how to use a chiminea

How to Use a Chiminea: Care and Maintenance Guide

Last Updated on January 10, 2023

Are you wondering how to use a chiminea properly?

A chimenea gives you more control over the fires you build than a standard firepit, and it’s more versatile than an outdoor fireplace. You can even cook foods in the right product. However, before you can take full advantage of your chimeneas, you need to know how to use them properly.

Setting up Your Chimenea

The first step in learning how to use a chimenea is making sure you select the right product and set it up correctly in your garden. The chimenea construction that’s right for you will depend on the kind of things you want to accomplish. For instance, a clay chimenea is a more traditional option. Clay chimeneas are great for excellent performance in any weather, and they’re not susceptible to rust.

However, with a clay product, you will need to invest extra time in sealing your chimenea and protecting it from higher temperatures, which can cause the clay to crack. Alternatively, cast iron chimenea products can withstand fires with higher temperatures, but they’re also susceptible to rust in bad weather.

Once you choose the kind of material you want your new investment to be made from, you’ll need to decide where you’re going to place your chimenea. The idea is to find a permanent position, so you don’t need to move the product around every time you use it. Try to find a space that can be close to the action in your garden but protected against the elements.

Keep your chimenea on a stable base so it’s not rocking back and forth or likely to tip in the wind. Avoid placing the product under any wood or leaves that could heat up or burn.

Preparing Your Chimenea

With your choice of the right chimenea and location settled, the next step is getting the product ready for all the ways you want to use it. Remember to pour about four inches of both sand and gravel into the Chimeneas at the bottom. This will help to prevent too much smoke from coming out of the top.

If possible, check for instructions on using a chiminea from the person or company who made your product. They can give you guidance on what type of fuel or wood to use and whether you need to seal the clay before you begin adding pieces of wood and fire.

Ensure that the inside of the chimenea is dry before adding your wood. If you’re going to be using wood logs, then the best options will usually be seasoned logs that you can place among the couple of inches of sand and gravel at the bottom. Be careful not to let the inches of sand cover the logs.

Seasoned logs burn better and can reduce the smoke coming from your stove, which means you can enjoy your time using the chimenea as a stove or fireplace more.

Between the pieces of wood, you add to your chiminea, fill the gaps with scrunched up newspapers. You can also use a firelighter if you have one, but stick to dry firelighters. Do not use liquid fuel for the heating of your chimenea.

Lighting the Fire in Chimineas

The most challenging part of using a chiminea for most people is lighting the fire and keeping it lit. The good news is that the fire in your chiminea will be better protected than it would be in a standard fire pit, thanks to the bowl design. Remember to use seasoned logs in clay chimineas and avoid charcoal, which might burn too hot.

Find some dry kindling, like the kind you would add to a wood burning stove. You should not add leaves or damp twigs from around the garden to your fire. This is one way to increase the amount of smoke produced. It’s also more likely to get bad fumes and dirty smoke if you add outdoor roughage to the kindling process.

Dry kindling like sticks and twigs or firelighters can be useful here. When you’re ready and safe, use a long match or lighter to carefully light the kindling. Once the papers and kindling are burning, you can begin to add a handful of additional dry kindling into the chiminea. Avoid adding too much at once to control the smoke levels.

You can add more fire logs to the kindling and existing wood at the base of the chiminea once the flames are burning properly. Do not add charcoal and other products unless you know your chiminea construction can withstand a lot of heat.

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Cooking With Your Chimineas

If you’re cooking with your chiminea, you may need to use a grill inside the stack to keep the food from getting lost among the newspaper and burned wood. You can find various stack options available from companies that sell accessories for the outdoors. Make sure that you choose the right type of products for chiminea cooking and avoid making the flames too big.

Ideally, your chiminea will be glowing with embers and small flames. If you have a roaring fire, then this indicates that your chiminea is taking in too much air, which means that it’s not burning as hot as you need it to be.

When you’re done using your grill, or outdoor chiminea, do not extinguish the flames with water. Use the sand underneath the wood to douse the flame.

Do You Leave the Lid on a Chiminea?

In some cases, your chimineas might come with a lid or cover. This product can help to protect children from being exposed to excessive amounts of smoke from the top of the chimney. A lid can also be helpful for preventing dirt and water from entering the bowl while you’re using your new purchase. If pieces of debris fall through the top of the chiminea into the stack, this can harm the performance of your fire and may mean your chiminea doesn’t last as long.

Remember, although it might be tempting to use the cover on the top of your chiminea to reduce the amount of smoke, this is not a good idea. Using a chiminea with the lid on the top will prevent gasses and smoke from leaving the top of the stack. This also means that the fire will struggle to burn because the gasses created by the flames will smother the oxygen.

When you aren’t using your chiminea for fire, you can then place the cover on top to protect it against external items or moisture getting in. It’s also a good idea to keep your chiminea out of the way of excessive exposure to water and wind. This can cause the material of some chimineas to rust much faster. Keep any newspaper and wood you’re going to be using in the base of your chiminea for heat in a place where it will remain warm and dry too.

Maintaining Your Chimineas

Remember, an important part of using your chiminea correctly is dedicating the right amount of time and effort to chiminea care. You’ll get the best fire and the most heat from a chiminea that’s properly taken care of. This could mean that you seal the outside of a clay chiminea before using it to stop the heat of the fire from cracking the clay too quickly.

Good chiminea care also means leaving your product to cool down properly after the fire goes out whenever you use it. When the fire completely dies out, you can remove large pieces of ash with a rake or shovel, similar to what you might do with a fire pit. This will help you to heat your chiminea faster next time you light your fire.


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During harsher weather periods, it’s best to keep the chiminea inside, or in a shed, where its surfaces won’t be exposed to all the elements of your backyard. Although a clay chiminea can survive a bit better than a metal one in the rain, both can end up cracking or being damaged by harsh weather. If you notice rust on your chiminea, try cleaning it and coating it with heat resistant paint.

If there are any slight cracks in your chiminea which you notice when adding newspaper or sand to the product, make sure that you look into fixing these as quickly as possible. You may be able to seal the cracks and stop the entire chiminea from breaking if you notice the problem quickly enough.

Your chiminea manufacturer should be able to tell you whether you need any special products to help care for your chiminea. One option might be to apply a seal coating to maintain warmth from the fire in a clay product. If you have one of the iron or steel chiminea fire pits, there are special paints designed just for these chimineas.

To Sum It Up

We hope that this guide on how to use a chiminea has given you the inspiration to make an investment. The right chiminea can be an excellent addition to your garden or home exterior. These products aren’t just attractive; they’re also practical, offering a consistent source of heat at almost any time of year. With both cast iron chimineas and clay chimineas, you can create an inviting space outdoors for your friends and loved ones.

Do you have a chimenea? Are you planning to buy one? Let us know in the comments below.

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