All About Chiminea Fire Pits

chimineaA chiminea is an outdoor fire pit or fireplace derived from the traditional Mexican versions. They come in various sizes and made of different materials but all basically have the same structure. They have a bulbous bottom for the fire and a long chimney-like neck. They generally have designs on them and are quite attractive as an outdoor fire pit goes.This type of outdoor fire pit is ideal for a porch, deck or backyard where you want an attractive accent piece which provides warmth to gather around with family and friends. You start your fire in these fire pits the same way you would in your fireplace.

Here are some things to consider when buying one:

  • Size - Chimineas vary in size and you should pay close attention to this detail. While a smaller one may be useful because it will fit on a small porch or deck, it can have drawbacks. Make sure the bottom bowl part is big enough to accommodate pieces of wood the size you will be using. Most firewood is not that small, so a smaller model may be a hassle since you'll need to cut your own wood!
  • Spark Arrestor - Some chimineas come with a spark arrestor (a mesh screen, similar to a fireplace screen) either in the neck or in front of the opening to the bowl or both. If yours does not come with these mesh screens you should consider buying one or making one. I especially recommend this if you are going to be using it near trees or other flammable items. The spark arrestor prevents burning embers from escaping.
  • Material - The classic Mexican version is built out of clay, like terra cotta. This is very attractive but it is not without problems. Clay can crack with time, especially when exposed to the high heat of a fire. They generally cannot handle large fires for extended periods of time. Ask if your chiminea is air-dried or kiln-dried. Kiln-dried models are more likely to be painted and sealed, making them more durable.

    Metal models, usually either cast iron or aluminum, are very durable. They are heavy but don't crack. Aluminum tends to be lighter than cast iron. The downside to a metal model is that they can rust if left outside and exposed to water. Ideally they require a tarp cover to protect it from weather between uses. Alternatively, you can sand out the rust spots and re-paint it. Aluminum models tend to rust less than cast iron.

  • Cooking - One thing to consider when buying any outdoor fire pit is whether you would like to cook on your outdoor fire. A chiminea is not an ideal fire pit for grilling. There is no where to place a grill or rotisserie since the large, long chimney neck is directly over the fire. Theoretically, you can roast hot dogs, sausages or marshmallows over the fire if you have a few long skewers. But if you would like a firepit you can cook on regularly, you should consider another type of fire pit.

Mexican chiminea

Good luck finding a nice outdoor fireplace! They are beautiful additions to any backyard, patio or deck and are fun to sit around for warmth.

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If you are done learning about your Chiminea,
go back to learn more about other Types of Fire Pits.

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