Clay chimineas 101 - a beginner's guide to safe use

Clay chimineas 101 – a beginner’s guide to safe use

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If you are new to owning a clay chiminea, you might have some questions about how to use it safely. Here are some essential safety FAQs to help you out.

Can my clay chiminea explode?

In short, yes it can! While chimineas are designed for small fires, if you build a fire that is too big, the clay can heat up too quickly and cause the chiminea to crack, shatter, or even explode. Flying shards of hot pottery are not a welcome addition to a cosy, outdoor gathering, so it’s best to keep your chim fire small and neat. Just be patient and let the chiminea heat up fully.

Additionally, if you try to cool down a hot chiminea too quickly, it can also crack or break from heat stress. It’s best to let it cool down slowly and naturally after use. Never throw water over it! Once the flames have died down, it’s safe to leave the chiminea unattended.

Can I still use a cracked chiminea?

If your chiminea has suffered from heat stress and developed a small crack, you can try repairing it. Check out our blog post on how to mend a broken clay chiminea for more information. However, if the crack is severe, it may be best to dispose of the chiminea and get a new one.

What is a clay chiminea made from?

A clay chiminea is, as the name suggests, made of clay. More specifically, it’s made from a type of pottery called terra cotta. This type of pottery is fired at high temperatures, usually between 950-1100C, and is typically a reddish colour due to a high iron content. The clay used to make chimineas is around 2-2.5cm thick.

How long do clay Chimineas last?

When used frequently and properly cared for, a clay chiminea should last at least five years. But with the right maintenance, and if you take it inside for winter, it can last even longer!

Can I paint my clay chiminea?

Yes, you can! In fact, some people love to paint their chimineas to give them a fun, unique look. You can use ordinary household emulsion paint, masonry paint, or even heat-resistant paint if you like. Just make sure to let the chiminea cool down completely before you start painting.

Read more about painting your clay chiminea here.

Do I have to put sand or volcanic rocks in the bottom of my clay chiminea?

Yes, it’s essential to protect the bottom of your chim to add a layer of sand or volcanic rocks to the bottom of your chiminea. You can add some fire bricks to build your fire on, which will raise up your fire and improve ventilation. By doing this you protect the clay from heat stress. It also stops your fire from sitting below the clay chiminea opening and you’ll get a much better view of the fire. You’ll need around 8cm of sand or rocks to get the best protection.

clay chiminea with a small fire

Is it OK to put my chiminea on a wooden or composite deck?

Of course you can, as long as you use a protective layer like sand or a fire pit pad to keep your deck safe from scorches and burns. And don’t forget to double-check that your steel stand is standing straight and steady on the surface – we don’t want any accidents! Just use your common sense and you’ll be enjoying cosy fires on your deck in no time.

Are Clay Chimineas Safer Than Firepits?

Well, it depends on how you use them! Both clay chimineas and fire pits can be perfectly safe when used properly, but they do have some differences. For example, clay chimineas are typically made of thick, heat-resistant clay that can withstand high temperatures, while fire pits are often made of metal or stone.

This means that clay chimineas are less likely to get damaged or crack from heat stress, but they can still break if you’re not careful. So, to answer your question, clay chimineas can be safer than fire pits if you use them responsibly and follow the safety guidelines. Just remember to keep your fire small, let the chiminea heat up slowly, and never leave it unattended – and you’ll be able to enjoy cosy fires all season long!”

What can you not do with a Clay chiminea?

Well, there are a few things to avoid if you want to keep your chiminea in good knick and use it safely. First of all, don’t build a fire that’s too big – this can be a recipe for disaster and cause the clay to heat up too quickly and potentially crack or even shatter your lovely chiminea.

Never try to cool down a hot chiminea by throwing water on it – this can also cause it to crack or break from heat stress. The fast change in temperature can cause heat shock and clay is not designed to cope with this.

It’s best to let the chiminea cool down slowly over time and don’t rush it. Also, avoid using your clay chiminea as a barbecue or grill – it’s really not designed for that. You can’t use charcoal in clay chims which can make cooking more of a challenge.

And last but not least, never leave a fire in your chiminea unattended – always keep a close eye on it and make sure it’s completely out before you leave it alone.

How far away from the house should a Clay chiminea be?

Generally, you should place your chiminea at least one metre (three feet) away from any combustible materials, including your house, deck, or garden fence. This gives you plenty of space to enjoy your cosy fires without worrying about any potential mishaps. Read about chimineas causing fire here. Keeping your fire a reasonable size and making sure you don’t have flames shooting out the top will help keep things under control.

Use your common sense and just remember to keep it a safe distance from your house.

How many Logs Should I Use in a Clay Chiminea?

One or two logs will be plenty. You need to keep your fires small in a clay chiminea as they are not designed to house larger fires.

If you prefer a large fire, look at larger metal chimineas or, even better a firepit.

Can you leave a Clay chiminea unattended?

No, you should never leave a clay chiminea unattended. A good tip is to put it somewhere that is visible form your kitchen window (if possible). This way, you can keep an eye on it as you clean up when the night is winding down.

Should I Keep the Lid on a Clay Chiminea When the FIre is Lit?

No, always take off the lid when lighting your chiminea. The chiminea lid is designed as a way to keep unwanted debris and rain out of your chiminea when not in use.

You must remove the lid so that the chimney is open and the physics of convection and updrafts can work in harmony, making your clay chiminea excellent at housing a small fire.

Clay chiminea with lid on

Light that Clay Chiminea Fire!

And that’s it – you’re now officially a clay chiminea expert! With these easy safety tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy cosy fires all season long without any worries. Just remember to keep your fires small, let your chiminea heat up slowly, and never leave it unatended.

And don’t forget to have fun with your chiminea – you can paint it, decorate it, and make it your own. So go ahead and enjoy your clay chiminea – just be safe and responsible, and you’ll have many seasons of cosy fies ahead of you.


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