Common Chiminea Questions and Expert Answers [FAQ]

As chiminea get more and more popular, we’re asked a growing number of questions about them, what they’re for, how to use them properly, what to do in a wide variety of circumstances, you name it. Here are six of the most popular chiminea questions, and our answers.

What is the purpose of a chiminea?

Traditional clay chimineas can be traced to Spain, which is how they eventually found their way to Mexico, via the Spanish conquerors. They date back at least 400 years, once an essential piece of kit for everyday life, originally used indoors for heating and cooking, sited in a place with a good flow of fresh air to dissipate the fumes, with a hole in the roof for the smoke to escape. They’ve scored a huge garden décor hit over the past decade, and now they’re widely used all over the world to:

  • Keep you warm alfresco
  • Provide an attractive focal point for your outdoor space
  • Cook and heat tasty food

How to put out a fire in a chiminea

Help… your chiminea fire has gone a bit crazy! It happens very rarely, and it’s easy to avoid by simply setting a small, neat fire in your chiminea instead of a whopping great blaze. Here are some tips about putting a chiminea fire out.

  • You don’t need to light a roaring fire in a clay chimenea. It’s designed to hold and radiate heat, and a small to medium fire will do perfectly.
  • Start fires slowly and steadily to let the heat build gradually and prevent cracking through thermal shock. If flames come out of the top you’ve gone too far and you could crack the chiminea. Leave it to cool down and start again with a smaller fire.
  • When you add 5cm of sand or pea gravel to your clay chiminea, it’ll keep the hottest part of the fire clear of the base and protect against heat cracks. Lava rocks are even better because they allow more air flow for a better burn.
  • If the flames or heat are causing damage to nearby stuff, you’ve learned a valuable lesson – always stand your chiminea away from anything that could catch fire or get too hot.
  • To calm things down the best idea is to steer clear, let the fire do its natural thing and burn out on its own. Don’t add any more fuel, obviously.
  • You can put the flames out using soil or sand, but never, ever use water. The temperature change will shock a clay chiminea into cracking if you’re not careful, and if the clay is really hot it could even shatter.
  • Once you’ve finished using your chiminea, don’t wander off and leave it alight. Douse it with sand or soil first, and make sure it’s fully out. And don’t put a chiminea cover on a hot chiminea. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised…

Can I have more than one chiminea?

There’s no reason why not. We have customers who have bought several, to stand around their garden at strategic points. Commercially they’re often used at pubs and wedding venues to heat patios, walled gardens, beer gardens and outdoor eating areas.

How to clean a clay chiminea

Clay chimeneas usually come pre-sealed to keep water out. The seal wears over time, and it’s a good idea to re-apply a special chimenea seal product once a quarter. You’ll find it here on our site. Other than that, here’s what you can do to keep your clay chiminea looking good.

  • The chimenea paint finish might change colour. It’s normal, caused by the fire itself and the weather, and many people like the rustic/vintage effect.
  • If the outside gets dirty and dusty, you can wipe it with a damp cloth – let it dry completely before lighting a fie, or light a very small one first to get rid of the moisture.
  • If yours is going to live outdoors all year round, buy a chiminea cover to keep it clean and dry. And keep the lid on the chimney. If the clay gets wet you need to dry the chiminea first by lighting a small fire which heats up very slowly, gently turning the water into steam and driving it out of the clay.
  • Once your fire has gone out completely, clean the ashes out with a small shovel, rinse the sand, lava rocks or gravel free of ash and let them dry before putting them back inside ready for the next time.

Using a chiminea on decking – Floor protector

Ideally your chiminea will come with a stand, usually metal, which keeps its hot body off the ground. You can stand a chiminea on decking. But because decking is wooden, it makes sense to invest in a floor protector.

Some people use concrete paving slabs, placed underneath the chiminea and surrounding area, just in case any embers or burning fuel fall out during refuelling. Bricks also do a good job, being fireproof. But a specially designed floor protector is your best bet. We sell one made from steel sheet, designed to fully protect your decking or patio from sparks and ash. All you do is put your chiminea or firebowl on the floor protector before you light it, and it’s big enough for almost every firebowl and chiminea we stock. Here it is.

How to disperse chiminea smoke

Chimineas aren’t particularly smoky, they’re specially designed for fuel efficiency, but there’s always some smoke. What happens when the wind gets up? You don’t want smoke blowing everywhere, which is when a chiminea extension chimney comes in handy. It takes the smoke from the chiminea up into the air away from you, your guests and the neighbour’s washing!

The extension fits over the chimney section, with no tools or glue required. It’s easy to take on and off (only do it when it has cooled down, of course), made from tough galvanised steel and sealed with heat-resistant stove paint. You’ll find it here.

Any more chiminea questions?

Just ask, we’re always pleased to help.