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.
Cast Iron Chiminea PRO’s and CON’s
- Longer lifespan than clay chimineas
- Less expensive to ship
- More durable than a clay chiminea
- Simple to repaint for upkeep
- Due to the heavy weight, it is less likely to fall over
- Will require less care than clay
- Provides warmth quickly.
- As the exterior gets very hot very rapidly, you will want to place a cast iron chiminea well away from anything. Farther than you would need to do with a clay chiminea.
- The heat it puts out while it has a fire is quite intense and it is easy to get burned when adding fuel to the bowl. Be careful to avoid blistering and burns.
- Due to the heat involved and the radiant heat through the cast iron, there are more fire risks as the head from the cast iron alone could ignite something that is touching it.
- The paint will come off due to the heat of the fires. As it is iron, then it will rust, which will leave unsightly rust stains on the surface and surrounding area if it is allowed to rust.
- The weight factor is significant. Because of this, it may need some assembly as it may come in pieces for ease of movement. And once it is fully assembled, moving it is very difficult and risky as it will break if it falls.
- More costly to purchase.
Clay Chiminea PRO’s and CON’s
- Less likely to get burns from the exterior than a cast iron chiminea.
- Handcrafted and origonal, work of art. Will gain patina and character with use.
- Less costly than cast iron
- No assembly as it is created in one continuous piece
- Will cool down fairly rapidly, reducing the risk for burns from an untended chiminea
- Simple to paint when needed.
- Not as long lasting as cast iron.
- Can break or shatter while there is a fire going in the bowl, without any signal
- When using it in the cold, you will need to slowly warm it for 30 minutes to prevent shattering
- Won’t radiate as much heat as a cast iron chiminea
- Paint fades and it needs more maintenance than cast iron.