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Chiminea Instructions

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Today as they were over 600 years ago chimineas are still utilized as fireplaces however chimineas are also gaining popularity as decorative accent pieces in the yard and garden. Recently featured in an article in Architectural Digest, chimineas have become revered by some of today's top designers. They can now be seen accommodating everything from a bouquet of flowers to towels in the bath. Chimineas (chim-in-ee-as) or Chimeneas (chim-in-ay-as). There are several ways to spell and pronounce the name but they all refer to the same thing. A Mexican, clay, outdoor fireplace. Chimineas were originally used indoors to take the chill out of the air during the evening hours. In the morning bread was cooked over the hot coals. Some form of Chiminea has been used by many cultures around the world. The chimineas exact date and origin is not known however in one form or another, clay fireplaces have been around for hundreds of years.

Chiminea Materials

Chimineas are currently made of several different materials. Iron and clay seem to be the most popular. Types of clay used in the manufacturing of Chimineas are El Barro and terracotta.

What you NEED to know!

It's been a couple of years now since Chimineas (clay outdoor fireplaces) made their way into the hearth and leisure marketplace. At first you may have noticed them in an occasional hearth store. Next they spread to the local garden center. Now, Chimineas are becoming a regular site everywhere from retail chain stores to home centers. The popularity of Chimineas is still growing and due to this popularity it is more important than ever to make consumers aware of how to use and care for their new "firepot." "I can't tell you how many people ask me if they can burn their Chiminea indoors." Says Gary Lafountain of The Sales Arena a Rhode Island based Distribution Company. "It amazes me that some stores don't give their customers the necessary instructions." As with any product that involves fire it is necessary to use caution and good judgment. Although the vast majority of companies that are offering Chimineas to their retail customers are conscientious there is that occasional instance where a Chiminea is misused due to lack of knowledge. Below you will find detailed information covering the use and care of your firepot. Although these instructions are applicable for most clay Chimineas we suggest that you ask for an instruction sheet from your vendor at the time of purchase. Chiminea Use and Care Instructions: Before you purchase your Chiminea be sure to consult your local fire Marshall. Chimineas are for OUTDOOR USE ONLY and should NEVER be burned indoors! From the moment you purchase your Chiminea there are specific guidelines you should follow.


A large percentage of clay Chimineas are manufactured in two parts. The base or "bowl" and the neck. During the manufacturing process each of these pieces dry separately for several days. After this initial drying process the neck and bowl are fused together into a single unit. When handling a chiminea it is important to never lift from the neck as the bond between the neck and bowl could separate. The best way to carry a Chiminea is to grab hold of the chiminea mouth with one hand and cradle the point where the neck meets the bowl with your other arm.

Transporting your new Chiminea:

Most people are under the impression that they must have a truck or van to transport their Chiminea from the store to their home. This is not the case. In fact it is easier to set the chiminea in a car seat and fasten a seat belt around it much like a person. If the seat belt crosses the Chiminea at the neck be sure and add a little padding.

Positioning your Chiminea:

Most Chimineas come with an iron stand with either three or four legs. Three legged stands tend to be easier to use as they are easier to level however either is fine. Be sure and find a level, immovable surface for which to set your Chiminea. Be sure there is nothing above your chiminea i.e. Branches, awnings, umbrellas or anything else that could potentially catch on fire. Remember do not put your Chiminea in a gazebo or enclosed porch. Set your chiminea a safe distance away from any structures. Now that you have found a suitable location let's get your Chiminea ready for a fire.


It is important to insulate the bowl of the Chiminea so the fire is not directly against the clay. Add sand or pea stone to the bowl until it is 3"-4" below the lower lip of the mouth. Play sand works very well and you can find it at your local home center. Once you have filled your chiminea with sand you must remove the sand to move it.


Next place 2 bricks on their side about 6 inches apart. These will act as the grate and keep wood elevated. You're ready for your first fire.

Start with small fires:

Your first few fires should be relatively small. You want to "season" your chiminea. Build small fires with a couple pieces of kindling. Do this for the first 5-10 fires. Be sure and let the fire burn out naturally. Fat wood, which can be picked up at the local home center, works well for starting Chiminea fires. NEVER use lighter fluid or any other type of flame enhancing material. The clay can absorb the liquid. You're ready for larger fires. Once the Chiminea is seasoned you are ready to burn larger fires. You may burn a few logs making sure to keep them in the center of the "bowl". If flames begin to come out of the neck then your fire is getting too big. Typically this will not damage the Chiminea however we do not recommend fires of this size. Chimineas are meant for small fires. They are not meant as a primary heat source.

What should I burn?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions. There are several types of woods that work great in a Chiminea and a few that are absolutely detrimental to your Chiminea and/or your health. Since most Chimineas cannot accommodate traditional fireplace size logs you must either buy pre-cut Chiminea wood or cut the logs down yourself. A good size range for Chiminea wood is from 9-14 inches in length and 4 inches in diameter. This size may vary depending on the size of the Chiminea mouth.

Do Not Burn:

Pressure treated wood emits toxic gasses when burned. A good rule of thumb is that if it has a greenish tint it may be pressure treated. If you are not sure DON'T burn it! Pellets, which are a type of manufactured wood stove fuel, are not recommended for use in a Chiminea. They tend to burn hot and if the quality is poor they will leave a lot of ash. Most Chiminea manufacturers suggest against burning charcoal.

Types of wood to burn:

There are several types of wood that many people love to burn however extra caution is needed. Red Cedar has a nice aroma and keeps the mosquitos away however it has a tendency to "pop" therefore be sure and have a spark arrestor in or on the neck and a screen over the mouth. Mesquite is an excellent cooking wood for those with grill chimineas but it burns very hot. Be sure and use only a few pieces at a time. Scrap lumber is a popular fuel for chimineas however dry pieces of pine and spruce 2"x4"s, 2"x6"s etc. burn fast and hot. This type of wood can be easily split into small kindling. Green or wet wood causes a lot of smoke, which may annoy neighbors. Pinion Pine Pinion both smells great and wards off mosquitos. This makes it probably the most widely used Chiminea wood. Apple Apple is harder to come by but it is an excellent Chiminea wood. Apple has a wonderful aroma. Alligator Juniper New Mexico Alligator Juniper - This traditional firewood will provide a unique aroma in your fireplace, chiminea, or stove.