What you NEED to know!
It's been a couple of years now since Chimineas (clay
outdoor fireplaces) made their way into the hearth and
Leisure marketplace. At first you may have noticed them
in an occasional hearth store. Next they spread to the
local garden center. Now, Chimineas are becoming a regular
site everywhere from retail chain stores to home centers.
The popularity of Chimineas is still growing and due
to this popularity it is more important than ever to
make consumers aware of how to use and care for their
"I can't tell you how many people ask
me if they can burn their Chiminea indoors." Says Gary
Lafountain of The Sales Arena a Rhode Island based Distribution
Company. "It amazes me that some stores don't give their
customers the necessary instructions."
As with any product that involves fire
it is necessary to use caution and good judgment. Although
the vast majority of companies that are offering Chimineas
to their retail customers are conscientious there is
that occasional instance where a Chiminea is misused
due to lack of knowledge.
Below you will find detailed information
covering the use and care of your firepot.
Although these instructions are applicable
for most clay Chimineas we suggest that you ask for
an instruction sheet from your vendor at the time of
Chiminea Use and Care Instructions:
Before you purchase your Chiminea be sure and consult
your local fire Marshall.
Chimineas are for OUTDOOR USE
ONLY and should NEVER be burned indoors!
From the moment you purchase your Chiminea
there are specific guidelines you should follow.
A large percentage of clay Chimineas are manufactured
in two parts. The base or "bowl" and the neck. During
the manufacturing process each of these pieces dry separately
for several days. After this initial drying process
the neck and bowl are fused together into a single unit.
When handling a chiminea it is important to never lift
from the neck as the bond between the neck and bowl
could separate. The best way to carry a Chiminea is
to grab hold of the chiminea mouth with one hand and
cradle the point where the neck meets the bowl with
your other arm.
Transporting your new Chiminea:
Most people are under the impression that they must
have a truck or van to transport their Chiminea from
the store to their home. This is not the case. In fact
it is easier to set the chiminea in a car seat and fasten
a seat belt around it much like a person. If the seat
belt crosses the Chiminea at the neck be sure and add
a little padding.
Positioning your Chiminea:
Most Chimineas come with an iron stand with either three
or four legs. Three legged stands tend to be easier
to use as they are easier to level however either is
fine. Be sure and find a level, immovable surface for
which to set your Chiminea. Be sure there is nothing
above your chiminea i.e. Branches, awnings, umbrellas
or anything else that could potentially catch on fire.
Remember do not put your Chiminea in a gazebo or enclosed
porch. Set your chiminea a safe distance away from any
Now that you have found a suitable location
let's get your Chiminea ready for a fire.
It is important to insulate the bowl of the Chiminea
so the fire is not directly against the clay. Add sand
or pea stone to the bowl until it is 3"-4" below the
lower lip of the mouth. Play sand works very well and
you can find it at your local home center. Once you
have filled your chiminea with sand you must remove
the sand to move it.
Next place 2 bricks on their side about 6 inches apart.
These will act as the grate and keep wood elevated.
You're ready for your first fire.
Start with small fires:
The first few fires should be relatively small. You
want to "season" your chiminea. Build small, fires with
a couple pieces of kindling. Do this for the first 5-10
fires. Be sure and let the fire burn out naturally.
Fat wood, which can be picked up at the local home center,
works well for starting Chiminea fires. NEVER
use lighter fluid or any other type of flame enhancing
material. The clay can absorb the liquid.
You're ready for larger fires. Once
the Chiminea is seasoned you are ready to burn larger
fires. You may burn a few logs making sure to keep them
in the center of the "bowl". If flames begin to come
out of the neck then your fire is getting too big. Typically
this will not damage the Chiminea however we do not
recommend fires of this size. Chimineas are meant for
small fires. They are not meant as a primary heat source.
What should I burn?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions.
There are several types of woods that work great in
a Chiminea and a few that are absolutely detrimental
to your Chiminea and/or your health.
Since most Chimineas can not accommodate
traditional fireplace size logs you must either buy
pre cut Chiminea wood or cut the logs down yourself.
A good size range for Chiminea wood
is from 9-14 inches in length and 4 inches in diameter.
This size may vary depending on the size of the Chiminea
Do Not Burn:
Pressure treated wood emits toxic gasses when burned.
A good rule of thumb is that if it has a greenish tint
it may be pressure treated. If you are not sure DON'T
burn it! Pellets, which are a type of manufactured wood
stove fuel, are not recommended for use in a Chiminea.
They tend to burn hot and if the quality is poor they
will leave a lot of ash. Most Chiminea manufacturers
suggest against burning charcoal.
Types of wood to burn:
There are several types of wood that many people love
to burn however extra caution is needed.
Red Cedar has a nice
aroma and keeps the mosquito's away however it has a
tendency to "pop" therefore be sure and have a spark
arrestor in or on the neck and a screen over the mouth.
Mesquite is an excellent
cooking wood for those with grill chimineas but it burns
very hot. Be sure and use only a few pieces at a time.
Scrap lumber is a popular
fuel for chimineas however dry pieces of pine and spruce
2"x4"s, 2"x6"s etc burn fast and hot. This type of wood
can be easily split into small kindling.
Green or wet wood causes
a lot of smoke, which may annoy neighbors.
Pinion Pine Pinion
both smells great and wards off mosquitos. This makes
it probably the most widely used Chiminea wood.
Apple Apple is harder
to come by but it is an excellent Chiminea wood. Apple
has a wonderful aroma.
Alligator Juniper New
Mexico Alligator Juniper - This traditional firewood
will provide a unique aroma in your fireplace, chiminea,
or stove. Chimineas Inc. carries firewood for the most
discriminating tastes in wood for both cooking and burning.
Whether you are looking for the insect repellent aroma
of New Mexico Piñón or enjoy smoking meat with South
Texas Mesquite, remember Chimineas Inc. delivers.
Hickory Who doesn't
love the traditional taste of a tender ham smoked with
some good old-fashioned Hickory? Try using Hickory in
a Chiminea grill for some great tasting burgers.
Mesquite Although mesquite
is noted for its ability to thrive in near drought conditions,
this culinary wood is best known for its qualities in
smoking meat. Chefs, regardless of culture or location,
hail mesquite as the only option for smoking brisket.
For Chiminea grill users mesquite gives
steaks an incredible flavor. *Remember Mesquite burns
hot so limit the number of pieces. Just about any fireplace
wood can also be used in a Chiminea. Be sure it is seasoned
for a more pleasurable experience.
The quality of Chimineas currently available varies
dramatically. At on end of the spectrum there are basic
terra-cotta clay models some of which are not baked
or kiln dried. Many of these models are not painted
or sealed to help protect the clay from the weather.
At the other end is El barro clay models, which typically
have been fired and upon drying are painted and or sealed.
Price does not dictate whether or not
you purchased the best or worst model. Regardless of
what type of Chiminea you have there is some amount
Although not necessary with some styles it is important
to seal most of the Chimineas on the market today.
Future floor wax or Butchers wax are
two brands which work well. Simply take a rage and if
using future squirt some on the outside of the chiminea.
Next rub it around using a clean rag, towel or cloth.
You need not due this more than once.
This helps to seal some of the pores and hairline cracks
that are not visible to the naked eye. When you are
not using your Chiminea you should protect it from the
weather. An old grill cover works well. Most Chiminea
dealers also offer storm covers specifically made for
Chimineas. Storm covers are a good investment and in
most cases can be had for under $20.00.
Storing your Chiminea:
If you live in a climate where temperatures dip below
freezing during the winter it is a good idea to store
your chiminea inside the house, shed or garage. The
combination of freezing temperatures and moisture could
potentially cause your chiminea to crack.
First remove the sand.
Remove the Chiminea from its stand and
place it inside. If you are storing it in a non-heated
environment set your chiminea on a pallet or on a couple
of pieces of wood so that air can circulate underneath.
Do not store your chiminea on its stand.
Other Chiminea uses:
Although Chimineas are primarily designed for small,
outdoor fires many people are using them as decorative
accent pieces in their homes or gardens.
We have seen chimineas used for everything from a towel
holder to housing for pets. Homeowners who are going
for a southwest theme have been purchasing chimineas
as oversized planters and candle holders.
A large Chiminea in the corner with
a big, three-wicked candle makes for a great conversation
piece. This may seem kind of bizarre to some people
however Architectural Digest one of the leading journals
for designers and decorators featured a large Chiminea
We have seen some incredible uses of Chimineas in the
Garden. Sunflowers popping out of the top. Vines poring
out of the mouth. A fallen Chiminea filled with topsoil
and a variety of flowering plants. Broken Chimineas
are becoming a big seller. They add a unique twist to
the boring old clay pots.
General safety tips:
Although most people are conscientious we always provide
a few "common sense" tips just to be on the safe side.
· Always have a fire extinguisher
handy when burning in your Chiminea.
· Be aware of children and pets.
· Never leave your fire unattended.
· Do not touch the outside of your Chiminea while
it is in use.
· Do not extinguish your Chiminea fire with water.
We hope that the preceding information
will help you to enjoy your Chiminea to it's fullest!