Chiminea Care and Usage

DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT CHIMINEAS? YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT CHIMINEAS? This is a list of questions we get asked often. If you have a question, comment or concern that isn't address here please email me Julie Jarvis, vice president Dancing Fire Inc. jjarvis@dancingfire.com

A LITTLE HISTORY ABOUT THE CHIMINEA MARKET!

Clay chimineas have been given a bad rap. I have heard stories about the clay chimineas having problems. Like cracking, dissolving clay, bad paint and such. This is a true and a valid point but in my opinion these problems are gone (for the most part). The clay Chiminea "FAD" took off like lightning several years ago. The demand was greater then the supply so consequently the quality of the clay Chiminea took a hit. Plus, and more importantly is the fact that the consumer was not given the proper instructions on how to use and care for the clay Chiminea. Clay Chimineas are awesome and I don't have any problems with them but it's just like most everything- READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. And that brings up another good point about clay chimineas. No assemble is required.

I have had a Chiminea for at least 8 years. The quality of this Chiminea isn't the greatest I have seen, but it has character and we like it. It's been part of the family and we've had great memories. We take care of it. We do some simple, periodical maintenance, that's all. It looks almost as good today as it did when I bought it. So I am more inclined to believe that it's not the bad quality of the Chiminea that gives it a bad name but rather the method of which they are taken care of. Yes, quality is extremely important, but a good quality Clay Chiminea will fall apart from lack of attention just as easy as one of a lesser quality. It's not a lot of maintenance but it's important.How to take care of my Clay Chiminea?

During the evolution of the CHIMINEA FAD the word spread on CLAY CHIMINEAS having problems. Then along came the cast iron Chiminea. BOOM! The FAD is off again. Cast iron chimineas are selling very well. Sells of clay Chiminea aren't doing as well and this is a shame. Yes clay chimineas have had problems but it's not like it use to be. Cast Iron chimineas have problems as well. See What's Wrong With Cast Iron Chimineas And when you weigh the pros and cons of both Chiminea, I, Me personally would prefer the clay Chiminea. If for no other reason then safety issues. In my opinion cast iron chimineas have the potential of being very dangerous. The cast iron Chiminea gets extremely hot- blistering hot and without the proper supervision (totally, 100% attended to by an adult) the damage a cast iron Chiminea can do could be devastating. Much more dangerous then the clay chiminea.

Clay chimineas have character. Each is hand made, not molded or poured into a mold. No assembly is required. Assembling a cast iron Chiminea right out of the box can be Enduring at best. Good word, Huh? Enduring! I hate Enduring "Some assembly required". I know there's times we all must endure SOME assembly but why if we don't have too. Clay chimineas come with no assembly required. They are safer. They are more user friendly. You have access to many more different varieties. Inventory is more consistent. Almost every commercial site on the Internet, that retails cast iron chimineas, use the same supplier. We are an independent, stocking clay chiminea distributor. We control the inventory.

CLAY CHIMINEA vs. CAST IRON CHIMINEAS

There is pro's and con's to clay chimineas and cast iron chimineas. Your needs for an outdoor fireplace are going to be different then my needs. A cast iron chiminea can work for you very well but not quite as well for myself. Vice , Versa. I will try to share with you what I have learned about cast iron chimineas and clay chimineas. The ultimate decision is yours and I believe knowing the facts can help you make a better, informed decision. Chimineas are not cheap and buying a chiminea that's wrong for your needs is no good. Compare the facts and realize these are just some comparisons.

Cast Iron Chimineas

PRO CON
Won't rack or break as easy as a clay chiminea Very dangerous when in use. opening the door and adding firewood could be painful and blistering
Easy to repaint After prolong usage the paint burns off. Cast iron will rust very rapidly. Stains
Delivered via UPS or FEDEX. Cheaper freight. Assembly required 2 to 6 hours. May need to re-drill holes.
Longer life span. A Cast Iron Chiminea will no doubt last longer the Clay Chiminea When cast iron chimineas rust, they will stain the deck when it rains.

Clay Chimineas

A lot safer then a Cast Iron Chiminea. Does not get as hot as easily as a Cast Iron Chiminea

Can break if not handle correctly
It's easy to paint. Paint can fade.
Looks better the longer you use the clay Chiminea. Life expectancy is shorter then a Cast Iron Chiminea.
The Clay Chiminea is a work of art, each is unique. Its not as utilitarian Requires some maintenance

 

WHERE TO BUY A CHIMINEA Dancing Fire Inc. carries a wide variety of both clay and cast iron chimineas. They ship to your door and it's easy online ordering visit

I HAVE A CLAY CHIMINEA. WHAT DO I NEED TO USE IT SAFELY.
Let's assume you just bought a Chiminea and it came with no instructions. Or you just want to know how to use a clay chiminea safely and your doing research. Now what do you do to get started? If you are looking to buy a clay chiminea visit and we'll be happy to ship you one. You need to get some stuff before burning a fire in a clay chiminea. All of this is also available online at

Sealer This is used to protect the clay from moisture. Adds to life of Chiminea. recommended
Chiminea Rock Put this in the bowl of the chiminea before lighting a fire. Keeps the coals off clay. must have
A Cover Protects chiminea from sun and helps keep moisture from clay. recommended
A Chiminea Lid When not using cover this help protect from rain. And its a spark arrester. recommended
Fireplace Tools You need tools to stoke fir and to help add logs to fire. Makes putting fire out easier. must have

Make sure the Clay Chiminea is sealed, if it's not sealed i would recommend getting some sealer and sealing the clay. This will help protect the clay from absorbing moisture. This is a good thing to do from the get go. First find a good logical, practical, safe location to set your clay Chiminea. Look around, is this location ok if ashes fall out the front. Will you start something on fire? If this is on a wood deck you should build a hearth under and around the Chiminea. You can use bricks, flat rocks etc. Just make sure it's fire proof just in case some hot ashes fall out the front. Make sure ashes blowing out the top won't land in any nearby landscaping or leaves. But it's also important to put the clay Chiminea where it can be enjoyed. The point is to just beware of your surroundings because of the fire. Set the Chiminea so it doesn't rock and it's good and stable. Fill the bottom of the Clay Chiminea bowel with rock sand or pea gravel. Fill the Chiminea so the Chiminea rock fills all but about an inch or so from the bottom of the opening. You want the Chiminea bowel this full. This will do several things. When the fire is burning it will keep the hot coals from direct contact with the clay. The clay won't get as hot and will last longer. Also, when the fire is burning you want the top of the flames to be over the top of the opening. This keeps the smoke from coming out the front and smoking up your patio. All the smoke is blown out the top of the clay chiminea by the force from the fire. So now you should be ready to build a fire in your clay chiminea.

I HAVE A CAST IRON CHIMINEA. WHAT DO I DO TO USE IF SAFELY?

First find a good logical, practical, safe location to set your cast iron chiminea. Look around, is this location ok if ashes fall out the front. Will you start something on fire? If this is on a wood deck you should build a hearth under and around the Chiminea. You can use bricks, flat rocks etc. Just make sure it's fire proof just in case some hot ashes fall out the front. Make sure ashes blowing out the top won't land in any nearby landscaping or leaves. But it's also important to put the cast iron chiminea where it can be enjoyed. The point is to just beware of your surroundings because of the fire. Set the Chiminea so it doesn't rock and it's good and stable. The cast iron chiminea should have come with a grill. Most do, some don't. If you have a grill make sure its inside the bowl of the chiminea. If you do not have a grill use Chiminea rock sand or pea gravel. Fill the Chiminea so the Chiminea rock fills all but about an inch or so from the bottom of the opening. You want the Chiminea bowel this full. This keeps the smoke from coming out the front and smoking up your patio. All the smoke is blown out the top of the cast iron chiminea by the force from the fire. So now you should be ready to build a fire in your cast iron chiminea.

HOW TO START MY CHIMINEA?

Let's build a fire! This is how I light my chiminea fire. I get some firewood. We sell and I prefer Pinon Firewood. See Pinon firewood here it's some really awesome firewood. The aroma is wonderful. Easy to start, burns good and smells awesome. Smaller pieces of firewood work better. About the size of a baseball. Most of the time I will use a fire starter to ignite the Pinon firewood. I use a 100% natural fire starter sticks called FATWOOD. See here for fatwood Do not use a flammable lighter fluid. Please! The fatwood sticks are about 9 inches long. I use a couple of sticks and light one end. I get the flame going so its steady. I place the sticks into the chiminea rock in the bowl of the chiminea, flame up. I then place small chucks of firewood around the fatwood fire starter sticks so there's contact with the fire from the fatwood. This usually gets the pinon firewood going. Very simple and easy. Some times I might have to add so more fatwood sticks but usually two sticks does the trick.

KEEP THE FIRST FIRES SMALL

This is important so the clay has a chance to cure better. You will notice the longer you use you clay chiminea it will take on it's cured color. All clay chimineas will turn, some how, some way and this is a good thing. These changes are taking place while you are making memories. This is what makes your chiminea, your chiminea.

DO YOU KNOW A PYROMANIAC?

Some people, such as myself, believe that if a small fire is fun a bigger fire ought to be more fun. Of coarse I am going to say don't build big fires but if you know a pyromaniac you need to approach with caution. Get to know your clay chiminea. I have personally built fires in my chiminea that was too big. You are taking  risks and its not recommended.

PUTTING THE FIRE OUT IN YOUR CLAY CHIMINEA

It's late, time to go to bed. The chiminea is burning and you need to put out the fire. I have s set of fireplace tools. See fireplace tools. I use the porker and spread out the fire. then I will use the shovel and turn of the chiminea rock and this will smother the fire. Always make sure the fire is completely extinguished before leaving unattended.

HOW TO TAKE CARE OF MY CLAY CHIMINEA?

The worse enemy of a clay chiminea other then dropping it, is water. The clay chiminea will absorb the water and make it softer. The absorbed moisture has the potential of freezing in cold conditions and possibly cracking and, or breaking. Building a fire in a clay chiminea with heavy moisture saturation could also damage the chiminea.

CHIMINEA SEALER

The clay chiminea should be protected from water as much as practically possible. The best method is to be sure the clay chiminea is sealed. This protects and seals the clay so when it rains the water runs off just like a freshly waxed car. But this sealer will wear off and must be re-applied. This is the most important part of keeping your clay chiminea in good condition. Keeping it sealed. The life of the sealer depends on a lot of factors, usage is one, not being covered is another. The chiminea sealer will usually last about 3 to 4 months with average weekend usage before needing to be re-applied.

CLAY CHIMINEA COVERS

Covering your clay chiminea is very important. See chiminea covers here.This will prolong the life of the clay chiminea sealer and protect the clay from the UV rays from the sun. The paint will last longer as well. I usually keep my clay chiminea covered during the week but on Friday we usually take the cover off. During the weekend we just use a chiminea lid for rain protection. Recover the clay chiminea during the week. This seems to be the routine our family has adapted and the clay chiminea looks like new.

CLEANING THE CLAY CHIMINEA

Most of the time the clay chiminea cleans itself. sounds funny but the wind will usually clean the ashes and every once in awhile I might have to clean the rock. I will shovel out the rock from the clay chiminea into a bucket and rinse them off with water. I'll let the rock dry and put the rock back into the bowel of the clay chiminea.

 

HOW TO TAKE CARE OF MY CAST IRON CHIMINEA?

Cast Iron Chimineas don't need to be sealed like clay chimineas but they have their own problems. RUST! After a period of use the cast iron chiminea bowel and, or the other components of the chiminea i.e. smoke stack, the wire screen door, the cap on top, will rust. Some new cast iron chimineas have better paint then others and they will last longer. But it's inevitable, something on that cast iron chiminea will rust sooner or later. You must deal with this rust. Rust never dies, it will not go away till the whole chiminea is rusted away. The only economical method i know is to use some heat resistant paint and repaint as needed. Most hardware stores carry the paint in a FEW different colors. Chances are, you are not going to match the original color of the cast iron chiminea. This is also something to think about when you are buying a cast iron chiminea. When the chiminea rust what color am i going to use to repaint with? Do i want to deal with this? It's going to happen sooner or later. It's just nice to know this before you make an investment.

COVERING YOUR CAST IRON CHIMINEA

This will help prolong the need for repainting.See chiminea covers here This will also help prevent the rust, if there is any, from getting wet and dripping onto the deck underneath the chiminea. I would highly suggest a cover. Most cast Iron Chimineas come with lids and I don't think it's as important as they are with clay chimineas. Covers Yes, lid not as important.

CLEANING THE CAST IRON CHIMINEA

Make sure all the coals are cooled off and just shovel out all the ashes, rinse off the grill and the chiminea and put them back together.

MY CLAY CHIMINEA HAS A CRACK IN IT. WHAT NOW?

Cracks? Cracks in clay chimineas? It is an interesting topic. I have seen chimineas last years with cracks in them. I have seen chimineas crumble from cracks. Its your judgment call. There are reasons for cracks and depending on how that crack there has an impact on its safety. After the clay is formed into a chiminea cured its cooked in a large kiln. The intense heat with a multitude of variable will cause the clay to crack. Sometimes in many pieces. Sometimes no cracks at all. I believe these types of cracks are not aren't as severe as a crack from dropping the clay chiminea. Example: If you move your chiminea and its set down a little to hard and it cracks (you may not even notice or see the crack) chances are that when you build a fire in the chiminea the crack will grow. But a crack from the cooking process in the kiln i don't think those cracks will grow. With this thought in mind let's go to repairing cracks. If you have a crack from whatever reason and you want to at least attempt repairing the cracks i would try several products. The best i have seen so far that holds up is automotive bondo. I have never used it and can tell you nothing about how to use it and what to look out for. It appears to be a no-brainer but check with the sales person that sells the product. Automotive parts supply store? Cleaned the cracks of any debris. Get a good, clean, bondable surface. Apply bondo according to the instructions and let dry. Sand smooth and finish! I have heard of using concrete repair products. You can get this at most hardware supply stores. Try a two part epoxy glue. You have nothing to loose. If it works great, if not, well - you tried. I am sorry to say I have no sure fire method of repairing cracks but try- it could work.

I WANT TO PAINT MY CLAY CHIMINEA?

This is a question I get a lot. Yes you paint your chiminea. With what kind of paint? I would use a latex but any kind will work as long as you like the results. I have seen clay chimineas in numerous different fashions. The finish is almost a trade mark of the artist that made the chiminea. It seems everyone has their own style. Before you paint the real thing try a practice piece on an old clay pot or something similar. This is one method I like. To completely repaint the entire chiminea I would find the color I am trying to achieve and find that same tint but a much brighter version. And get a couple of colors like red and yellow, or red and green. Paint the subject. Keep it simple. Use a rag and toss it on the subject. Use both or all of the colors till you get the coverage you are looking for. Let the paint dry. Make some real wet mud. Depending on the color of earth you use will change the color of the end product. Mix the mud so its wet and toss the mud all over the chiminea. Let dry. Use a can of spray lacquer and spray the chiminea with dry mud on it. the lacquer will melt thru the mud and give the chiminea a rustic look. Here's the catch. The artist I have seen use this technique make it look really easy, and I am sure it is, but I think it may take some practice. Bottom line here is keep it simple, be creative and experiment.

I WANT TO PAINT MY CAST IRON CHIMINEA?

Go to your local hardware store an ask the cleric to show you the heat resistant spray paint. Colors are going to be limited. While your at the store get some fine grit sand paper or some steel wool. Wipe off any dirt on the chiminea and sand the rust spots smooth. Sand any other rough spot you might see. Wipe off the chiminea with a rug. Get the chiminea good and clean and dry. Spray the chiminea with the heat resistant paint according to the instructions on the can. Try experimenting with different colors at the same time.

WHAT IS PINON FIREWOOD?

Pinon is a tree grown in the mountains of New Mexico. It makes are very pleasant firewood especially for burning in chimineas. Pinon firewood is easy to start, has an awesome aroma, and burns wonderfully. Most people enjoy Pinon for the aroma. It usually comes per-cut just for chimineas.

SOME OTHER USEFUL TIPS

We suggest you bring it indoors when freezing temperatures are predicted. Clay is breakable- and freezes are a problem. Use GOOD common sense when using the chiminea. Start with a small fire and let the clay get use to the heat. Just like if you pour hot water on a frozen windshield- it'll break. If your chiminea is not in a covered area we suggest you put a cover over the top to prevent the rain from filling the bowl. Small chimineas are for small fires. Bigger chimineas are for small fire also. Do not build big fire

 

 

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