Yes, with some common sense and basic guidelines, chimineas are a safe way to enjoy a real fire in your outdoor space.
Obviously, when dealing with fire of any kind there are safety risks so it’s well worth taking the time to inform yourself and minimise the chance of any accidents.
Chiminea Safe Distance
Deciding on where to place your chiminea in your garden is an important decision as we have to make sure there’s sufficient space around and above your outdoor fireplace.
You should aim for your chiminea to be placed at least 6 feet (1.8 metres) away from any buildings or fences. As for a safe distance above your chiminea – there must be clear sky above. This one’s non-negotiable. Even in an open patio with an awning, carbon monoxide can build up quickly if the air space above your chiminea is obstructed in any way.
Chiminea stability is essential. You’ll notice that most models have 3 legs which add to their stability, however, their height and size mean that they do present the hazard of knocking them over. Cast iron chimineas are usually very heavy and pose less of a topple risk, but for lighter chimineas, it’s something you should be mindful of and no matter what kind of chiminea you have it’s essential that it’s on a flat, stable surface.
Is it Safe to Use a Chiminea on a Wood Deck?
No. It’s never a good idea to place a chiminea directly onto a wooden deck. Wood is a highly flammable material and should not be the surface of choice for your chim.
However, it is possible to use a chiminea on a wooden deck if you create a stone hearth or use a heatproof mat.
Can I use Petrol in a chiminea?
No. Do not use fire accelerants of any kind in your chiminea. They can cause the temperature to rise too quickly causing heat shock and also present a danger as gases can collect in the fire bowl and boom! grandmas eyebrows are gone.
How to Extinguish a Chiminea Fire Safely
The safest way to put out a chiminea fire is to let it die down naturally. As well as being the least labour intensive of your options, it’s also the perfect way for your chiminea to cool down gradually.
Keep in mind that it might take up to an hour or more for your fire to completely die down on its own.
Plan ahead and think about when to stop adding fuel keeping in mind that it may take over an hour to do so. You’ll get more feel for how long your fire takes to down the more you use it.
If you do have to put out the fire quickly, use sand or soil to smother the fire. Ideally, you should always have the means to put out the fire nearby, in case of emergencies.
Only use water as a last resort as the less contact chimineas have with water, the better. No matter the material, it gets in there and then will gradually start to change the structural integrity of your chim. This then dramatically shortens the life span of your chiminea – don’t get them wet.
How to Light a Chiminea Safely
Here’s another article on how to light a chiminea safely.
Can you Leave a Chiminea Unattended?
No. As advised in their article: ‘STAY SAFE USING BARBECUES AND CHIMINEAS THIS SUMMER’ Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service:
‘Watch it burn – never leave a fire unattended, whether it is a barbecue or in a chiminea’Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Can I use a Chiminea under an Awning?
No. It is imperative that chimineas are used in a well-ventilated, outdoor space that does not have any overhanging coverage directly above it.
Can I make a Big Fire in a Chiminea?
No. Chimineas are small, wood-burning fireplaces that are cleverly designed to work efficiently by burning small fires. The minute you see flames coming out the top of your chimney stack, your fire is TOO BIG!
Do I need a Chiminea Spark Arrestor?
Yes. Chiminea spark arrestors are small grates that sit inside the chimney stack near the top and they are designed to catch any stray little sparks that were thinking of escaping.
The good news is most chimineas come with them already installed.
Are Chimineas Safe for Dogs?
Yes, for responsible pet owners, chimineas can be perfectly safe. Take the proper precautions and teach your dog not to go near the chiminea. With more challenging, younger dogs, you can set up a fireguard or simply keep your dog inside if you are worried about them being near the fire.
Is a Cracked Chiminea Safe to Use?
No. It’s potentially very dangerous to use a cracked chiminea. As soon as the structural integrity of your chiminea is damaged, cracks need to be fixed before you use your chiminea.
Small hairline cracks however are common, particularly on clay chimineas. Keep a close eye on them and consider patching them before they get worse.
Check out the article on repairing a clay chiminea for more info.
Chiminea Safety Tips
- Never try to move a chiminea when it’s lit
- Always pick up a chiminea carefully and never by the chimney stack
- Always have a fire tool handy that will help you control the fire
- Always remove the lid before lighting your chiminea
- Never use a chiminea indoors
- Never use flame accelerants to start the fire
- Remind children and guests of the danger of the hot surface
- Keep pets under control
- Keep any flammable items at a safe distance
- Always keep your eyes on the fire, even if it is from your kitchen window
- Drunk people and fires do not mix well together
Although it may seem like a lot, most of it is common fire sense. Stay safe everyone and enjoy your chimineas!
If you need more information on chiminea safety, check out my other article.