You know those scenes when everyone is snuggled around a cozy fire? We look forward to winter so we can make more memories by the fire, but it can feel like forever until the cold season comes. We don’t need to wait until winter to cozy up with a fire. Chimineas are outdoor fireplaces that can also keep you toasty on those long summer nights.
Chimineas aren’t a modern invention. They’ve been around for over 400 years, originating in Spain and Mexico.
They’re also used for cooking as well as keeping warm, and you can use them during the winter in temperate areas. This guide will help you choose the right one and help you start using it.
Why Use a Chiminea?
If your primary goal is to heat your patio, you might have come across fire bowls when searching for options. These don’t offer the same effects as chimineas do.
That’s because chimineas work by drawing air through the mouth and out of the funnel. As the temperature of the funnel rises, the airspeed increases, meaning you burn less fuel and get a nice, hot fire. It’s an efficient design for people looking for cost-effective heat. Fire bowls are nice to look at, they don’t give you the same heat intensity.
Chimineas look lovely in your yard as they can add a rustic or modern touch, depending on the style you choose. They are also better for the environment than some other wood-burning units. They’re often built out of organic materials, rather than plastic or metals, and if you look after them, you can have them for years!
They also burn hot and efficiently, using less wood and creating less smoke than some other wood-burning appliances.
How to Choose a Chiminea
The first step in using your chiminea is picking the right one for your needs. Do you plan to cook in it? Look for one that accommodates cooking accessories. Plan on using it in cooler weather? Choose a material that won’t crack, such as steel. Want to gather around it as a family on cool nights? Find one that is open all the way around.
There are a few different options when it comes to materials and designs. These include:
Chimineas were originally made from clay and can also be found in steel or cast iron. Within the traditional category, there are a variety of designs, with colors ranging from black to white and shapes that are extremely round to quite angular.
The traditional chimineas have charm, but if you are looking for something more stylish there are also modern designs. They’re available in conical, pyramid, and elliptical shapes, which makes them ideal for modern spaces. They come in the same materials, but often with different finishes from traditional styles.
Questions to Ask Yourself
It’s always good to ask yourself a few questions before making a purchase, as everyone has different needs and requirements.
Here’s a list of common questions to ask yourself when buying a chiminea:
- How big is your outdoor area?
- Do you have children or pets? If so, select a unit with added safety features.
- What is your budget?
- What size of chiminea do you need?
- Do you want clay or metal? The care requirements can vary.
- Do you want to cook in your chiminea? Select one with cooking features.
Best Options for Buying a Chiminea
Before you make an investment and buy a chiminea, it helps to do a bit of preparation.
The internet is full of online marketplaces and it can be overwhelming narrowing down your search to find the right one. As their popularity rises, chimineas have become more in demand. That means more buying options for you.
The first place to look for chimineas is your local homeware store. Usually, you can find a selection of both traditional and modern chimineas. They’re quite popular in many parts of the country. Shopping in person lets you touch and check out the unit before buying. You can get a real feel for the size and construction.
You can also check out online stores, but keep in mind that you might not verify the construction, size, and dimensions online. Shipping costs can also be prohibitive. Look around for a good deal and make sure the company provides a warranty on its products.
Even though you might not buy your selection online, browse the internet to check out the reviews on that particular unit. This is a brilliant way to help you decide on the best chiminea.
Setting up Your Chiminea
Once you’ve picked your design, it’s time to set it up.
Pick a Location
The most important part of setting up your chiminea is making sure the location is right. You want to ensure that the chiminea isn’t close to any grass or other plant life to avoid causing a fire. It’s also best to avoid areas that have overhanging branches or leaves. A 10-foot clearance around the perimeter and nothing overhead is perfect.
Ideally, you want to place the chiminea on a flat surface that is either concrete or patio. That way, there isn’t much nearby to catch on fire accidentally. A flat gravel or sand surface works well, too. Avoid hilly areas or soil that can turn muddy in the rain.
Cure Your Chiminea
Curing your chiminea is a simple process, but it’s also essential, so don’t skip it. To cure your chiminea means lighting a couple of small fires before long-term use. This prevents material like steel or cast iron from cracking and getting damaged.
You can also place some gravel stones and sand on the bottom of the chiminea for extra protection before lighting your first fire.
Most manufacturers will include directions on how to cure your new appliance, so be sure to follow their advice. If you don’t have instructions, the general process involves rolling up a few balls of newspaper and lighting them. Let those go out. Let the chiminea cool, then light another fire with small pieces of kindling. Let these go out and allow the chiminea to cool again.
Repeat this last step with the kindling fire two more times. Now you’re ready to use your appliance.
Building a Fire
After you have cured the chiminea, all you need to do is light your fire!
Thankfully, even if you are not experienced with lighting fires, there are plenty of products available nowadays that make it quick and simple to get a cozy fire burning. You can pick use fire logs, fire gel, and fire starters.
To build a fire, place a layer of shredded wood or balled-up newspaper in the base of the chiminea. Place a few pieces of small kindling in a tent shape above the newspaper. Light the newspaper and allow it to burn. once the kindling has caught and is smoldering, place slightly larger pieces of kindling on the fire.
Once you have a healthy little fire going, you can add larger pieces of wood.
If you keep a woodpile in your yard to feed your chiminea, you might want to check our guide on maintaining your woodpile.
Cleaning Your Chiminea
You want to be able to use your chiminea for years to come and to do that you’ll need to maintain it.
First, never use water when you put the fire out. Instead, let it die down naturally. It’s much better for your chiminea and it retains that delicious fire-burning smell that we all love. Cold water can cause cracking.
Then, you just need to clear the ash and wood pieces from the pit and place a lid over it.
Cover the chiminea with a lid and a waterproof cover or take it inside during the winter. If you leave it outside during the winter you run the risk of rusting or weather damage.
Cooking with Chimineas
As well as being practical and useful for keeping you hot during cold evenings, chimineas have other wonderful benefits that will enhance your life.
If you opt for a clay chiminea, it is a natural resource that does not harm the environment. If you are passionate about sustainable living then chimineas will suit your lifestyle perfectly.
Another great benefit is that you can recycle the ash. Did you know that the residue leftover from wood-burning chimineas can be used to fertilize your plants? Well, it can!
As chimineas are traditionally used for heating as well as cooking, you can also experiment with barbequing on them. All you need is a grill feature and then you can make some delicious food on it!
If you do not own one already, you can easily buy a grill online.
Using a Chiminea in Winter
While chimineas are made to be used in warm, dry weather, don’t let that put you off of using them in the winter. If you live in a temperate area, buy a waterproof cover and keep your chiminea covered whenever it is raining or snowing.
On mild days, remove the cover and light a fire as you normally would, except you want to be sure to build up the heat more slowly than you do in the summer. Too much heat too rapidly can crack the bowl.
Allow the chiminea to cool completely after the fires goes out before covering.