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The fuel often contains methanol, ethanol, or diethylene glycol, as these may be burned safely indoors, and produce minimal soot or odor. These fuels are also used for emergency heating, outdoor cooking, and fondue.
Types of fuel
The first two fuels are similar with regards to consistency, both having a gel form (viscosities can vary with brand), operating procedures, and product design. Ethanol is a more energetic fuel giving 1300kJ/mol heat of combustion compared to methanol’s 726kJ/mol. The common gel methanol or ethanol chafing fuel is contained in a steel can with a resealable plug lid in sizes based on burn times. Two, four, and six-hour burn times are the most common sizes of methanol and ethanol chafing fuels available. The colour of the fuel being used can also vary among manufacturers.
Both ethanol and methanol have low flash points, 11–17 °C, making them highly flammable; diethylene glycol, with a flash point of 154 °C, is considered safer because spilled DEG fuel will not combust; it needs a wick to burn. The fuel is in a liquid form and thus the canister in which it is contained usually differs by having a more leak resistant screw cap rather than a plug. DEG has a higher heat of combustion than ethanol or methanol gel at 2155 kJ/mol. 
As a camping fuel
There are many advantages and disadvantages to using chafing fuels for camping purposes. The lightweight size and the burn time per gram of fuel weight received from this method is very high. Chafing fuels are also clean burning, quiet, safer, and readily available than most other portable heat sources. However their main disadvantage is their lower heat output when compared to popular alternatives such as white gas and kerosene. This results in longer cooking times.