A chiminea provides a perfect way to bring warmth, light and style to your porch, deck or patio. Whether you want to enjoy a crackling wood fire to warm everyone who stands by, or you want to toast some marshmallows or hot dogs over its flames, a decent chiminea adds great aesthetic appeal to your outdoor space.
When choosing the right chiminea for your home, there are two critical consideration factors to look for: the physical space it’s going to occupy and the primary function of the unit. These two factors should be given equal consideration. For instance, if you’re going to use your chiminea for wood fires, think about where you want to place the unit, and if you have enough space for a firewood rack
. However, if the primary purpose is for decoration, your chiminea can probably go anywhere.
If you have a patio with plenty of room, you may consider a chiminea with a full, 360-degree exposure to the fire tray, which is great for a family gathering. Some families prefer using modern electric fireplaces or inserts
in the living room, but a chiminea provides that extra warmth if you need to take your gathering to the patio or garden.
One thing you should avoid is placing chimineas with all-around exposures in areas where the flames could potentially set something on fire, such as flowers or plants, or your home. However, if the chiminea has enough space around and above it, a bulb-shaped model is ideal because it takes up minimal space.
Consider chimineas with tall chimneys so that smoke and sparks are directed away from the people around it. Some models come with the tops removed, which lets you enjoy them more as a fire pit
. This generates that intimate, nostalgic campfire experience.
With that said, let’s go through the critical features to look for when shopping for a chiminea, starting with price.
Chimineas come in a wide range of prices, from cheap clay models to moderately priced cast iron ones, to extremely expensive, fully decorated chimineas. However, with a budget of between $70 and $450, you can find a quality chiminea that’ll transform your patio into a warm and elegant living space. The main price determinant for chimineas is the material they are made of and the aesthetic value they offer. You can choose between cheap chimineas or moderately priced cast iron models. High-end models will come with elegant decorations as well as extra features, like lids, grill racks, and covers, that let you utilize the chiminea for more than just getting warm.
Apart from price, considering a few critical features will ensure you get a chiminea that best suits your needs.Perhaps most importantly, consider the amount of space you have on your patio or porch before shopping around, as this might eliminate a lot of larger-sized models.
Here are the features to look for:
- Fuel Types – Most chimineas are designed to use coal fuel, but you can get ones that burn firewood/logs, peat, or briquettes.
- Weight –If you want a chiminea that you can easily move around your garden or patio, you should consider lightweight ones. Some may look tall and bulky but are actually not very heavy.Something that weighs between 20 and 40 pounds should be easy enough to move around.
- Accessories – Most come with a grill, but some include a charcoal grill and other accessories. Always check the extra accessories or attachments that a chiminea comes with before you decide on which model to buy. If you’re going to use charcoal as your fuel, consider models with a charcoal grate. If you go with firewood or logs, consider models with a log grate.
Construction and Design
Traditionally, chimineas were made from clay, but modern designs utilize steel and cast iron.Nevertheless, not all chiminea units are built the same. You’ll find different sizes, shapes, and styles. Some designs incorporate more decorative finishes with a contemporary touch, though the performance may not be any different. The idea is to choose a style that will work best for your patio or garden.
- Clay Chimineas– These chimineas are the most traditional and require minimal maintenance. You don’t need to struggle to assemble them as you might with metal units. The only downside to a clay chiminea is that it’s prone to crack if you move it around a lot, or if it falls over.
- Cast Iron Chimineas– These chimineas are less susceptible to cracks and breaks. However, frosting tends to be a major problem as opposed to high temperatures. If you choose a bigger size, you can also use it to do some light barbecue.
- Steel Chimineas– These are the latest design of chimineas and are based on the Mexican design of wood-burning stoves. They are generally made with steel in cast iron.
Larger models burn more fuel, but also heat larger areas. The best size is the size that’ll effectively heat your patio space. For a very large space, you may need to have two chimineas at either end.
Performance and Ease of Use
All chimineas are relatively easy to use and maintain, although clay chimineas are the simplest. You simply need to place the chiminea on its metal stand, add lava stones, put in some fuel, light it up and you can start enjoying your newly-warmed patio. Just be aware that clay units are made to withstand really intense heat, so they’re only in danger of cracking if there’s impact on it.
With proper care and maintenance, any good chiminea should last for several years, whether you’re using it actively for fires or you’ve simply kept it for outdoor decoration.
Be aware that the quickest way to ruin your chiminea is to extinguish the fire using a bucket of water. If a fire is actively burning in a clay chiminea, or the unit is still hot with some residual heat from coal or charcoal, any water poured on it can result in cracks that might permanently ruin it. The secret is to always let the fire die out naturally (and we strongly recommend using a fire extinguisher).
Most chimineas allow for multiple fuel sources, but be sure to use a layer of sand or lava stones on clay chimineas when using charcoal or coal fuels, which generate scorching fires that can leave unsightly black marks on the clay.Use stove paint once in a while to improve the appearance of your clay chiminea, especially if it lives outdoors. Finally, always ensure your chiminea has a cover to protect it from water damage if you plan to leave it outside all year long.
Nothing beats sitting in front of a cozy fireplace during cold winter nights. Now you can enjoy the same ambiance outdoors by purchasing a good chiminea. Whether you’ve got a fire roaring inside it or not, your chiminea will provide a great focal point for any patio or deck space.
For centuries, chimineas have been utilized as central space heaters and ovens for homes as well as huts. These units are still embraced today, although not so much for cooking. Today, they’re used to provide warmth, and to add a certain level of décor and ambiance to your garden. Hopefully, we helped you find the best chiminea that suits your style. If our featured models didn’t cut it, feel free to browse alternative models from our recommended brands for an ideal fit.