Originating in Mexico, chimineas are structures that have evolved from functional ovens to beautiful backyard fireplaces. Chimineas are typically made of clay. The lower portion of the structure is rounded like a sphere. The upper portion has a stack or chimney. There is an opening on one side for adding fuels like wood and charcoal. When lit, chimineas provide a steady and safe heating source for an outdoor area.
Although chimineas look like they were designed for aesthetics, the structure is designed for clean, hot burning fires. The updraft in the chimney, or stack, keeps air moving from the outside through the chiminea. The cooler air from outside is drawn into the fire, heated, and rises up the chimney. The moving air keeps the fire burning hot. The clever design also keeps ash from leaking out of the front. The stack provides another functional benefit, sending the plumes of smoke over the heads of nearby people. Chimineas provide a hot burning fire with minimal ash and smoke.
Chimineas have become a popular way to heat outdoor areas. They are now sold in various designs and materials. While the basic structure remains the same, some vendors add complex abstract designs to the stack or design a face around the opening. Clay is the most authentic material for chimineas, but aluminum and cast iron chimineas have recently become an option. Each has its own benefits. With proper care, an authentic clay chiminea can last years and doesn’t rust. Cast iron chimineas have a unique modern look but are heavy and liable to rust. Aluminum chimineas also provide a modern look with less weight and less liability to rust. There are many variables to consider when purchasing a chiminea to heat and enliven your outdoor area.
Similar to any fireplace, chimineas do require upkeep and maintenance. Clay chimineas must be warmed to the task of containing hot fires. Building small fires for the first few times allows the chiminea to adjust to the demands of a hot fire. It is also recommended that clay chimineas be moved inside when it’s cold because clay can become brittle under cold temperatures. Aluminum and cast iron chimineas also require upkeep. For example, maintaining a rust-proofing coating on cast iron chiminea is necessary to keep it from rusting. The upkeep is generally minimal and a little love can allow a chiminea to work properly for a decade.
To learn more about chimineas, including their history and detailed maintenance tips, please feel free to explore this website or email me with any questions.