clay or metal chiminea

Clay or Metal Chiminea? Which is the Best Chiminea for you?

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So you’ve decided to buy a chiminea! Congrats! You’ve come to the right place to help you decide which material is best for you and your family – a clay or metal chiminea? We know you are probably in a rush so we made a really easy table to help you decide:

CLAY OR METAL CHIMINEA PROS CONS TABLE - clay pros: traditional, cheaper, lighter, rustic aesthetic. Metal chimineas pros: lasts longer, better for cooking, less maintenance, can use charcoal. Clay chimineas cons: susceptible to breakage, can only burn wood, more maintenance, harder to cook. Metal chiminea cons: Heavier, harder to move, rust, more expensive, requires assembly.

We’ve got an in-depth article helping you decide between cast iron or clay chimineas but if you are still unsure about metal or clay as your best choice, read on.

What is the best material for a chiminea?


Choosing the best material will depend on what your particular needs are, your aesthetic preference, and also how you think you’ll best use your new chiminea.

In the UK the selection of chimineas available relies mostly on the supply chain and due to their recent popularity, it can be tricky to land the chiminea of your choice. 

Check out our page of chiminea suppliers to get access to a wide range of online stores that have chimineas available to buy now.

Clay Chiminea Pros:

  • Traditional look and feel. If you are after an authentic, rustic design for your outdoor space then the clay chiminea is definitely the way to go.
  • Clay chimineas are usually cheaper than metal chimineas. There are exceptions of course like Gardeco’s range of large clay chims that are made of heatproof clay.
  • Clay chimineas are usually lighter than their metal counterparts.
  • Rustic aesthetic – the clay chiminea offers a look that you just don’t get with metal. If you love a bit of terracotta then the clay chim will be for you.

Clay Chiminea Cons:

  • Clay chimineas are much more susceptible to damage and breakages. Not only can you not use them if they are even slightly damp without the risk of cracking, but they really don’t like a quick change in temperature. They also are designed purely to have small fires – the minute you have flames coming out the top, you’re fire is too big and you risk damaging your clay chiminea because it could get above a temperature that the structure can cope with.
  • This carries on nicely to the next point – clay chimineas can only burn wood. If you try to burn charcoal in a clay chiminea it will simply get too hot and crack the clay.
  • More difficult to cook with – because clay chimineas can only use wood when wood burns there’s usually a flame and a hot flame can be tricky to cook on. Unless of course you wrap things up and throw them inside to bake.
  • The last con of clay chimineas is a biggie – they require a lot more maintenance. Realistically is you buy a cheap clay chiminea and do nothing to it, you’re looking at it only lasting one season or so. To extend the life of clay chimineas you need to do everything from curing it when you first get it to painting it a minimum of once a season if it is to last. Then there’s also being very conservative with the size of your fires.

TIP – Clay chimeneas like SMALL fires. They are designed to burn small fires efficiently. If your fire gets too big, the rise in temperature could result in damage to your chiminea.


  • One great plus of choosing a metal chiminea over a clay one is that they generally last much longer. If you cover your metal chiminea and give it the occasional coat of paint it’ll give you years of wonderful outdoor fires.
  • Metal chimineas are better for cooking. You can get them burning a lot hotter and can also use charcoal which is much easier to cook with. Also you can even opt for a metal chiminea design that has cooking grill included, often built into the design itself.
  • Metal chimineas have less maintenance to take care of. From not having to cure them, layer them with sand or make sure to store them inside every winter, metal chims are just less hassle all round.
  • The option to use charcoal is a huge benefit of the metal chimineas. Charcoal is an efficient fuel and will burn and release heat, getting much hotter than wood. This allows for metal chims to get hotter and release more heat than clay varieties. Not only because they can get hotter but also because metal is a much better conductor than clay and emanates more heat.

Metal Chimineas cons:

  • Metal chimineas are generally heavier than clay. There are some light metal chimineas available but unless they are steel, they are likely to be pretty heavy.
  • Metal chimineas are susceptible to rust – there are exceptions but these varieties are rarely available in the UK. Using a cover can help keep rust at bay – in addition to using your chiminea regularly should help keep it nice and dry.
  • Although there are some cheap steel chimineas available these are often not terrific quality. For a decent quality cast iron chiminea you are probably looking at starting point of £150. So in general they are more pricey than clay chimineas.
  • Metal chimineas usually require assembly. For many of us this probably isn’t an issue, but consider that you may have to put it together yourself especially if you purchase online and have it delivered. It will likely arrive as close to flat pack as possible.

In Summary

Whether you choose a clay or metal chiminea they are both delightful additions to your garden. By checking through the above lists you’ll have a better idea of what type will suit you and your family.

It’s the PERFECT time to buy a chiminea – ahead of the spring rush in 2022. If you need any more help, don’t hesitate to get in touch:

Thanks for reading! I hope you found the information useful.

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