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.
7) Remember that weather affects not only you, but your chiminea also. You will want to keep it protected from moisture – rain and snow, as these can make it more likely to break. Remember basic fire safety – don’t use your chiminea when it is windy as a spark is more likely to escape and start an unintended fire.
8) Plan for putting out your fire and dousing any sparks that may fly out. It is always wise to plan ahead and have a hose handy, or at least a bucket of water or shovel with sand nearby for putting out an ember. Whenever you want to put out the fire in your chiminea use sand or smothering, but never ever water in your chiminea. It could completely destroy your chiminea.
9) Child safety around the chiminea. Always teach your children to respect fire, the danger of it, and how hot the chiminea will get when it is lit. You don’t want them to poke sticks or anything into it, or to get too close where they might fall against the hot sides. You do this when you hae children around other fires, so follow those same safety precautions while letting them know that the chiminea itself will get very hot. Be sure to restrict running around the fire.
10) Watch your pets carefully around the chiminea as they also can become injured if they were to get too close or to touch the chiminea.
11) Don’t ever leave it burning without supervision. You will want to keep an eye on it just as you would any other fire.
12) When you are finished, be sure to extinguish the fire per instructions. Be sure the fire is completely out before you leave the area.