clay chimineas ultimate guide2

Clay Chimineas – Ultimate Guide

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Research before Buying For Clay Chimineas

Clay chimineas can be purchased online or in a physical store like a garden centre or even B&Q.

  • When buying from a physical store, make sure you’ll have enough room in your vehicle to get it home and also think about bringing some padding when it’s transported in the car. This will help keep it in one piece while getting it home.
  • When buying a chiminea online, check the warranty of products and their policies on breakages. Some smaller online companies may have issues ensuring this type of delivery, and so you’ll need to know what happens if it arrives broken.

Buying a Clay Chiminea Tips

my clay chiminea
My clay chiminea

As far as assembly goes, there’s never a problem because clay chimineas usually come in just 2 pieces:

  • the chiminea itself (made from clay or terracotta etc.)
  • the chiminea stand is usually made out of metal

How to assemble a Clay Chiminea?

assembling a clay chiminea the 4 stages illustrated

Carefully remove the chiminea and stand from all packaging. Place the stand in the desired final position of your chiminea. Carefully place the chiminea on top of its stand.

Where to Place Your Clay Chiminea?

Clay chiminea fireplaces are a great way to bring warmth and light to any patio or garden. They can also be used in conjunction with other outdoor living accessories such as barbecues, sun loungers and furniture.

The best place to put your clay chiminea will depend on a few factors:

  • Where to make a focal point in your garden
  • Where do people gather in your garden?
  • Can seating be placed around your chiminea?
  • Make sure not to place under any form of cover
  • Make sure not to place too close to buildings or fences
  • Where would it not bother neighbours
  • Where is a strong, flat surface that is heat resistant

How to Move a Clay Chiminea?

If you have to move a clay chiminea, take note of its weight. It may be easier to move on a cart if you have a really heavy model.

To move, ensure the following:

  • Lift the clay chiminea from only the base
  • You may need 2 people to lift
  • Know where you are moving it to
  • Make sure not to face directly into the wind
  • Protect buildings and other structures from heat and potential stray embers by ensuring sufficient distance from them

How to Cure (Season) a Clay Chiminea?

a small fire in my clay chiminea to cure it
Curing my clay chiminea

The curing process is simple but can be somewhat time-consuming. It’s vital that you cure a clay chiminea properly before its first proper use, as cracks are likely otherwise.

To season a clay chiminea, simply light 2-3 small fires using only kindling, let them burn out, and your chiminea cool down entirely before the next small fire.

Do I Need Sand For A Clay Chiminea?

Yes. Unless stated otherwise in the manufactures instructions in your clay chiminea, you should always put some sand in the fire bowl.

The clay chiminea needs this buffer at the bottom of the fire bowl to protect it from high heat levels. You can also use lava stone, pea gravel, or similar material. Lava stones work particularly well as they allow for a lot of airflow. This really enhances how well your fire burns.

We have a full article on clay chiminea sand for your perusal.

What’s the easiest way to light your clay chiminea?

You light your clay chiminea after you’ve taken the time to season it and to line the base of the fire bowl with sand.

Light a chiminea fire the same way you would any other fire.

  • Some form of kindling on the bottom
  • Build a tinder ‘teepee’
  • Using a long-nosed lighter or long match, light the tinder
  • Wait a few minutes as the kindling catches
  • Place on a small log
  • Add logs carefully so as not to grow the fire too large

TIP – You’re fire is too large if you can see flames coming out the top!

How do you safely extinguish a fire in a clay chiminea?

The safest way to extinguish a clay chiminea is to let the fire burn out naturally. For more alternatives, check this – How to Put Out a Chiminea Fire.

How to Care For a Clay Chiminea?

Make sure to leave your chiminea to cool down completely, then replace the lid. This prevents unwanted debris or moisture to get in the top.

Then place your chiminea cover over to protect it from the rain.

TIP – Consider weighing down your chiminea by placing a few bricks in the fire bowl. With a chiminea cover on, it can act as a giant parachute and topple over your chiminea. If it is particularly windy,

Repair a Clay Chiminea

repair clay chiminea

To repair a clay chiminea, you’ll first have to assess what kind and extent of damage that you’re dealing with. The damage will be:

  • a small crack that can be quickly filled
  • a larger crack that may take more time to fill
  • a larger crack in a delicate area that is not worth fixing (e.g. on the base of the fire bowl)
  • too drastic to fix – chiminea split in two

Whether you attempt to fix your clay chiminea will be down to how extensive the crack is. Small, hairline cracks are worth the time and expense to fix but remember that even the most minor crack in a clay chiminea means the structure has been compromised.

To repair a clay chiminea, you can follow the following steps:

  1. Clean with a soft brush
  2. Sand the area to make each surface better for adhesive
  3. Follow instructions on adhesive
  4. Leave to dry several days before lighting a fire

What is Chiminea Repair Cement?

To repair a cracked chiminea, you can use

  • fire cement or
  • car body filler
clay chiminea fire cement
KOS Fire Cement

Cement that is designed to repair fire brick is a good solution because it works well with clay and also can withstand the high heat of a chiminea.

how long does a clay chiminea last?

The life span of a clay chiminea can vary tremendously depending on how well you look after and protect it. Clay chimineas should last a minimum of 3-5 years.

Here’s a checklist of things you can do to extend the life of your clay chiminea.

  • Keep it covered when not in use with a chiminea cover.
  • Take it indoors over the winter months – garden shed should be fine
  • Ensure that you properly cure your new clay chiminea
  • Keep fires small
  • Don’t use fire accelerants in your chiminea
  • Be extremely careful when moving a clay chiminea
  • Never extinguish a clay chiminea fire with water

TIP – If you have flames coming out of the top of the chimney of your chimenea, then your fire is too big! Stop adding fuel and let it calm down. Clay chimineas will likely crack if you make fires too big.

Is it safe to use a clay chiminea indoors?

No, don’t use a clay chiminea indoors. Although perhaps used like this when they were first invented by the ancient people of South America, we know that the dangerous fumes burned by a fire without proper ventilation can be lethal.

clay chiminea x3

The only exception is to burn candles or ethanol lamps or similar inside your chiminea. You should under no circumstances light a regular fire in an indoor chiminea. I advise people to also be extremely cautious and never use a chiminea outdoors under a covered area. This is because the smoke and fumes from the fire can’t vent properly.

What is the best way to Clean the Inside of a Clay Chiminea?

The best way to clean the inside of a clay chiminea is to remove all the fire debris with a dustpan and brush. I find the cheap plastic ones work best.

Then use a soft brush (i use the one from a dustpan and brush set) to swoop around the inside, simply knocking loose any debris build-up. Sweep out the bottom again, and you’re done. You should not attempt to get the inside of a chiminea super clean as it’s designed to have a soot layer on the inside over time.

TIP – Never use water to clean your clay chiminea. Even though you may attempt to dry it afterward, some of the moisture will be absorbed as clay is porous.

What’s the best way to clean the outside of a clay chiminea?

Again don’t use water. Give it a brush down with a soft-bristled brush.

Sealing a Clay Chiminea

To extend its life beyond a few years, clay chimineas benefit tremendously from getting painted with a coat of sealant once a season.

Only the outside of the chiminea needs to be sealed. once you have bought the sealant and brush, it’s really easy to do quickly at the end of each season before you put it away in the shed for the winter.

For full instructions on sealing a clay chiminea, we got you covered.

Painting a Clay Chiminea

Some of the most beautiful clay chimineas are painted. You can paint your clay chiminea

What Wood Can I Burn on A Clay Chiminea to Keep Away Mosquitos?

Pinion wood is perfect for burning in your chiminea and the wonderful aroma is perfect for a summer evening and will keep mosquitos and other flying bugs away from your fire area. Nothing will spoil an outdoor evening faster than some munching beasties.

Burn pinion wood for repelling mosquitos

Are Clay Chimineas Safe For Kids?

Yes, as long as you take common-sense precautions and remember that although a clay chiminea will not get as hot as a metal constructed variety, they still house fire and will get too hot to touch.

Children and pets should be protected from fire if they are too young to understand that fire is too hot to go near. You can use fire guards or pet gates etc, and still have a chiminea safely when you have kids and or pets.

Can I cook on a Clay Chiminea?

Yes, you can cook on a clay chiminea. Generally, the mouths of clay chimineas are a bit smaller so you may if cooking is important, you can:

  • Get a large clay chiminea
  • Check the size of the mouth, particularly against any cooking equipment you plan to use eg a pizza stone.
  • Get a chimney stack grill so you can cook on top of your chim

Are There Clay Chimineas That Can Use Charcoal?

Yes the chimalin AFC chiminea from Gardeco is made of reinforced robust formula clay that they developed especially for these chimineas to withstand much higher heat. They do not need to be cured and can accommodate wood, coal AND charcoal as fuel.

Clay chiminea that won’t crack

Final Thoughts

Clay chimineas are popular because their traditional aesthetic combined with rustic charm makes them irresistible to so many of us who fall in love with chimineas.

Taking care to season them before first proper burn is a must. In discussing the number one problem that chiminea online retailers have with selling clay chimineas, it’s becuase customers do not cure them properly and they crack on first use.

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