vary depending on the fireplace’s design, the specific fuel used, and the settings you choose.

Is Ethanol Fire Invisible At Night? 

Yes, ethanol fires can be visible at night, but barely. The flames do not have a visible blue coloration like a gas flame. When it is dark, they emit a faint, blue flame that can be difficult to see.


Knowing how to put out an ethanol fire is crucial, but you should not try to put out fires that are large. In such cases, just evacuate and call for professional assistance. In the event of fire hazards, prioritize your and your family’s safety.