When you hear the word ‘chiminea’, it might sound a little bit unfamiliar. But then again, it can also remind you of the word ‘chimney’ and in a way, the two are distant cousins of each other. Yet if they’re not exactly forms of chimneys, what are chimineas used for? Here’s an article that breaks down what a chiminea is and what you need to know when buying one.
A chiminea is a great addition to your backyard, especially during the colder months of the year. They are basically small and portable fireplaces, and they’re different in appearance from fire pits and braziers due to their ‘lightbulb’ or ‘tower’ shape, depending on the style. Just like chimneys are used to warm up your home, chimineas emit flames and serve as warming features in outdoor spaces. And compared to fire pits, chimineas are more contained when igniting due to their smaller-sized opening. They can reach full burn about 15 minutes after igniting, on average.
It’s a fact that chimineas have existed for hundreds of years, and they originated in Mexico where people used them as indoor stoves for cooking. But unlike the chimineas we know of today, Mexican chimineas typically were made out of clay, which perfectly suited the warm and dry climate. You might still be able to find these clay versions, but nowadays the chimineas that dominate the market are made with various alternative materials like cast iron, copper, aluminium and steel, which make them appropriate for a variety of outdoor conditions.
Regarding their unique shape, chimineas function by means of interplay between the top area with designated holes or outlets and fire chamber underneath. This causes the smoke to actually travel up and straight out the ‘chimney’ structure rather than spreading in all directions, as is the case with fire pits. Furthermore, the current makes it so more air is circulated over the fuel, and this allows the fire to burn more intensely for a shorter time. Therefore, their self-contained design and portability makes them a must-have for many households. People mainly use them as a focal piece for backyards and patios, to keep guests warm while gathering outside the home.
While there is no fixed rule with regards to which material works best for a chiminea, it’s worth noting that in general, metal types have longer lifespans as they are far less prone to cracking. The downside, however, is they may require maintenance more frequently than clay-based chimineas.
Nevertheless, there’s something to be said about steel chimineas, particularly those made from weather resistant steel. These come with some advantages, such as how the top layer of the material reacts with atmospheric elements to generate a protective layer that’s rust-coloured. Not only does this provide a consistent, pleasing kind of finish but it makes the steel practically maintenance free. Naked Flames offers two styles of chimineas, the Fire Master and Callida, both of which are constructed using Corten A steel. This steel is weather resistant and designed to bear a natural, rustic appearance.
There’s a balance you want to strike here. You want to consider a spot that you feel best suits your backyard arrangement and the actual area where you and your guests will be gathering. But also, bear in mind certain measures that must be taken to keep the safety and practicality of the setup in check. Firstly, you want any fire implementation positioned such that it is clearly noticeable from any part of the backyard you may be on. Also, to be extra safe, it’s wise to place the chiminea somewhere that allows the flames to be visible from inside your home.
Next, consider the very surface which the chimineas will be placed on. If your space outdoors happens to be a wood deck or terrace, you need to place fire-safe pavers over a small area to serve as a platform or patio hearth. Place your chiminea on the hearth while ensuring there are no eaves, a patio roof or some form of overhead cover which could catch fire.
Like other appliances you spend good money on, remember to do a bit of spot checking upon receiving your chiminea so as to avoid unforeseen problems later on, when you start using it for your house gatherings. Did everything arrive in great condition? Was it cast or put together neatly and properly? Some details to watch out for are any dents in the chamber, and whether the funnel is crooked or looks to be too thick or too thin compared with the rest of the body. If these might not be exactly what you expected, then consult the use manual or refer to pictures of the product just to be sure. The key is finding out if anything appears faulty or damaged.
Does any part of the entire structure seem crooked or misshapen? That’s another issue you don’t want with your chiminea, as in order for its funnel-like ‘chimney’ to function properly, it should be set up in a straight and upright fashion. Otherwise, smoke can potentially blow towards the wrong spots of your backyard or patio, where guests may be located.
Finally, is the chamber for burning wood exactly the size you expected it to be? Hopefully, that size is sufficient for fitting in standard wood pieces as that would make things easier. But even if the size isn’t meant for standard pieces, you still order special, smaller sized wood chunks or chop up bigger pieces yourself. Just make sure you have a good stack of wood prior to your next house gathering.
If you happen to own a clay type of chiminea, you can take some measures to prolong its lifespan and prevent it from cracking early on. Before you first use it, apply an acrylic finish or sealer, then reapply it every 6-8 weeks during seasons of use. The purpose of this is to protect your chiminea from exposure to water and moisture, which softens the clay over time. Moreover, it's worth buying a chiminea cover to serve as an extra layer of protection. During rainy weather, don’t forget to store together with other patio furniture inside a shed or garage.
As for the ashes from the chamber of your chiminea, make it a point to clean them out after each usage so as to avoid buildup. Place some sand, fire glass, pea gravel or lava rock at the bottom of the pit for the ashes to be collected. Once your chiminea has cooled down, you can either get the ash out by raking or remove the contents completely by washing. Either one is an effective method.
So, are you convinced that a chiminea is worth buying? Naked Flames can provide you with high quality chimineas, braziers and outdoor fire pits that come in various shapes and styles. There is definitely something worth checking out for all households that enjoy hosting parties and gatherings. Click here to view our entire collection of products available.