Essential clay chiminea safety FAQs

clay chiminea

Are you new to chiminea life? Do you have any questions? Here are some essential clay chiminea safety FAQs for you. Here’s what you need to know.

Can my clay chiminea explode? If so, why?

Chimineas are designed for small fires. There’s never any need for an enormous roaring blaze. The clay heats up like a giant radiator and that’s what gives you so much heat. If the fire is too big, the chiminea can either crack, shatter, or even explode. Sharp chunks of hot pottery are very dangerous, especially when flying through the air at high speed, so it’s wise to keep your chim fire small and neat. Just wait for it to heat up fully – patience is a virtue here!

The same goes if you cool down a hot clay chiminea too quickly. The heat stress can crack or break it. Leave your chim to cool down slowly and naturally after use. Never throw water over it. Because the fire is contained inside, it’s safe to leave it unattended once the flames have died back.

Clay chiminea safety FAQs – Can I still use a cracked chiminea?

More essential clay chiminea safety FAQs… despite being designed to withstand heat and fire, a clay chiminea can crack through heat stress because the clay heats up too fast – which can happen when your fire is too big. It can also crack if it’s wet then the temperature goes below freezing, simply because the water inside the clay expands. And, of course, because they’re made of pottery, chimineas will break if dropped or bashed.

If the crack is small you can repair it – we’ve written a post about how to mend a broken clay chiminea. If it’s badly broken, you can use it for a load of other cool purposes – and we’ve also written a blog post about that.

What is a clay chiminea made from?

It’s clay… which means it’s pottery. Think terra cotta plant pots, the red pottery ones, and you get the picture. The clay chims are made from is much the same, fired at 950-1100C and made from 2 – 2.5cm thick red clay, which is red thanks to a high iron content. It’s bisque fired – ie. fired once to harden and strengthen it, then it’s ready to use. While they’re not given a glaze firing, some chims are decorated with 3d patterns which are painted after bisque firing.

Click here to learn more about the different types of clay.

How long do clay Chimineas last?

Those in the know reckon a clay chiminea, when used frequently, should last at least five years. But when properly cared for it can last a lot longer than that.

Yes, and it can be great fun! You can easily re-paint or paint a clay chiminea using anything from ordinary household emulsion paint to masonry paint, all available in a multitude of gorgeous colours. If yours arrived plain you can paint and decorate it if you like. It won’t harm the clay or affect the performance. Some people use heat resistant paints, and Rust-Oleum Stove and BBQ Spray Paint is the best for metal chimineas.

Do I have to put sand or volcanic rocks in the bottom of my clay chiminea?

Yes, because hot wood coals in the bottom of a clay chiminea cause heat stress because it’s so much hotter at the bottom than elsewhere. The sand or rock protects the belly of the chiminea, making it easier to avoid heat cracking. It also gives you a nice, flat surface to balance your grill on when cooking yummy things outdoors. You’ll need a layer of sand or volcanic rock around 8cm deep.

Is it OK to put my chiminea on a wooden or composite deck?

Best not, unless you sit it on a protective layer of some sort to keep the decking safe from scorches and burns. Sand is good, as are special fire pit pads and platforms, usually either metal or stone. Also, make sure the steel stand is standing safely straight on the surface so it doesn’t get knocked over. It’s a matter of common sense, really.

Why does my clay chiminea come with a lid?

The lid looks good, and it helps protect the chim in wet weather and when you’re not using it. Don’t put the lid on while the chiminea is burning. The extra heat you get could crack the clay and you’ll get loads of smoke pouring out of the mouth.

We wish you many years of fun and entertainment with your beautiful clay chiminea. If you haven’t bought one yet, take a look at our stunning collection of genuine, great quality clay chimineas from Mexico, the traditional home of the chim.