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My new gas fireplace looks remarkably realistic! I'm curious what the "glowing embers" are made of. I have found replacement sets, but I've been having a hard time figuring out what materials compose these fake embers. One description on a similar set suggests some type of ceramic material, however, I'm curious what technology goes into these rocks.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Originally (back in the old days), they (like gas grills) used volcanic rock aka lava rock.

Several current vendors use a mixture of rockwool fiber material and vermiculite. Others list sand and vermiculite.

Having them on the bottom helps diffuse the gas (by scattering the gas as it rises, so you don't see jets of gas). The glowing aspects is a nice side benefit.

The newer 'glass' bead gas outdoor fire pits do a similar diffusion and look good when not in use (not so much for vermiculite and rockwool, which look 'ashy' (on purpose)).

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Interesting. So is it the lava rock that gets the nice glowing around the edges, or is that clumped rockwool fiber? – David Cowden Dec 23 '13 at 15:19
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I think the lava rock is just a disperser. The vermiculite and rock wool 'glow' – HerrBag Dec 23 '13 at 15:28

Grate Fires coals artificial coals are made in Liverpool, England, of ceramic fiber strand material. This is the same material painted on the outside of the space shuttle, to keep it from burning up, upon reentry of our atmosphere.

Vermiculite is used in the vented units, to:

  1. Keep the burner and valves clean and
  2. Make the flames "dance" more life like.
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