If your idea of a perfect summer night involves hanging out on the patio in the glow of a fire, then you should consider investing in a chiminea fire pit. Not only are these ovens stately and easy to use, they make every outdoor space more comfortable to be in and are likely to draw in crowds of your friends and family eager to enjoy it with you.
Coming from the Spanish word for chimney, chimineas are free standing, front loading fire place ovens that are created with a bulging body and contain a smoke stack for releasing smoke out the top. The design and type of material can vary greatly, but most chimineas are small enough to be moved around and can comfortably fit three to five pieces of wood or artificial fire logs.
Chiminea fire pits are an excellent way to extend your backyard season, as they put out plenty of heat and most offer a wide angle view of the fire inside. This makes them a smart choice on outdoor patios where people like to linger and catch up with each other. Not only are chimineas a pleasing focal point for your patio space, many designs can also be used as brick ovens to bake homemade breads, pizzas and other foods.
Using a chiminea couldn’t be more simple. There are a wide variety of designs available, but most work perfectly well with either wood, coal or artificial logs. Simply start a fire in the belly of the oven and ensure that it maintains a good air flow through the top chimney. When burning properly, chimineas use minimal amounts of oxygen, meaning that they are remarkable fuel efficient and won’t need much additional fuel to continue running.
Top Chimineas in 2017
The type of chiminea you choose to buy depends a lot on taste and what use you want to put it towards. Whether you want a modern decor statement piece or a multifunctional oven that allows you to bake bread with your friends, you can find a style of chiminea to fit your needs below.
Deckmate Corona Outdoor Chiminea Fireplace
You’ll be able to enjoy a comfortable fire with ease in this classy looking outdoor chiminea fireplace. Built from high quality cast iron, this fireplace has a rubbed bronze finish that keeps it looking rugged and will fit into any décor theme that you have. The cap on the top of the fireplace keeps out rain and heavy winds, ensuring that your fires burn long and hot. An easy access sliding door on the sides makes it easy to add fuel, and both wood and artificial logs do well in this model, and the 360 degree fire viewing angle will make sure everyone gets the full effect. As an outdoor attraction, this chiminea will make your hosting space cozy and unique and ensure that you have a central gathering point at every get together. And when the party’s over, clean up is easier than ever with an included ash catcher to contain any mess.Buy On Amazon
Black Steel Chiminea
Fire enjoyment has never been easier than with this 360 degree chiminea design from Chiminea Fire Pit. This great design is made from steel and is big enough to fit just about any size of wood you want. A round screen design ensures that the roaring fire can be viewed from any angle, making this stove a perfect addition to outdoor patio space. The sturdy base means that even the heaviest winds won’t knock this stove over, and easy access sliding door makes adding extra wood a snap. The included poker makes stoking up your flames easier than ever, and the included PVC cover allows you to store your stove without difficulty when necessary. For those that love to spend time out in their yard, this chiminea is sure to dramatically increase your enjoyment.Buy On Amazon
Castle Creek Cabin Cooking Steel Chiminea
Just because you have an outdoor patio fireplace doesn’t mean you need to fall victim to boring steel designs. This chiminea from Castle Creek is as cute as it is functional. This is a fireplace that is meant for making food. You can bring the style of Northwoods right into your backyard with this adjustable, removable cooking grate that makes this chiminea perfect for grilling your favorite foods brick oven style. Based on designs that date back hundreds of years in Mexico, this oven can be used in all types of weather to make your favorite brick oven pizzas, breads and more. Get ready to be the neighborhood attraction with this oven, as once your friends and family get a taste of this oven’s baking, they might not want to go back. This oven can be used with wood, artificial logs or coal, and the poker and ash shovel are also included.Buy On Amazon
Blue Rooster Venetian Chiminea Charcoal
Don’t be fooled by similar designs on the internet- there is only one Blue Rooster Company, and their products are far superior to anything you might find from a knockoff. The quality of design and durability in manufacturing sets Blue Rooster apart and ensures that you will be investing in the highest quality. Each Venetian Chiminea made by Blue Rooster is a stunning centerpiece for your patio space, affording an 180 degree view of the fire inside. You can use it to roast marshmallows or even attempt some more difficult grilling; in any case your friends and family will be sure to flock by. Each chiminea is assembled and packaged in the United States, and they are made from the highest quality aluminum alloy cast iron. The charcoal coloring will last the best during repeated firings, but if you prefer the gold accent and antique green hues are also great choices.Buy On Amazon
Oakland Living Hummingbird Chimenea
Keep your backyard as classy as you can with this decorated chiminea fire pit filled with gorgeously subtle designs of gold plated hummingbirds. This fire pit will liven up any outdoor living space and add a touch of beauty and functionality to a focal gathering point. Each fire pit is made from durable cast iron topped with a hardened powder coat to improve durability. Each fire pit can fit three to five logs inside, ensuring that you’ll be able to make a slow burn last for as long as you linger outside. Some minor assembly is required with this chiminea, but the easy to follow instructions (included) should keep you on the right track, no matter how minimal your building experience may be. All accessories are stainless steel, galvanized or brass, ensuring that they will stay rust free and stunning after years of use.Buy On Amazon
La Hacienda Dark Clay Chiminea
For those that want to forgo steel and have their chiminea take on a more traditional appearance, this mottled clay design by La Hacienda is a smart way to go. The classic style of this ancient baking method is preserved with the dark red mottling of the clay container. Friends and family will be delighted to visit you and experience the warming glow that this simple fire place creates. Not only are the thick clay walls gorgeous to look at, they also provide even heat distribution throughout the chiminea, ensuring that it doesn’t dangerously overheat. Each fire pit is made using the traditional methods of Mexican craftsmen, ensuring each chiminea is a unique creation. Each comes with a stabilizing steel stand and rain lid, helping you to keep your oven safe for years to come. Note, because this is a product made from natural materials, it won’t last as long as fire pits made from steel or cast iron. Nonetheless, if you take good care of your clay chiminea and keep it out of the elements, you will be enjoying its glow for years to come.Buy On Amazon
La Hacienda Oxford Contemporary Chiminea Heater
It’s time to change everything that you thought you knew about chiminea fire pits. This stunning design from La Hacienda is distinctly modern and is sure to capture the attention of everyone that sees it. The obelisk design provides space on the bottom for you to store your spare wood, and an open front ensures that everyone gets a good view of the flames within. The design is constructed with high quality materials that are sure to withstand years of use. High temperature black paint coats the outside, ensuring that your oven will look stylish no matter how long its been burning. This fire pit requires some assembly when you get it, but the detailed instructions will make it a snap. For those in love with modern style elements and with a larger patio space to fill, this chiminea heater is sure to make the visual impression you are looking for.Buy On Amazon
A Chiminea? What is that?
You may have seen this term and been completely unfamiliar with it. Chimineas are popular now, decorating back yards, and porches, lending an interesting point to your landscaping. You can now find them in all settings, country homes and suburbs in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Made from mud and clay, these were designed in Mexico, initially used as ovens for baking bread and providing warmth during chilly times. The chiminea became a very valuable item due to the functional use. It is generally made from clay, but can also be cast iron, and cast aluminum. It was always very useful because it could be placed outdoors to grace the garden, or provide light and warmth on the deck or back porch. With its base that is round and almost like a large belly, that then has a long neck that is referred to as a chimney.
The wonder of the chiminea is that it is well able to provide a great deal of heat from just a small fire. The base is not very large, rounded but relatively small. Due to this, the wood it can accept is not large. The true plan for the chiminea is that it only is meant for small fires, and makes the most out of it. A fire too large will actually cause problems and likely damage your chiminea.
You will find that a chiminea can be used for warming your gatherings on your back porch, to add interest to your lawn, or just as a conversation piece. They are designed to last years, so you can plan to enjoy the warmth of your interesting chiminea on cool nights.
How To Care for Your Chiminea
Your chiminea can last for years with proper care and maintenance. With simple care it will continue to look nice, and allow you to enjoy this unique piece for time to come.
Your chiminea may be made from clay, or other materials, but however it is made, the care required is fairly similar. There are some basic things you need to do to protect your chiminea. Whether cast aluminum, or cast iron, or simple clay, there are some basic needs each requires.
A Chiminea Cover
First of all, you need to protect your chiminea from extremes of weather. The perils of the extremes, rain or snow, ice or heat, all can affect your chiminea negatively. The good news is that you can easily protect your chiminea with a cover to help keep out any excess moisture and also the UV from the sun that will break down your chiminea with added exposure. So, plan for a simple cover when not in use, that will keep your warmth generating décor from damage.
You can expect to spend in the range of $30 to $50 on a good cover. There are covers specifically created for chimineas, designed to fit the specific shape. You can even show your flair for style with different colors and levels of thickness of the cover itself. A custom cover is in the more expensive range, but simple tarp will also do, and you can easily find these at garden store, hardware stores and even some department stores. A tarp cover won’t look as neat and fitted as a custom designed cover will, but it will definitely do the job.
A rain lid can be put on top of the chimney to keep rain from getting inside your chiminea. Your chiminea may come with one that is particular to it, or you may have to locate one. If you want to look for something handy and with minimal expense, you can use a five gallon bucket placed over the top of the chimney. Not the most beautiful, but very functional and economic.
You do have the option of using your chiminea during the winter, but if you don’t plan to, then you should store it somewhere out of the elements to avoid the extremes of temperatures and moisture. Whenever you move your chiminea, be very careful. They are fragile and easily broken. They not the smallest of items and so can be heavy, depending upon what yours is made from, and certainly a bit ungainly just due to size. If you aren’t careful, it is easy to destroy your chiminea.
When you are considering purchasing your chiminea, think about if you plan to store it inside during the winter. If so, you will want to choose one that is easier to move, such as a lighter weight aluminum one. If you would rather have a clay or cast iron chiminea, then you will really want to consider how to cover your chiminea safely for the winter season.
Painting and Sealing to Protect Your Chiminea
Your clay chiminea will likely come newly sealed, right from the company. But you need to know that it will also weather and wear off. You can expect that the sealer will need to be reapplied every three to six months. A clay chiminea must be sealed to protect it. The sealer will last longer if the chiminea is covered when not in use. Even general use of the chiminea will wear off the sealer, so consider this care need when you choose your chiminea.
How to Clean Your Chiminea
When you set up your chiminea, you will want to place sand or stones in the bottom of the belly. This will make cleaning easier. You can scoop out the ashes and all that is in the chiminea and then rinse the ashes away. When the sand or stone is dry, it can be replaced into your chiminea. Some people like to use just sand, and scoop out the majority of the ashes and then turn the sand over to bury the rest. That is all that needs to be done to clean up after using your chiminea. Thankfully, this care does not take much time.
Safety Around Your Chiminea
As you prepare to buy a chiminea, you will want to think through some safety things. Certainly you don’t want to have anyone near your chiminea suffer any burns or injury.
The good news is that due to the design of the chiminea, this type of fire is more contained and safer than a back yard bonfire or fire pit. Any time you work with fire, you are at risk for an accident or accidentally starting a fire that can spread and become a conflagration that can engulf homes and woods or fields. Fire is always a force to be respected.
Here are twelve ways to follow safe protocols when you use your chiminea:
1) Set up on a stable base or foundation. Most chimineas come with (or you can purchase) a stand that has three to four legs. You will want to put this on a stable base, whether that be bricks or cement. You won’t want to ever put it directly onto a surface that can catch fire. A wooden deck or patio will need a non-flammable base between it and your chiminea. This will help prevent any accidental fires, and damage to your property.
2) Choose a location for your chiminea based on safety. You will want to think about placement. Certainly not against your house, it should be away from the house. Don’t store flammabel items near your chiminea, including the fuel for your fires. A spark could escape and start a fire away from your chiminea. Think about your landscaping, your seating and anything else that might catch on fire. Based on all of this, you most certainly don’t want to use a chiminea inside a structure, no matter what. Part of the risk is not only a spark igniting another fire, but the output of a fire – heat and smoke rises. The heat can start something over it on fire, and anything over the chiminea will hold the smoke in which will increase your risk of carbon monoxide exposure. You will want to place your chiminea where you get good ventilation for this very reason. This includes anything over the chiminea, including tree branches!
3) Use only kindling to build your fire. You cannot use chemicals to start a fire in your chiminea. No gas, no lighter fluid, no chemicals. Start your fire small with kindling, and add larger pieces as the fire builds. Remember, you do not want a huge raging fire in your chiminea as that will damage it.
4) Spark arresters are very useful with chimineas. Some come with the chiminea itself, otherwise you will need to get one or make one. Basically, the idea is to keep any sparks or embers inside the chiminea and unable to start an unplanned fire. Many people find that any kind of mesh wire such as chicken wire can be easily folded over the top of the chiminea.
5) Your chiminea will get very hot. It is a clay or metal structure that contains a fire. The outside will become very hot when it has a fire inside. Keep gloves and tongs handy to use when you are feeding fuel to your fire. Do not ever touch the exterior of your chiminea while there is a fire.
6) Small fires are the plan with the chiminea. It was designed to put out a great deal of heat with a very small fire. You will not need much for fuel. You most certainly do not want to build a fire where you have flames coming out the neck of your chiminea.
A Chiminea or a Fire Pit? How are They Different?
How to Choose: Fire Pit or a Chiminea?
Chiminea: Your chiminea provides a confined space for a fire, the fire resides in the bowl of the chiminea, and the neck is the chimney for your fire. The size of the chiminea bowl will dictate the size of your fire. The average chiminea bowl is about two feet in diameter. The chimney will funnel the smoke out as it narrows. This design makes the heat drive the smoke out the chimney with speed and it will blow out the smoke strongly, sending it higher up in to the air and keeping the area where you are sitting free from smoke, while the chiminea will keep more heat, lending a cozy space near it.
Fire Pit: Size is more variable for the fires in a fire pit. Most bowls for the fire pit are two feet in diameter or bigger, up to about 40 inches or more. Because of this you can build a much bigger fire than you would in your chiminea. The bowl of the fire pit can be filled with fuel. Due to the open and round design of the fire pits, you can enjoy the fire from all sides and even use logs in these.
Which is Best for Me?
Each one has different characteristics, so you will want to think about what you desire in your fire area and what will be around it. Think about the weather influences. Is it windy frequently? If you have more breezes, you will most likely have more use for a chiminea as it protects the fire more. With a chiminea, you can also turn it so it faces away from where the breezes usually come from to reduce smoke and ash flying. This is more problematic with a fire pit.
Some people choose a chiminea as not only a fire and warmth source, but as a decorative and artistic device. Even when you aren’t using it, it adds character and beauty to your area.
Each option, fire pit or chiminea, is a great thing, full of warmth and enjoyment, but each has different when it comes to safe use and clean up. Think about what you desire for your area. What extra things will you have to do to improve safety with use? What about when you aren’t using it? What will you do with it and how will it look? Will it look like a dirty fire pit, or a graceful artisan built design? Now if you won’t be able to see it the majority of the time, then you really may not care a whole lot about how it looks.
Cast Iron or Clay Chimineas ?
As you research your chiminea purchase, you will notice two very large differences in your options. You will see cast iron chimineas and clay chimineas. This is a distinction that you will appreciate as you think about your future use of your chiminea.
Cast iron chimineas have the weight issue of the cast iron to consider. While they require little assembly, they may require some. You are unlikely to want to move the heavy object once it is set up, so carefully consider where you want it to reside. While you may think cast iron is indestructible given its weight, it actually isn’t. If it is dropped, it will break. Also, when you consider placement you will also want to know that your chiminea will get very hot. Cast iron is a metal, so an excellent conductor of heat. It will heat up very, very rapidly. You will want to level the foundation surface for your chiminea long before you place it there. Concrete or brick is recommended as a base and you should expect that it will become charred or discolored from the exposure to the heat of your chiminea.
Clay chimineas have advanced in quality since they became popular, so while they are more prone to shattering, it is still a possibility, as they are made from clay. It will not heat up on the outside as fast as a cast iron chiminea, but it too will become very hot in the end. You will have the same issues with needing a stable fire pad, one that will end up with discoloration, and very careful leveling of the foundation to prevent tipping. Instructions on how to do so accurately generally come with your chiminea. With a clay chiminea, you will need to carefully follow safety strategies with your flammables and burn in appropriate sized fires. It is possible for a clay chiminea to break without any signs prior, but the quality is much improved now. Due to the cost of the materials, a clay chiminea is less expensive to purchase.
Safe Place For Chiminea
A key to chiminea placement is planning. It is heavy, and large, and if it falls over or is dropped, it can break. So, take the time to look around and choose an appropriate spot so you will only have to move it the one time. Whether your chiminea is clay or cast iron, your back will thank you for taking your time to plan. There are several things to consider as you select a spot for your chiminea, so keep reading before you start moving it!
You need to plan for chimney space, and clear areas for it. You won’t want to put it under a tree with hanging branches or bushes that will be close or even over it. While it may look pretty, the chiminea is designed so the smoke exhaust comes out with some force so you don’t want anything to be exposed to that heat or possible embers close to the chimney. So, you have looked up, now you need to look down. You will need a stable flat place for the chiminea to sit on, but it also needs to be fireproof as it is very possible that embers may fall and you certainly don’t want to set your seating area on fire. You will be placing more fuel or wood into the chiminea, and it is always likely that some hot ash may drop out. Even if you have a fire screen for it, you will have to move that aside to put more fuel in, and so embers potentially could fall out. You absolutely do not want to have any burnables near the base of the chiminea that may start a secondary fire.
Most people find it very helpful to put sand or stone inside the bowl of your chiminea to keep the fuel away from direct contact with the clay, that could potentially damage your chiminea with rapid temperature changes. It is suggested that you use small gravel, or sand, or another rock, maybe lava rock to raise up the burning surface about two inches or so. You will find that the fire needs to be above the opening to the bowl to encourage smoke to go out the chimney rather than the opening, which would make your gathering a bit uncomfortably smoked out.
What Kind of Wood for Your Chiminea?
Thankfully, your chiminea can use pretty much any kind (or species) of wood. However, the biggest factor with wood for your chiminea is size. Your chiminea has a bowl that wood must fit into. Most wood marketed for a chiminea is smaller than logs you might find for other reasons, tending to be within one foot and one and a half feet in length, in order to fit inside the chiminea. Smaller pieces of wood are what are needed for your small burning area.
So, you can either purchase the wood cut to smaller sizes or you can cut it yourself to the sizes you want. You will want to be able to cut it to fit inside your chiminea bowl. Wood for burning needs to be split, so the inside is open to the air, and given time to dry in open air. Allowing wood time with open air is termed “seasoning”. The best purchases are locally, so you don’t transport wood borne pests to new environments. You will want to invest in the best quality wood you deem appropriate in order to have the best fires in your chiminea. Wood that is well seasoned and good quality will lend the best burning fires for your outdoor entertainment.
When you look for wood, you have many choices. You can choose specialty woods (as follows) or whatever you have handy that fits in as you would desire.
Pinion wood is very popular with chiminea owners as the smells that it gives off as it burns is quite pine scented and in addition the smoke will act as a bug deterrent. For many this is a huge benefit as it will help keep mosquitoes away from evening outdoor events. The pinion is a tree that grows in Mexico and the southwestern areas of the United States. This tree is valued by Native Americans for their nuts, which has been a food source that has been used for ages. You will also notice centuries.
There are other wood species that are very popular with chiminea owners, particularly noted for their aromas. Apple wood gives a great aroma when burned. Hickory wood is also a preferred wood for these burning areas due to the unique smoke generated.
You do not have to use a specific type of wood in your chiminea, you just need it to be small enough to fit inside the bowl easily. Experiment with different fuels and see what you most enjoy with your chiminea. Most importantly, you will want to allow any wood you use in your fires to be fully seasoned for the best burning fires.