Chimineas are charming, hand-decorated terracotta outdoor fireplaces you can buy at patio stores, markets, and tourist sites in Mexico and Western states. In some cases, people use chimineas as patio art to impart a rustic or Southwestern look to their patio. Still, others have used them as a functional fire feature in their outdoor spaces.d for hundreds of years and are much more than just decorative accent pieces.
A clay chiminea is typically shaped like a wide-bottomed vase, with a narrow vertical chimney through which smoke is directed and a wide opening on the sides for the firepit to burn. Despite its design, the chiminea can be used in the rain without the flame being extinguished. A chiminea works the same way as an old-fashioned potbelly stove, a wood-burning stove made of cast iron. Throughout Eastern Europe, a similar type of stove called a Kotao is used for cooking many of the most popular dishes. On this type of stove, large round frying pans are usually used for cooking the dishes.
In contrast to a large, open fire pit, a chiminea has an enclosed structure. Various aromatic woods, such as cedar, hickory, mesquite, and pinon wood, are popular choices that cause smoke to rise and spread upwards. Chimineas become wholly burnt after only 15 minutes of being ignited, releasing a significant amount of heat at the same time. Using any wood-burning fireplace or fire pit, you can control the fire just like you would with any other.
What To Look For Before You Buy
The next time you're eyeing that chiminea online, don't get carried away by the colorful painted flowers and Spanish motifs. Before you purchase a chiminea, make sure you research and decide where it will be located on the property. You will need to take into consideration the following factors.
Overall Shape And Design:
Does it look like it is crooked or misshapen in any way? Would it be twisted or distorted if it was corrupt?
Aside from clay and terracotta, chimineas can also be made from copper, cast iron, steel (such as the vintage-inspired ModFire collection), or cast aluminum.
Is there enough space in the fire pit to accommodate standard-sized pieces of firewood? Otherwise, you will have to chop the wood yourself or order chips, chunks, or even smaller pieces if you don't have a chopping block.
If you reside in a zone that prohibits wood-burning fireplaces indoors and outdoors, how would you do that? If you are in the market for a chiminea, you ought to find one powered by gas or propane.
Where To Put A Chiminea
As a safety precaution, it is a good idea to place the chiminea in an area where you can see the flames from within your home when it is lit. Patios, decks, and courtyards are clear examples of outdoor spaces, which are the most popular. It is advisable to place chimneys where the predominant wind patterns carry the smoke away from the house. Consequently, a chiminea must be installed vertically to ensure that it functions appropriately and its funnel-like chimney correctly. The chimney has been placed so that soot can accumulate inside the fireplace.
For a chimney to work correctly, it must be placed on a suitable surface. There are a variety of patio materials available, such as concrete, brick, or stone, all of which are fire-safe. It is recommended that you place fire-safe pavers over a small area if you have a wood deck or terrace so that they can act as a hearth or platform beneath the wood. A chimney should be placed on the home and should not be placed beneath any eaves or roofs or anything else that would put them at risk of catching fire.
What Is A Patio Hearth?
You can place a chiminea on a wood patio or deck by installing a patio hearth, which creates a fire-safe area. Most fireproof terraces are made by covering a 3-by-4-foot area with pavers, bricks, or other fireproof materials.
It is ideal for the wood in your chiminea to burn down to ash when the wood in your chiminea burns down to ash. You can douse the flames with buckets of water or douse the low embers by using a shovel (not a garden trowel) and turning the sand/gravel mixture at the bottom of the pit.
Caring For Your Chiminea
Generally, Chimineas are made from clay and are usually glazed with low-fire glazes or just painted. In addition to their heavy construction, they are prone to cracking over time because of their heavy construction. You should apply an acrylic finish or sealer to your new chiminea before using it, and you should reapply it every six to eight weeks during the season you plan to use it. Using an acrylic finish on your outdoor fireplace, you will be able to protect it from water and moisture. The water and steam will soften the clay due to the humidity. In this sense, it's good to get a chiminea cover to protect the chiminea from cracking and eventually falling apart over time. If the weather turns wet (or worse), it is good to store the chiminea in a shed, basement, or garage, along with other patio furniture.
It is recommended to fill the bottom of the fire pit with sand, lava rock, fire glass, or pea gravel to help clean out the ashes after the fire. If you want to return the sand-ash mixture to the pit, you can put it in a bucket, hose it off, allow it to dry, and then place it back into the hole. Alternately, you may also be able to clean the fireplace by raking out the ashes and turning over the sand or gravel in the chiminea.
Concerned About Burning Wood?
I am pleased to announce that the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (HPBA) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have partnered up to create volunteer woodstove changeout programs. If you search on the Internet, you will find if there is one near you.
As part of an effort to improve air quality in the United States, the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (HPBA) have partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop volunteer woodstove changeout programs throughout the country1. You can find out if there is a changeout and incentive program near you by clicking here.
The Pros And Cons
Pros And Cons Of A Cast-Iron Chiminea
Cast iron chimneys are among the most robust and durable vents available. The result is that they do not easily break or crack, and they can produce high heat levels for many years to come. To maintain the appearance of their "as good as new," they are easy to maintain and can be painted with fire-resistant paint if necessary. Cast-iron chimineas are made of cast iron and come in a wide range of sizes and shapes in addition to their attractive designs.
Because they get so hot, it is essential to avoid touching them and to keep children under close supervision, especially if there is no protective screen around them.
Because they get so hot that it is essential not to touch them, and children must be closely supervised because they can get hurt. It is also challenging to move them without a trolley, though this can be overcome by using one.
Pros And Cons Of A Clay Chiminea
Traditionalists may prefer clay for its "authentic" appearance and the fact that it can be designed in various ways, which allows it to provide a unique appearance. There is no doubt that each clay chiminea is a unique piece of art; despite their traditional shape being the same, each one has been handcrafted, and its decorative design is a product of its manufacturer, just like any other unique item.
Despite their beauty, children must be closely supervised because they get so hot. They are relatively easy to repair and repaint, but they are much more fragile and do not last as long as their cast-iron counterparts. Clay chimineas that are larger are challenging to move because they can be damaged during transportation.
How Do I Set Up A Cast-Iron Chiminea?
There should be no chance of a cast iron chiminea tipping over if the base is flat, solid, level, and free from potential obstacles. On your patio or deck, you should install your chiminea on fire- and heat-resistant surfaces such as pavers, concrete, bricks, or other protective bases large enough to catch any hot ash or coals that may fall out of the chiminea as it is opened.
Keep it far enough away from anything that could catch fire, such as buildings, tree branches, bushes, fences, sheds, etc. To prevent your children from burning themselves while playing around the chiminea, you should place a screen around it and ensure they are always supervised. When buying cast-iron models, please remember that they may need to be assembled, so remember this when making your purchase. It is desirable to carefully read the assembly instructions before beginning the assembly process to ensure a successful outcome as a precautionary measure. If you ever have to perform repairs or maintenance on the system, you should keep the instructions handy.
In cold weather, you will gain more heat from a fire if you gradually build it up instead of starting a big fire that may cause damage to your home. It is not recommended that you create a bonfire around a chimney because they are designed to burn small amounts of charcoal and wood. It is imperative not to use gasoline or any other flammable liquid to avoid an explosion to start the fire.
Ensure you have heat-resistant gloves and fireplace tools nearby if you are adding logs to the fire or cooking food in the chiminea. There is a general rule of thumb that you should not use water to extinguish a chiminea fire, except in extreme emergency cases. Because metal expands and contracts when it is heated, there is a possibility that a small shock could be enough to cause it to crack once it is cooled down with water. When extinguishing a fire with water, you will need to be sure that the chiminea is completely dry before covering it or leaving it out. You must make sure that it is scorched before reusing it.
To prevent your chiminea from rusting, you should cover it when not in use. It is possible to choose from a wide range of custom covers on the market to find one in the color and thickness of your choice. Don't forget to let the surface cool completely before covering it up!
Even though cast iron is very resistant to temperature changes due to its hardness, extreme cold, ice, or frost can cause thermal shocks and crack due to its hardness. For this reason, you should try to cover your chiminea with a unique cover, or, if the weather is exceptionally severe, you should store it in a shed.
How Do I Set Up A Clay Chiminea?
Chimneys must be installed on a solid, level surface where they can't fall over and where their entire base is supported to prevent unequal pressure from causing cracks. The most important thing to remember is to ensure the ground beneath your chiminea is protected from fire and heat, especially if you intend to place it on a patio or deck. As a precaution against the possibility of a fireplace catching on fire, it is recommended that the chimney be placed at least three feet away from anything that can catch on fire, such as buildings, tree branches, bushes, fences, sheds, etc.
Usually, clay chimineas need to be cured before chimineas can use them. Even though the chimineas are of the highest quality, this is true. The process starts by making a small fire within the chiminea, letting it burn for an hour or so, then gradually increasing the fire and allowing it to burn completely, cool down, and finally cleaning it. In some cases, it may be necessary to repeat this process one or two times until the clay has hardened sufficiently to be used in entertainment or cooking. Clay chimineas must be protected from direct contact with the fire on the bottom to avoid direct contact with the fire. The easiest way is to place a layer of river sand (play sand), pea gravel, or pumice stones at the bottom of your bathtub or shower.
Building a fire slowly and increasing the heat in steps during cold weather is crucial, rather than using a large fire that suddenly heats the chiminea. Chiminea should note that Chimineas are designed to burn small amounts of wood, and therefore an inferno will not work since it isn't designed to burn large quantities of wood. To start the fire, do not use gasoline or other flammable liquids because you may cause an explosion or flare, which can cause serious injury. The clay will also absorb liquids, which can damage your chiminea if the clay absorbs too much liquid.
Be sure you remove the lid before lighting a fire and have a pair of heat-resistant gloves and fireplace tools ready before adding logs or if you intend to cook food within the chiminea. It is important to note that the only time you should use water to extinguish a chiminea fire is in an emergency. If you are a clay chiminea owner, it is almost certain that you will need to dispose of your chiminea at some point. A rapid drop in temperature will cause the clay to crack due to the sudden drop in temperature, and the rapid decline in temperature will cause the water to soften the clay. Whenever you use your chiminea, you should thoroughly dry it before using it, and you should build up the heat slowly so that any excess moisture is burned off.
If you want to ensure that your chiminea is protected from the weather and accidental damage, it is advisable to cover it when it is not in use. It is possible to find insulated covers in various colors and thicknesses on the market, so you will be able to pick out one according to your preferences. The only thing you need to do is make sure that the device is wholly cooled before covering it. It can damage the clay if it is exposed to freezing temperatures. We want to advise you that this may happen even if a unique cover has been placed on the chiminea. If this happens, we suggest that you store it away in a shed. It is good not to hold it directly on the ground or floor surface during such times. You should make sure to keep the chiminea away from water or direct contact with moisture, and you should allow them to breathe freely under the chiminea by placing them on pieces of wood.
How Do I Easily Maintain My Cast-Iron Chiminea?
To protect cast-iron Chimineas from corrosion, lightly coat the outside with cooking oil and then "burn it on" at high heat. In most cases, the only thing that needs to be done to maintain your chiminea is to wipe it lightly with a cloth dipped in vegetable oil before and after use.
In addition to regularly cleaning the interior, you do not have to worry about a protective coating. The brick is usually protected against corrosion due to creosote, which develops inside the brick and protects it from rusting. When storing bricks, make sure that the inside of the container does not get wet due to the soot, creosote, and soot that is usually accumulating on the inside of the brick. Keeping this in mind is a significant factor to remember. The first thing you need to do when lighting a fire is to wipe the fire dry and burn off any excess moisture before increasing the size of the fire. To get rid of rust marks as soon as they appear, use a fine wire brush or steel wool to scrub them. If the surface of the chiminea needs to be lightly sanded before cleaning it and painting it with heat- and fire-resistant paint, it is advisable to smooth the surface lightly.
How Do I Easily Maintain My Clay Chiminea?
One of the biggest enemies of clay chimineas is water. If you want to prevent moisture from getting into a clay chiminea, you should seal the outside with a waterproof sealant. Depending on where you place your chiminea and whether you keep it covered, sealants could last three to six months on average.
Whenever you apply a new coat of sealant, make sure that the surface is dry and clean before doing so. The adhesive can be used with a brush or sprayed on thin layers. The clay will become more susceptible to cracking and freezing if moisture is absorbed by it. It is best to protect your clay chiminea from water, frost, and freezing temperatures by using a well-insulated cover or storing it away when adverse conditions are present.
The bottom of your chiminea should be rinsed with water at least once or twice every few months, depending on how often you use it. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly and then spread it again in a thin layer on the bottom of the chiminea. Replacing the sand, gravel, or stones will be necessary if it has become filthy or if particles cannot be washed out.
Cracks should be inspected regularly on the body, the neck, and the chimney. Smoke can leak from more minor cracks, whereas larger cracks can lead to structural weakness and collapse of the fireplace.
How Do I Repair Cracks In My Clay Chiminea?
Generally, this is a job best left to the experts, but if you are an accomplished do-it-yourselfer and believe the chiminea is still safe to use, you may attempt the following:
Clean the cracks properly by brushing them out and removing loose clay pieces.
The surface of the cracked area should be sanded with medium-grit sandpaper to remove all the old sealants or paint.
Ensure that the material you are using to fill the crack will adequately adhere to the surface to fill the gap.
It is essential that you only use a material resistant to high temperatures and is fireproof to fill in the cracks. For example, some types of high-temperature automotive repair putty, high-temperature epoxy adhesive, epoxy fire putty, or RTV high-temperature silicone caulk can be used to repair this crack. The only downside to silicone caulk is that it cannot be painted once it has been applied.
When applying the bonding material, clamp any broken pieces firmly into place so they won't move. If necessary, you may want to support them from the inside.
Make sure that you use enough repair material to press it firmly into the crack. It would help if you left a slight mound on the surface that can be forced deeper into the break.
Using a piece of wood or something similar, shape it to follow the area's contours to be repaired and apply firm pressure on the bonding material until the material is forced into the crack and held in position while it dries. Allow the bonding material to dry completely before using it. It should be sanded first with medium-grit sandpaper until it is level with the rest of the surface, and then it should be smoothed with finer-grit sandpaper.
The chiminea should be painted or redecorated to cover the filler material, and if necessary, the topcoat of lacquer should be applied to give a clear finish. Fortunately, clay chimineas are meant to look rustic in appearance, and, as such, slight imperfections may even add to their charm.