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How To Use Chafing Gel

It’s no surprise that catering professionals and campers use chafing fuels at buffets, events, and trips/expeditions, chafing fuels offer several distinct advantages, with convenience and low cost at the very top of the list. In this quick guide, we’re going to give you the basics of the different types of chafing fuels as well as general instructions on how they should be used.

While the following instructions given here can be applied to any installation, they’re still only general guidelines. Consider that every manufacturer is different, please read the instructions and how-to documents attached to your equipment – there may be small details that you need to be aware of.

Chafing Fuel: The Basics

Generally speaking, there are three types of chafing fuel:

- Methanol
- Ethanol
- Diethylene Glycol

These fuels work particularly well for chafing, as they are safe, and burn cleanly. The difference between diethylene glycol and methanol/ethanol varieties is that the former is inflammable – this means that accidental spillages won’t result in combustion. Because the fuel is in liquid form, the canister is built to be leak-resistant.

Remember, chafing fuels are not designed to cook but rather maintain temperature. If you do need to ‘cook’, do so with foods that don’t require long cooking times or high temperatures.

Step 1: Preparing the Chafing Dish
The first thing you want to do is prepare the chafing dish for the chafing fuel canister. Always place it on a flat and stable surface. To cut down on overall wait time, it’s a good idea to fill the chafing dish with piping hot water. This will ‘pre-heat’ the dish ready for use.

Step 2: Open the Fuel Container
When you’re opening the seal on the chafing fuel container, remember to do so carefully and with a dash of patience. You don’t want to damage the unit prior to use. Opening the can incorrectly may cause fuel spillage.

Step 3: Lighting the Fuel
The chafing fuel must be lit when it’s in its final position. In other words, don’t light before you put it in the chafing dish. This of course means you should also never light the can whilst holding it. Just like with any other flame or fuel, keep it away from other flammable items.

You should never light the chafing fuel using a short lighter or match – for safety’s sake, stick to long lighters. Some even use rolled up paper – don’t do this!

Step 4: Time for the Food!
Next, the food dish should be placed on the chafing dish. To reduce heat loss, keep the unit’s lid closed whenever possible. Just remember to check the temperature on a regular basis to make sure everything is running as expected.

Step 5: Adjust the Flame Strength
The damper allows you to change the strength of the flame as necessary. It may take you a couple of times to get it just right for your particular unit.

Step 6: Wrapping It Up
Extinguish the flame properly and once you’re done, dispose of the cans safely.

Additional Instructions for Ethanol/Methanol Gel
If you’ve opted to purchase a gel-based chafing fuel, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind:

- Be extra careful, as the flame is only lightly visible.
- Opt for a blunt rather than sharp object to open the can. Do not use a knife, for example.
- If there is any excess gel, clean and remove it carefully. Never use your fingers or clothing.
- Handle a lit can with care, as it may be hot.
- The flame should be extinguished using a saucer or lid.

Finally, Always Keep Safety in Mind!
As with any flammable object, operate with care. Even though chafing fuel is generally very low-risk, don’t take that to mean that safety instructions can be ignored. Follow both these general rules as well as the manufacturer guidelines and you should be just fine.

Find this interesting? Check out these other blogs:
Pizza By The Slice
How To Keep Buffet Food Fresh
How To Get A 5 Star Rating With Jantex

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