what to burn in a chiminea

Unlock the Secrets: What to Burn in a Chiminea

Last Updated on February 2, 2023

Chimineas are a great way to add warmth and ambience to your outdoor living space. But what you burn in them is just as important. Whether it’s wood, charcoal or something else entirely, understanding the best fuel sources for chimineas can make all the difference when it comes to safety and efficiency. Let’s take a look at burning in a chiminea – we’ll explore which materials work best, some safe burning practices and even alternative fuels that may surprise you. So grab your firewood, and let’s get started on learning how to properly burn in a chiminea.

Table of Contents:

Wood vs. Charcoal

Wood and charcoal are two of the most popular fuel sources for outdoor fireplaces, such as chimineas. While both provide warmth and a cosy atmosphere, there are some important differences between them that should be considered before making your choice.

When it comes to cost, wood is usually cheaper than charcoal in the long run. Wood can be sourced from fallen trees or purchased from local suppliers at a reasonable price. Charcoal, on the other hand, requires an initial investment to purchase enough for multiple uses over time.

The burning process also differs significantly between wood and charcoal. Wood burns slowly with a steady flame, while charcoal burns hotter and faster with more intense heat output but a shorter duration of use. This means that if you’re looking for longer-lasting fires, then wood may be better suited for your needs, whereas if you want quicker results, then charcoal might work better instead.

Wood and charcoal are two of the most popular fuels used in outdoor fireplaces, such as chimineas. Although both provide warmth and a pleasant atmosphere for entertaining guests outdoors, there are some key differences between them that should be considered when deciding which fuel to use.


When it comes to cost, wood is generally cheaper than charcoal. Depending on where you live, you can usually find bags of wood chips or logs at your local hardware store for around $5-10 per bag. Charcoal briquettes tend to be more expensive, but they do last longer than wood, so if you plan on having frequent fires, then this could be worth the extra expense.

Ease of Use

Both fuel types require some preparation before lighting a fire, but charcoal tends to be easier because it requires less effort to get started. All you need is a lighter or matches, and some kindling (small pieces of wood) and the fire will usually light quickly without much fuss. Wood takes longer since it needs time to burn down into embers before adding larger logs or chunks onto the fire – plus, there’s always the risk that damp wood won’t catch alight easily.

Heat Output & Duration

burning woods in a white chiminea

The heat output from burning either type of fuel depends largely on how well it has been prepared beforehand; however, charcoal typically produces more intense heat over a shorter period compared with burning wood which gives off lower heat levels over an extended period due to its slow-burning nature. This means that if you’re looking for quick bursts of warmth, then charcoal might be better suited, whereas if you want something that lasts all night long, opt for using logs instead.

Smoke & Soot Production

Burning logs also produce more soot which can leave behind an unpleasant residue on furniture and other surfaces near your fireplace area after each use – something else worth considering when making your decision about what type of fuel best suits your needs.

Wood is a great fuel for your chiminea, but it’s important to remember that charcoal can also be used. To ensure safe burning practices, the next heading will discuss how to properly burn either type of fuel in your chiminea.

Key Takeaway: Wood is cheaper and burns slower, while charcoal is more expensive but provides hotter, faster-burning fires.

Safe Burning Practices

When it comes to burning in a chiminea, safety should always be your top priority. Proper ventilation is key when using a chiminea, as the smoke and fumes produced can be hazardous if not properly dispersed. Ensure you have adequate airflow around the area where you plan to burn, and never use it indoors or in an enclosed space.

It’s also important to ensure that your fire is built correctly for safe burning practices. Start by laying down some kindling at the bottom of the chiminea and then adding larger pieces of wood on top, making sure they are spaced out evenly so air can flow through them easily. When lighting your fire, make sure you have plenty of newspaper or kindling ready to get it going quickly and safely.

Once your fire has been lit, there are still certain precautions that need to be taken for safe burning practices with a chiminea. Never leave fires unattended and keep children away from open flames at all times; even if the flame appears small, sparks may fly up unexpectedly, which could cause injury or damage property nearby. Additionally, check regularly that embers haven’t escaped from underneath or around the sides of your chiminea – these should always be extinguished before leaving them alone overnight or while unsupervised during daylight hours.

Key Takeaway: When using a chiminea, it is important to ensure proper ventilation and build the fire correctly for safe burning practices. Always keep an eye on the fire, never leave it unattended and make sure embers are extinguished before leaving alone.

What Not To Burn

Burning these materials can release toxic fumes and particles into the air, which can be dangerous for you and your family’s health.

Pressure-Treated Wood

Pressure-treated wood is wood that has been treated with chemicals such as arsenic or chromium copper arsenate (CCA) to protect it from rot and insects. These chemicals are highly toxic when burned, so pressure-treated wood should never be used in a chiminea or any other type of fire pit.

Plastic & Rubber

Plastic and rubber items like toys, hoses, furniture cushions, etc., should also not be burned in a chiminea because they will release hazardous toxins into the air when heated up. Additionally, plastic items may melt or catch on fire if exposed to high temperatures over an extended period of time.

Painted Items & Glued Materials

a chiminea in the garden

Painted items such as furniture pieces may contain lead paint which is very dangerous when inhaled or ingested through contact with smoke residue left behind after burning them in a chiminea. The same goes for glued materials like particle board which contains formaldehyde—a known carcinogen—which is released into the air when heated up too much during the combustion process.

It’s best to avoid using these types of paper products altogether whenever possible since they don’t burn well anyway due to their low ignition temperature point compared to untreated papers like cardboard boxes or plain white printer paper sheets without any coloured images printed on them at all.

Key Takeaway: Never burn pressure-treated wood, plastic and rubber items, painted items or glued materials in a chiminea as they will release hazardous toxins into the air.

Alternative Fuel Sources

When it comes to fuel sources for your chiminea, you have a few options. The most common is wood or charcoal, but there are other alternatives that may be more convenient and easier to use. Bioethanol fuel logs are one option. These logs burn cleanly with no smoke or ash, making them ideal for those who don’t want the mess of traditional fuels. They also produce a lot of heat and last up to three hours per log. Gel fuel cans are another great alternative, as they can be lit quickly and easily without any mess or fuss. They also provide plenty of heat output and last around two hours per canister.

If you’re looking for an even cleaner burning option, consider using natural gas or propane in your chiminea instead of wood or charcoal. Natural gas burns very cleanly with minimal emissions while still providing plenty of warmth from your fire pit area – plus, it’s easy to light. Propane is similar in terms of its low emissions but provides a slightly higher temperature than natural gas does when burned properly in your chiminea setup. Both options require specialised equipment such as tanks and hoses, so make sure you do some research before investing in either type of fuel source for your outdoor fireplace setup.


Burning in a chiminea can be a great way to enjoy your outdoor space. Whether you choose wood or charcoal, it is important to remember safe burning practices and avoid burning anything other than the recommended fuel sources. With the right knowledge and care, you can safely burn in your chiminea for many years to come.

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