The secret to a roaring fire in your chiminea

Want to know how to get your chiminea blazing?  Here’s how I do it – without fail, every time:

First off, no matter what your final, main fuel will be – charcoal, logs, etc – you must always start with the same 2 things:

1.  What you’ll actually light. 

Lightly scrunched balls of newspaper work great. My friend John ‘The Firestarter’ swears by the fluff you get out of your tumble dryer – but not your belly-button :). 

2.  Kindling

These small strips of dry wood will take you from just lit, to a strong heat base. So make sure you’ve always got some.

If you want even more of a dead cert, use some Ocote sticks too.  Packed with easy burning resin, they’ll help kick start your fire base – they smell great too. 

Armed with both of the above, you’ve got all the ingredients for a cracking fire. 

Here’s how to make it happen:

It takes a bit of time to get your chiminea blazing, so make sure you’re lighting it before you need it. 

Your chiminea must be empty. Trying to light on top of old ash, or unburnt fuel won’t work – so clean it out

    … and if you’re chiminea has a lid, take it off. 

Put 3, or 4 balls of newspaper – or your tumble dryer fluff – in.  Leaving room for air, build a pyramid of kindling over the top. 

(Some people build a lattice raft of kindling over their newspaper, putting some of their main fuel on top. I’ve tried it, but find the pyramid works better. )

Now light your newspaper / fluff – in more than 1 place if you can. 

While the paper burns, your chiminea will smoke. Don’t worry, this will stop.

As the smoke dies down, you should start to hear the kindling cracking as it burns.  Once it’s going nicely, add a little more to really build your fire base. 

With your base sorted, it’s time to add your main fuel. Go slow to start with – you don’t want to choke your fire. 

Chiminea with a full fire
Chiminea with a full fire

If you’re burning logs, don’t chuck a huge 1 on. Start smaller and build up to the big ‘will burn for hours’ monsters. 

Then all you need to do is keep feeding your fire – simple. 

If you’ve got a poker – I’d recommend getting one if you don’t – use it to make sure there’s plenty of room for air to get around your fuel. 

Done right, your chiminea will keep you warm all night. And still be hot enough to get going again the next day.