In this paper, we report a simple growth of carbon nanofibers by means of the combustion of ethyl alcohol. In our experiment, copper plate was employed as substrate, iron nitrate and iron chloride as catalyst precursor and ethanol as carbon source. The as-grown carbon nanofibers were characterized by employing scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, high-resolution field-emission transmission electron microscopy and Reinshaw optical confocal Raman spectroscopy. Our results suggested that it would tend to form relatively uniform nanofibers when the catalyst precursor was iron nitrate, however, to form some helical structure nanofibers when the catalyst precursor was iron chloride. The sample using iron chloride as the catalyst precursor has a higher graphitization degree than that using iron nitrate as the catalyst precursor.