Did you know that…?


By Coval’s Team

| February 28, 2023

With the right fuel, fire can provide warmth to keep us warm in cold weather and comfort our hearts with its presence. However, not all flames are the same. Indeed, what burns also affects the type of fire that is produced. In this article, we will explore how different types of fuel affect the shape, colour and intensity of the flames they produce and try to demystify the different fires.


The fuel affects the appearance of the flames and the power of it. From one source to another, we will have a hotter or colder, orange or bluish result, etc. Burning wood, coal, paper and other organic materials produces flames that look different from burning oil or gas.


What kind of flame is produced when you burn organic materials like wood? When burning charcoal, paper and other so-called organic materials, the flame will appear yellow or orange in colour with an irregular, dancing shape. These flames are the typical image that can come to mind when imagining fire. These fuels burn slowly and provide even heat. Ultimately, wood produces more subtle shimmers than their oil and gas counterparts, making it ideal for creating a soothing atmosphere. As a bonus, we get a comforting sound effect.


The smoke that is emitted by the combustion of wood is itself composed of materials that can be burned? Certified appliances burn these gases multiple times, making them efficient and energy efficient.

Charcoal flames tend to be longer lasting than wood because the carbon concentration is higher. Paper flames burn quickly and brightly for a short time. Great for starting fires, but definitely not for heating needs!

What might be new to most of us is wood pellets. Made from compressed wood residues, this fuel recycles waste from the forest industry. Conveniently packaged in bags for easy transport and storage, this convenient fuel is becoming increasingly popular. However, what type of flame is produced by the pellets? The answer is a bright and powerful combustion. Yellow and orange, the flames are regular and concentrated in a single entity. Being able to be electronically optimized in a very precise way, pellet stoves are among the most efficient appliances on the market.


When burning oil or gas, the flames will be blue in colour with a stable shape. These products, with their high energy content, burn at very high temperatures for intense heat. This is why it is important to be extra careful, especially when using gas indoors. Always seek the services of professionals when installing and servicing your gas appliances.

There are mainly two types of gas used: natural gas (NG) and liquefied propane (LP). Both have a clean blue flame with a high energy content in BTUs (a unit of measure of energy produced), making them efficient and economical to burn. Both fuels are basically odourless and non-toxic. The natural gas flame is stable, flicker-free and powerful, making it ideal for heating large areas or for cooking.



Coal is a black sedimentary rock composed mainly of carbon. The coal found in mines is formed from organic matter under pressure over millions of years. It is therefore not a renewable source of energy. “Charcoal is the carbon that remains after water and other volatile compounds have been burned from the wood in a low-oxygen environment.”[1]

On the other hand, liquefied propane burns hotter and faster than natural gas, making it ideal for grilling outdoors. Its flame also flickers, which adds a comforting aesthetic. Overall, both fuel sources are used for different applications, but offer unique benefits depending on the situation.

Although the gas flame is associated with the colour blue, it is possible to obtain yellow and orange flames, as in a fireplace. Depending on the need of the appliance using the gas, engineers influence the gas pressure level as well as the combustion air ratio to achieve different results. For cooking appliances, we look for blue flames, i.e. those that are very hot and with high pressure. If your flame is yellow, it means that the pressure is lower, the heat is less powerful and the air ratio is low. In the case of a fireplace, that’s great. For a stove or barbecue, that means there is a problem.

Did you know that…?

“Once natural gas is extracted from the ground, it must be combined with crude oil to obtain the fuel we use every day. During this process, propane, butane and ethane are extracted. […] Propane can also be a byproduct of crude oil refining.” [2]

In conclusion, fuel sources have different characteristics that make them suitable for various applications. Organic materials like wood produce the famous charming, crackling flames that we all love. Gas, natural or propane, creates superb bluish flames, practical and powerful. Ultimately, when choosing the right fuel source for your needs, there are factors like colour, brightness, horsepower and more that need to be considered. With careful selection, it can be easy to find the perfect fuel for your tastes, values and needs.


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