A chiminea is a great feature to have in any backyard. It keeps you warm on a cold night and creates a great ambience just having it glowing and crackling even if you are alone or having friends around for company. It also adds an interesting art piece to your yard and is always a conversation starter. There are loads to choose from – this article will look at all the points you should take into consideration before you buy yours.
What Is A Chiminea?
The word chiminea is derived from the spanish word for chimney. Originally made from clay, this small stove like appliance with a short vertical chimney originates from Spain and then introduced to Mexico. These were tradionally used everyday for cooking and heating and were used inside the homes or huts and placed near a window or vented out through the roof to let the smoke out.
What Features Should I Look For In A Chiminea?
Tradionally made from clay they are now available in cast iron, steel, aluminium and copper. Clay is the most fragile of the pick, but in recent years it has additives added to make it less brittle than they used to be made years ago when they were fashioned from a lump of clay from the ground and left to dry in the sun.
The best clay chimineas are usually made from El Barro or Terracotta clay and are kiln dried – beware of cheap clay chimineas as they will not have had the same high quality clay used or have thorough quality inspections before being made available for sale.
Things to look out for with clay chimineas are thin sections of clay prone to cracking – although these are not very easy to determine just by looking at if they are thin or not. Good legs are another point to consider for stability and safety. Positive owner reviews can also be beneficial for determining the quality of a clay chiminea.
Metal chimineas are much more durable and can withstand moving around much more than clay types. Some metal chimineas are better than others though with cast iron being the most brittle metal than cast aluminium with steel and brass being the most durable and can withstand the most heavy handed treatment and will only dinge or dent rather than crack or smash.
Size Of Chiminea
The size of your chiminea is an important point to consider as the larger the chiminea the more heat it can generate. This can cause issues for clay models as the higher heat will elevate the risk of cracking so i would advise caution if you are looking for a large chiminea – it may be advisable to stick with steel for these larger models.
The other point to be aware of is the size of the fire box and width of the door to it. This will be important as your firewood will need to be cut to fit through the door and inside the grate.
The other point to consider is if it will be used for small or large groups to sit around in which case a small one will do for small groups and a larger one may be better for large groups or if are using it to cook on – how much do you intend to cook at any one time.
As chimineas have burning fires inside they have important safety points which should be followed to prevent accidents happening when in use.
Children and pets can be very curious and unaware of the dangers fires present. As chimineas have enclosed backs and bases the visual danger of a bright fire is not immediately obvious and can lead to nasty burns to unsuspecting visitors to the rear or even underneath.
The chimney can also be a part which people forget will be hot – these points should be taken into consideration when placing your chiminea – especially as they are usually in communinal areas.
The fixing of the chimney pipe is an important part of chiminea safety. Metal chimineas should have their chimneys fastened securely with bolts or welds and clay chimney pipes should be well made and not appear spindly or too long or top heavy appearing as though it could topple over in strong winds.
Legs should also be taken into consideration and should be almost as wide as the bottom of the fire box to provide a secure wide stance able to withstand a full load of firewood and at the same time hold the chiminea in place when empty in high winds.
Chiminea Important Points
Chimneas should only be placed onto a non combustible base – never onto wood as escaping embers or very hot legs can ignite the base and quickly escalate into a blazing inferno.
Select a suitable location for the chiminea to sit, where you can limit the dangers of children and pets accidentally stumbling onto or against the hot body. Ensure the paved area where the chiminea is placed is not slippery with moss or other organic growth – recommended cleaners.
Hardwood is recommended as the fuel of choice for most chimineas, it will burn longer and at a lower temperature than most other fuels.
Clay chimineas will need to be re sealed on the outside every year to protect it from the elements, internally it may have be painted with a fireproof paint – usually the inside does not need maintained.
Cast iron and clay chimineas are better kept indoors in frosty weather as they are prone to cracking – especially if they are sitting with water inside them.
If you have a waterproof cover for your outdoor chiminea it is better to keep it covered – this will prevent corrosion on the metal versions and prevent absorbsion of water in the clay types.
There are optional extras which can be added to the basic chiminea or may come along with it which you should be aware of- they include:
- A grate to set your fire on rather than letting it sit on the base of the chiminea it will hold it up aiding airflow and cleaning out ashes.
- A mesh door to prevent hot embers and sparking ash coming out the opening of the chiminea – always a good idea if you are in a very windy location.
- A rack for cooking food on- some chimineas will offer the option of having a rack to cook food on – this can be a fixed item or something which can be inserted and removed at your convenience.
- Spark arrestor – a spark inhibitor or arrestor is a device which can be fitted into the chimney section of you chiminea which prevents glowing hot embers coming out of your chimney, which can happen if a sudden gust of wind blows in the door of your chimney – this can be alarming and dangerous if you are seated nearby and dont see them blowing into the air and they fall onto you.
Efficient Draughting – burns cleanly
Large Fire Box – 18″ to 20″ logs
Complete With All Extras
This one of the best, most beautifully made chimineas i have even seen, Blue Rooster are the leaders when it comes to buying a cast aluminium chiminea.
This model features a decorative design and a host of extras such as Mouth Screen, Grilling Insert, Rain Lid, Carry Handles, Neck Spark Screen, Screen/Wood Tool.
This chiminea will last for a very long time and will provide many hours of use -complete with admiring gazes from all who enjoy its warmth and beautiful design. View this model on Amazon for more details.
Large Fire Box- 18″ to 20″ full size logs.
Efficient Drafting – easy to light and burns cleanly.
Extras Included – Mouth Screen, Rain Lid, Grilling Insert, Spark Arrestor, Carry Handles, Wood Tool.
This is a beast of a chiminea – perfect for large gatherings and awesome to look at. This is one of the biggest available and will impress all who see it. As it is cast iron be prepared for the black paint to burn off and show its rusty brown iron underside – but this is not a deterrent – many prefer the true beauty of cast iron chimineas. Many clay chiminenas may only last for a couple of years – this thing will last ten times that! Read customer reviews on Amazon
Designer embossed cast iron construction
Full 360 degree view of fire with fine wire mesh spark screen
Large sliding door for adding fuel and an ash catcher for easy cleanup
This is one of the most popular chimineas on Amazon, it offers a reasonable build quality and its 360 degree view of the fire is very popular.
It is not an “amazing” chiminea but it does provide the cosy centre piece just like the other two above at half the price. Click here for more info on Amazon
Efficient Draughting – burns cleanly
Large Fire Box – 18″ to 20″ logs
Complete With All Extras
This is another well made chiminea from Blue Rooster except this one has a more plain design, which some may prefer. It includes all the extras needed and as its made from cast aluminium it will be easy to move around and wont rust. Great addition to any patio space! See the product detail page on Amazon
Sturdy- low centre of gravity.
360 degrees viewing.
Comes with waterproof cover.
Beautiful! This is the little cast iron chiminea from Better Homes and features a unique design in cast iron construction. This comes with its own cover if it needs to be kept outside on the wet days. It has a hinged door and a large fire box which can accommodate logs up to 12″. This product offers really good value for money – as some say – “You wouldn’t make it for that price!” Read customers reviews for this on Amazon
As you can see i haven’t included any clay chimineas – for the high price some clay chimineas sell for they just don’t represent a good purchase compared to the ones i have listed – i couldn’t give them the title of “Best Chiminea”
I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful – please comment if you would like me to review anything not on my site…thanks.