I've recently been cooking and using Sterno to keep things warm - or cook. However, from time to time I need to stir, scoop, or manipulate the Sterno in some way. Is it safe to rinse off my utensils, which have come in contact with Jelled Cooking fuel, in a kitchen sink?


Sterno is gelled denatured alcohol. It is denatured alcohol (a combination of methanol and ethanol) so that you can't, safely, drink it, but it is still mostly alcohol, which will dissolve in water and clean up just fine.

While I wouldn't dump a lot of it down the sink, you should have no problem with cleanup. And while Sterno isn't safe to drink, it won't be a problem if you touch it in cleaning up.

I just double checked the Sterno site and they confirm water cleanup and say, additionally, that it is biodegradable.

  • Be careful with this in more official, controlled contexts, or if you're disposing in large quantities. The MSDS's for all of the various fuels can be found at sternopro.com/sds. Each MSDS contains a section on disposal. The ethanol gel, Safe Heat, and Hot Spot sheets all say "Must not be disposed together with household garbage. Do not allow product to reach sewage system." Realistically, for casual situations, I'd interpret that to mean sufficiently diluting or otherwise neutralizing the product before it reaches the sewage system satisfies that recommendation. – Jason C Feb 10 '17 at 2:29

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