Guide to Patio Chimineas

ChimineasChimineas offer a sophisticated way to create a warming fire in the back yard. Read on to learn about the different types available and how to best care for them.

Metal (Cast Iron / Steel) Chimineas

Metal chimineas require only minor assembly and are extremely durable. They are not susceptible to cracking and chipping like clay chimineas are. Being that these chimineas are quite heavy, it is a good idea to set them up in the location where they will ultimately rest. Since metal absorbs and retains heat very easily, these chimineas can get far hotter than clay ones. For safety when opening and closing the front door, consider using leather hide gloves to protect your hands. After each use, metal chimineas should be covered up with a plastic cover. By preventing contact with water, the metal chiminea will not rust and degrade. After a couple years of use, the exterior paint may chip and flake. A simple metal refinishing kit may be used to restore the chiminea to a like-new shape. Remember to use only heat resistant paints when refinishing.

Clay Chimineas

Although clay chimineas such as those made from terra cotta can break if dropped or impacted, they are beautifully rustic and natural in appearance. Very quick temperature changes can cause the clay to crack, so never pour water onto a hot chiminea in an attempt to cool it down quickly. Some clay chimineas have built-in feet which which are fused to the body. Others are set on a metal stand. If the chiminea accidentally falls over it will surely break, so be sure to put it in a spot which is completely flat. One disadvantage that clay chimineas have over metal ones is that they lack a front screen. Without the screen, embers may be able to fly out the front.

Safety and Use

Pick a location which has no overhanging fire hazards such as branches or fabric awnings. The ground surface should also be heat-proof, such as brick or concrete. Before placing wood or charcoal into the chiminea, fill the bottom of the reservoir with rocks about 1-2 inches below the rim of the front opening. This serves to raise the wood high enough so that the smoke rises out of the flute, not the front opening. It also acts as a barrier between the chiminea body and the heat source. In addition to a protective cover, special sealer spray may be used to protect the exterior of clay chimineas. This spray forms a water resistant barrier much like wax on a car.

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