Chimeneas ~ Safety & Usage Guide

Copper, clay and cast iron chimeneas are fireplaces and as such, have special characteristics and requirements for proper use. Hopefully you have checked your local municipal or city regulations to make sure chimeneas are acceptable in your area.

Put Your Chiminea in a Safe Place

Before lighting your chiminea for the first time, find a secure, stable and safe place to put your chiminea. Chimineas are usually quite heavy and you don't want to have to move or re-position more than once. If your chiminea is made of terracotta or clay, you want to avoid moving more than necessary to avoid the chance of cracking or breaking the more fragile material.

Prepare a location on a flat, fireproof surface such as rock, concrete, bricks or pavers. If you have a wood deck, place the chimineas on firebrick or flat stone. Hot ashes may fall on the ground around the chiminea, even if you have a firescreen—when you add firewood or stoke the fire with the screen open.

cast iron chimeneaLocate the chimenea in a spot that is clear of any overhanging trees, branches or brushes. The exhaust coming out of the top of the chimenea has velocity and the heat will rise for beyond the top of the chiminea.

Avoid placing the chimenea too close to planted areas or garden planters as the heat may damage the plants. Also, be sure to keep plastic patio furniture, pool toys or accessories at a safe distance.

The worst enemy of a clay chimenea other then dropping it, is water. The clay chiminea will absorb the water. The absorbed moisture has the potential of freezing in cold conditions and possibly cracking and, or breaking. Building a fire in a clay chiminea with heavy moisture saturation could also damage the chiminea.

A clay chiminea should be protected from water as much as practically possible. The best method is to be sure the clay chiminea is sealed. Chiminea sealer will usually last about three to four months with average weekend usage before needing to be re-applied.

Cast iron chimineas don't need to be sealed like clay chimineas but they have their own problems—rust! After a period of use the cast iron chiminea bowel and, or the other components of the chiminea i.e. smoke stack, the wire screen door, the cap on top, will rust. Some new cast iron chimeneas have better paint than others and they will last longer. Keep an eye out for rust and use a fireproof paint.

You'll Also Need...

Chimenea Rock, Sand or Pea Gravel - Put this in the bowl of a clay chiminea before lighting a fire. Keeps the coals off clay. Fill the chiminea so the chiminea rock fills all but about an inch or so from the bottom of the opening. You want the chiminea bowel this full. This keeps the smoke from coming out the front and smoking up your patio.

Grill - most cast iron chimeneas come with a grill. If yours didn't, make sure you have a grill to place inside the bowl

Cover - Protects clay chimenea from sun and helps keep moisture from clay.

Chimenea Lid - When not using cover this help protect from rain. When in use, stops sparks.

Fireplace Tools - You need tools to stoke fir and to help add logs to fire. Makes putting fire out easier.

Lighting the Fire

Start with small fires in a clay chimenea to give the clay time to cure. Do not use a flammable fire lighter fluid to start your fire. Use smaller pieces of firewood to the start the fire, adding larger pieces once the is going well. Aromatic and specialty firewoods are available for use in chimineas.

Important * Keep your fires small at all times.

Putting the Fire Out in Your Chimenea

Use your fireplace tools to spread out the fire, tur the chiminea rock and smother the fire. Always make sure the fire is completely extinguished before leaving unattended.

Cleaning a Clay Chimenea

Clean out the ashes when needed and once or twice a year seal the clay to preserve the finish and protect from moisture. Be sure to clean your chiminea thoroughly before storing in a protected area.