WHAT IS A SMALL CHIMINEA AND WHY DO PEOPLE BUY THEM?
Small chimineas (or chimeneas) are cheaper and shorter than their larger brothers and usually no bigger than about 75cm in height. They usually have a decent-sized fire bowl but a much shorter chimney stack making them look quite squat in stature.
They are not only a great decorative asset, but also handy for outdoor gatherings during the autumn and winter. Seasonal shifts won’t prevent you from enjoying an outdoor gathering in the open air of your urban flat. This factor is what makes chimineas such a sought-after item, especially as we head into the colder months.
Small chimineas still do a great job of directing smoke away from surrounding guests and keeping them toasty. Their small size makes them much more accessible to those with limited garden or patio space and can be perfect for a first chiminea.
They are usually cheaper and also easier to lift inside if storing them undercover for the winter.
What are Small Chiminea Made of?
Apart from the traditional fired clay, modern chimineas also come in metal builds. Cast iron and steel are the most common metals used in the UK, and they’re set to provide more durability than clay.
Mexican-styled small, clay chimineas are mostly sought after due to their rustic look, but they can be prone to damages while shipping. Also, they do need to be handled and used carefully (only using small fires) due to the nature of clay cracking.
Of all the metal chimineas on the market, cast iron ones are the most enduring, capable of withstanding harsh weather, but they are on the heavy side, compromising portability. Small steel chimineas are usually inexpensive and easy to move around when not in use.
Our first chiminea was a small, steel one from B&Q. It’s the perfect size for first-time chiminea users and ideal for a small urban patio. Small fires make the heat easy to control, and you can even roast some marshmallows if the mood takes you.
What are the Limitations of Small Chimineas?
One of the biggest limitations of small chimineas is their cooking capabilities. Few of them are optimised for BBQ grills, partly because of the lower heat output, but, most importantly, because of the lack of space necessary to use cooking accessories. Additionally, the way they’re set up makes it impractical to cook anything on them apart from small items.
However, there are still things you can cook on a small chiminea – toasting marshmallows of course and you can also do some cooking in the fire itself eg. baked potatoes.
Keep in mind that small chimineas will have a lower heat output to the surrounding area. In general, in the UK in autumn you’ll find a small chiminea on the patio is sufficient to heat a small group of people….but for larger groups, not so much. They will struggle to heat the surrounding area in winter.
If you’re looking for a chiminea gift you might like this article.
BEST SMALL CHIMINEAS IN STOCK
To help you with your quest for a small chiminea, I’ve researched what’s available in stock.
This is a selection of the 6 best small chimineas I could find. They can all be fuelled by dried wood which is perfect for keeping your smoke profile down in urban areas.
This very compact cast iron chiminea has had amazing reviews on Amazon. It’s ideal to carry around, as it’s very light (mostly due to its small dimensions). On top of that, its material retains heat longer so it wastes less fuel long-term. Furthermore, it comes with a protective mesh door for extra safety.
A word of caution: Only the legs are made of cast iron, so the description is not 100% accurate. This is often the case with small steel chimineas as they make the legs out of cast iron to give them much-needed stability. Just be aware of this and read the description carefully when buying a small steel chiminea.
This small chiminea is currently available on the Primrose website for just over £100. A bit more money here, but this one is made of mostly cast iron which gives it that extra durability, and also solid appearance.
On this model the legs are steel and the body is cast iron and it has the addition of the hinged door with handle making it super easy to control the fire. Steel legs keep the weight down a tad (but this will still be substantially heavier than steel varieties. However, still portable enough to store away for winter.
This small clay chiminea from La Hacienda is available from B&Q for just £45 but if you want it ASAP be ready to pay a premium on Amazon.
It comes with a stand and a rain lid and is an excellent price for a first chiminea. The reviews are littered with unhappy customers but unfortunately, a lot of first-time users don’t know how delicate clay chiminea can be.
You MUST properly cure a clay chiminea before use, use sand in the bottom AND only have small fires. Not following these instructions will quickly lead to cracks.
Still, it looks cool and there’s no assembly required…and they’ll even deliver it!
This is another small steel chiminea offering from La Hacienda on Amazon. It gets really good reviews and people report good things about it’s durability and portability.
Ideal for a small patio, it’s easy to put together and again comes with a rain lid, mesh door and a fire tool.
Don’t be too shocked when it arrives in a small box as it is shipped in pieces. however, instructions are clear and it doesn’t take long to put together.
This little gem is available now from Amazon or Not on the High street. The reviews are great and people really love this little chim as a feature in their garden.
Please note it will require a thorough curing process and extra care to keep the rain off it, but it’s a lovely little starter chim to brighten up your garden.
It comes with a steel stand and rain lid. Not on the high street is a reputable online store and you should have no problems ordering – current price on Amazon about £80.
Although slightly taller than the typical small chiminea at 89cm, this steel 360 design is worth including especially for those who are trying to decide between a fire pit and a chiminea for their small patio.
The 360 mesh view allows for a lovely ambiance in the evening and can use coal in these making up for lower heat output.
It comes with a lid, a mesh door that opens and closes, and a fire tool. Although slightly larger than the others, as it’s made of steel it’s easily stored for the winter.
Small chimineas are perfect for your first-time chiminea as they offer a cheap entry point and when you consider all the other things you need to buy; wood, kindling, etc a small chiminea for your patio is the perfect way to get your feet wet in the world of chimineas.
I hope this article has been useful in helping you choose a chiminea that’s small enough for your outdoor area – remember even though they are small, chimineas should not be used indoors or in a covered patio area. For more info on chiminea safety check out my full guide here.