Common Question: Should Burner Holes Face Upward or Downward?

Today I will try to clear up any confusion on the direction a burner’s holes (or jets) should face (upward or downward).

First of all, this post is about burners using natural gas.  Propane is a whole different subject.  If you are using a propane burner, the holes should already be faced properly for that type of burner.  So let’s forget about propane(LP) for this discussion.

Let’s also make three assumptions.

  1. If you are using the burner in a fireplace, the fireplace floor is completely solid and does not have any cracks or trap doors.
  2. If you are using the burner in a fire pit, there’s a minimum of several inches of filler material under the burner (or a solid surface) and the walls of the fire pit are solid, without any cracks.
  3. In either case above, your burner is surrounded by filler material, such as crushed lava rock and or FireGlass and the filler material comes to at least 2 inches above the top of the burner pipes.

You will notice when ordering any of our burners that have a polarity (where one burner leg is shorter than the other so it fits nicely into the trapezoid shape of a common fireplace) there is an option to order the burner with holes facing downward or upward and to specify which side (left or right) the gas feed is located.

NOTE THAT THE BURNER WILL FUNCTION WELL WHETHER THE HOLES ARE FACING UPWARD OR DOWNWARD, so we do not make the option “mandatory” when you place an order.  This is very important to know.

Taking everything above into account, we prefer to face the burner holes downward.  Since natural gas rises, the gas pushes down and then rises and spreads before igniting and burning above the surface of the filler material.  There is not enough oxygen under the surface of the filler material to allow the gas to burn.  It is too rich to burn.  Natural gas needs to mix with oxygen in order to burn.  Burner holes facing down should give you a little larger flame bed when compared to burner holes facing upward.

I hope that clears up this topic.  As always, feel free to ask for more clarity if something is not making sense.

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How to Maintain and Clean Your Ethanol Fireplace

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If you already own an ethanol fireplace, then you know how simple and easy it is to use and enjoy. Simply fill with bio ethanol fuel, light, and enjoy. If you are considering purchasing one and are worried about the maintenance, you’re in exactly the right place for good news! An ethanol fireplace is incredibly simple to use and maintain for a long, enjoyable life. The following steps will work for a burner insert, a tabletop fireplace, or any wall mounted electric fires you own.

Traditional fireplaces require a great amount of effort to prepare and maintain, including cleaning up acidic ashes and soot, shoveling out the remains of whatever wood you burn. Ethanol fireplaces will still gather a small amount of soot on the back simply as a byproduct of the burning process, and the burner itself will discolor due to fuel spills and exposure to heat, but with a few easy steps, you can keep your ethanol burner looking good as new for years to come.

Easy-Peasy Soot Clean Up

What you’ll need:

– a soft, lint-free cloth

– mild glass cleaner

Once your fireplace cools, take a damp cloth to the back of the fireplace to wipe away whatever gathers. You might need to repeat this once a week, or once a month, depending on how often you use the piece. It really is just that simple. If you’re using a tempered glass tabletop fireplace, feel free to use a mild glass cleaner. No one wants scratches on a beautiful fireplace piece, just remember to let it dry completely before igniting if you use glass cleaner. If you’re using just water and you want to avoid residual stains, consider distilled as the best option with the least impact.

Keeping your Steel Shining

What you’ll need:

– kitchen sponge

– mild dish soap

– small bowl of warm water

– steel polish

As for the stainless steel burner itself, if you start to notice that it’s looking a little gritty, a few swipes with the sponge, warm water, and diluted dish soap will clean it up right quick. If you want to give it a little more tender loving care, grab a little steel polish and go to town. Scrub with the grain, as brushed stainless steel will have that sleek, smooth look, and scrubbing against it will cause premature aging in the design. Using a basic kitchen sponge (you know the ones with a rougher green side and a softer yellow side?) will work perfectly. I can’t stress this enough, make sure it’s all dry before lighting it again.

Burner Maintenance

What you’ll need:

– a soft, lint-free cloth

– steel polish

– household sink

To prevent the burner steel from discoloring, make sure you clean up any fuel spills as soon as possible before lighting the fireplace. This is important, so be careful. Because the burner is constantly exposed to heat, you are inevitably going to see some mild discoloration here or there. When using water, harder water may leave residual stains, so consider picking up distilled water if you really want to make sure you’re avoiding any (and I mean any) possible residue. Steel polish will make magic happen as well, so don’t be shy about using it properly.

Don’t be afraid to remove and rinse the inside of the burner, provided it isn’t a sponge-style. If you have a sponge-style burner insert, this isn’t really an option because the water will sit inside the burner and prevent proper use. In this case, a simple cloth to wipe out the dust is more than enough. Other than that, just make sure it’s completely dry before refilling and lighting it again.

General Guidelines for Longevity

I know I’ve repeated myself quite a few times, but it’s pretty important: make sure the fireplace burner is dry after cleaning and before lighting. There, I won’t say it again, promise! A quick wipe with a dust rag will do wonders, just remember to wipe along with the grain of the brushing effect. If you’re using a wall-mounted electric fireplace, unplug the device before applying any sorts of cleaners or temporary dismantling to prevent risk of shock. Other than that, treat it like a work of art. Dust it when it isn’t in use, show it off when you have visitors, and make sure you purchase one that you can enjoy both with friends and alone.

The Case for Ethanol Fireplaces

This is short and sweet, there’s no getting around it. Rather than struggling with building a fire with the proper ratio of tinder to wood and argue about which is better, building a tent or a stacking the logs like a mini cabin, all you need is a funnel, fuel, and a lighter. What better way to indulge in a beautiful flickering luxury than being able to light it up on a whim, set the mood, enjoy a spontaneous evening with your significant other when the right time comes around? If you’re having a bad day, simply flick the lighter and curl up with a good book or the newest episode of your favorite show, and top it off with a mug of hot chocolate or a Lavender Honey Cream cocktail. You’ve already got good taste if you’re considering an ethanol fireplace.

Because an ethanol fireplace uses eco-friendly bio ethanol fuel, you’re able to aid in the preservation of our environment and dodge the toxic byproducts that traditional wood fires can seep into the air. Because they need no venting, you don’t have to worry about maintaining a chimney and flue. They’re available in tabletop, burner inserts for existing fireplaces, and as a wall mount fireplace heater, plus a few special designs perfect for whatever design needs you have.

These simple steps for long-term ethanol fireplace care will ensure that your piece pays back your investment double or more, providing natural beauty, entertainment, and comfort for years to come.

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Can you use FireBalls in place of fake logs in your direct vent fireplace?

The FireBalls should work, in theory. If they are added in place of the logs, and you keep adequate airflow through the FireBalls and you pay attention not to rest them on the igniter, it should work. There are many different styles of direct vent fireplaces on the market so you would want to remove and observe the log placement to see if it would be easy enough to replace the logs in your fireplace with FireBalls. If you choose to use the FireBalls, you may want to get a set or pack that has spheres and half spheres so you can use the half spheres on the bottom to create stability.

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Direct Vent Fireplaces and FireGlass

I am often asked if glass can be used in place of logs in direct vent fireplaces.

Glass could be used if the burner system was designed for it. Unfortunately, direct vent fireplaces do not have burner systems designed to work properly with the glass.

1 – When glass it put over the top of a burner system that incorporates an ignition system, the igniter will no longer work.

2 – Sealed direct vent fireplaces (ones that have glass panels that remain in place when the fire is burning) have intake air venting, usually in the floor of the fire box. When glass is placed over these vents, the fire box is starved of oxygen and the flame will burn very rich and sooty.

Until fireplace manufacturers create models that are specifically designed to use the glass, you are stuck with products that are similar to logs, such as FireStones, FireBalls or FireShapes.

Update – Fireplace manufacturers have started making direct vent, and even ventless fireplaces that are designed to work with the glass. However, they are quite expensive as they are still a newer product on the market.


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Custom propane fire pit

i am planning on turning an outdoor area that was formerly used for plants into a fire pit.  the area is 1ft by 6ft, is about 4 feet high, and most closely resembles the picture in the “creative / unique” section entitled “Long, narrow fire pit.  i am a weekend do it yourself-er, but since i am attempting a do it myself with items that could blow up, i need some advice.  i understand that some of the questions might be rudimentary.

1 – is there a kit for a long narrow install, most of the ones i have seen are circular

2 – if no kit is available, what kind of piping / hose needs to extend from the propane tank to the pit (flex line, aluminum, sealed plumbing pipe, etc…)?

3 – i saw mention of a “pan” that needs to be installed underneath the pipe in the pit to catch propane that might leak, is there more information available on this

4 – what type of regulator do you recommend for the propane tank

5 – what type of thermocouple do you recommend, and where is this installed

6 – does the inside of the pit need to be treated with anything?  i saw mention of the aquatic glassell, but i am not sure i understand if this is necessary for what i am trying to do.

i can send pictures if someone could explain to me how to attach them.  i am sure once the dialog begins, i will have more questions.  any info you could provide is appreciated.


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Discussion on Listings and Ratings and Approvals

We often get asked if our products have AGA, CSA or UL listings.

Our products do not require any certification from the AGA, CSA or UL as our products are considered a stand-alone product by these agencies. We are told that we would need a certification if sand or lava rock would also need a certification. The agencies are franchise operations and they are privately owned and are not a government agency. These agencies are hired for mass production testing. AGA, CSA and or UL do not certify custom “one of a kind” projects. Custom burners need no certification as this only applies to production equipment. A certification costs about $15,000.00 and was developed for mass production to assure quality.

Any parts used in our custom assemblies, that would normally need AGA or UL, do in fact have these approvals. Parts with function need, and should have, some sort of approval as they are the components that have the potential to make a custom product unsafe. Non-functional items such as lava rock, Aquatic Glassel glass, sand, sheets of glass, steel, etc., do not need approval, as these items are only materials and not items that perform a function.

Carl Herkes

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FireBalls, FireShapes and FireStones

FireBalls – Fire Balls – Cannon Balls for the fireplace, some call them, are really gaining in popularity.  And they are not just for indoor use.  I sell just as many for outdoor fireplaces or fire pits.  There are some amazing projects going on out there, like 8 ft. long fire pits with rows of FireBalls in them.

FireBalls are not the only hot item.  FireStones are just as hot.  Fire pits are also one of the main uses of the FireStones.  With the different sizes and colors available, you can tailor the look to match your surroundings.

FireShapes, FireStones and FireBalls can also be used to directly replace your gas fire logs.  That’s right.  You can use your current burner and grate and in no time you have a whole different look in your fireplace.  This is particularly good news for those of you that own ventless or direct vent fireplaces and have not been able to install the glass.

Check them out in the shopping cart area!

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Propane Burners for Aquatic Glassel

Since custom propane burners are now available for use with Aquatic Glassel, I thought I would give a brief low-down on what type of fireplace you need to have and what to expect if you want to install this burner system.


  1. You must have a fully vented fireplace (with a wood-burning rating)
  2. Your fireplace must have Propane gas plumbed into it
  3. If your fireplace has doors, you must be able to leave them open while burning your fireplace

Installation Steps:

  1. Measure the front width, rear width and front-to-back dimensions of your fireplace floor.  Send these measurements to us along with a digital picture of the inside of the fire box, clearly showing where the gas line enters the fire box.
  2. After we receive your information, we will determine what size burner will fit inside your fireplace.  We will let you know what burner system to purchase.
  3. You purchase the recommended burner and wait up to 6 weeks before the burner ships
  4. Around the time the burner ships (or before) you pick out and order the base glass for your fireplace.  You can use the same fireplace dimensions to use in our online calculator to determine how many pounds of glass to purchase.
  5. You locate finely crushed (pea-size) lava rock to have on hand.  You may need up to 30 lbs (give or take) of the lava rock.
  6. Your burner arrives.  You use our downloadable Propane Burner Installation Manual to guide you through your installation.

That should give you a good idea of the procedure.  You are always free to contact us with questions.

UPDATE:  November 8, 2013

We now offer a propane fireplace burner section in our e-store.  You can add various decorative topping materials to the pan, such as FireBalls, FireStones or FireGlass.  When using FireGlass in the pan, you would not use the “pan filler material” that comes with the pan burner.


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101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life

On a side note, I recently co-authored a book that is going to print in a couple weeks.  It should be an interesting read.  I am not sure how many (and which) distributors will carry it at this time.  I’ll keep you posted as I find out.  This is the front cover.

 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life


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A Catalog is Coming

We are in process of creating a 40-50 page catalog and hope to be done in a couple months.  This will be a great way for people to order that are not too fond of using the Internet.  There will be a fax sheet for those that want to fax in orders.  Orders may still be called in as they are right now.

I will write a new post when the catalog is available.

Carl Herkes

Update: I’m sorry to report that the catalog project is at a stand-still. There have been too many pressing things getting in the way of it. I will post another update when completion of the catalog is within sight.

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