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Indoor Chimineas – All your Questions Answered

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Can I Use A Chiminea Indoors?

No. You cannot use a chiminea indoors burning wood or charcoal. The fumes could have devastating effects and it is VERY dangerous. However, you can use a chiminea indoors using bioethanol burners, gel fuel or candles.

The smoke and gases released by a chiminea burning wood or charcoal indoors would be devastating and should not be attempted. In addition to the smoke that’s released, there’s also carbon monoxide which is invisible and extremely deadly.

If you decide to use candles or gel fuel, remember that a lit flame is still a lit flame and should never be left unattended or taken for granted as being ‘safe’.

Furthermore, even though the flame is much smaller, you must expect your chiminea to heat up. Be careful with small children and pets who may not be aware of the hot surface of the chiminea.

Can a Clay Chiminea be Used Indoors?

No, a clay chiminea cannot be used indoors to burn wood. However, you can use bioethanol burners or candles in your clay chim but remember that clay can be delicate, so choose a spot in your room and plant it there. The less you try and move it, the lower the risk of you cracking it.

Can I use gel fuel in a chiminea Indoors?

Yes! In fact, gel fuel is an excellent choice for an indoor chiminea or even a chiminea on a covered patio outdoors. An area that perhaps does not have sufficient ventilation for a wood or charcoal fire.

Gel fuel is an alcohol-based gel it doesn’t put out byproducts like wood, paper, and other materials do when they burn.

Gel fuels are clean burning leaving behind no soot or ashes and putting off absolutely no smoke gel fuel is also environmentally friendly as it burns with such little put out that you don’t have to have a venting system and air quality within the room remains safe.

The only thing left behind after burning gel fuels is the can which can be recycled. If you love the ambience of dancing flame but hate the work of a real wood fire, then gel fuel would be a great option for you.

Gel fuel is easy to use – they don’t flare up when lighting and the flame height grows slowly the longer the fire burns. It’s also easy to extinguish by simply snuffing out the flame with the lid of the can.

You can also put out the can of gel fuel and continue to relight them until the can is empty gel fuel does produce heat there will be variances between brands, but gel fuel can produce between 1700 to 2500 BTUs per hour and has a burn time of 2 to 3 hours.

gel fuel can

It also is a great emergency backup because when power is out, you can use gel fuel to produce heat as well as light gel fuel produces a realistic wood-like flame and popping sound.

Gel fuel can be used both indoors and outdoors, and there are no flying embers to worry about. Gel fuels do contain organic additives that create a popping sound of a real wood fire but don’t worry they’re not going to pop or snap so hard that you need to be concerned with splattering gel fuel.

Is Gel Fuel Safe?

Yes, gel fuel is safe when used according to the directions. It’s important that you’re reading and following all of the directions on the can. Prior to using the product, you should always remove the label from the can and follow the same safety procedures as you would with any other fire.

You should also only burn gel fuel in its original can and never try to add anything to it or remove it and burn it in another container.

Does Gel Fuel Produce Any Odors?

Yes, some of the gel fuels do seem to have an odour sometimes, and according to the manufacturers, those odours are not harmful.

Once in a while, the odour can be unpleasant to sensitive noses, and there are some things that you can do to minimize the odour. Always make sure that you’re removing the label from the can before burning it. Remember to shake the can well.

How Many Cans Can I Burn Indoors At One Time?

In general, depending on the size of the cans, manufacturers say that you can burn up to three cans at one time indoors. However, you should always read the instructions carefully and use your common sense, lighting just one at a time and waiting to see how large the flame gets.

Let’s take a moment to compare gel fuel to both wood and gas fires. In comparison to a wood fire, gel fuel will burn with a comparable flame and a realistic popping and crackling sound. Gel fuel will also leave less cleanup behind because it doesn’t produce build-up like soot or ashes.

Gel fuel also requires less manual labour. The only lifting will be done when you bring your box in from delivery.

Another major plus over wood is there’s no venting required, so you don’t have to buy and install a pricey venting system like you would have to with a wood stove. Gel fires give you the flexibility to be able to start and stop a gel fire on demand.

When you compare gel fuel to gas-fuelled chimineas, you’ll notice you don’t need to have a gas line providing a constant fuel source.

Gas Chiminea Indoors?

Gas-fueled chimineas are few and far between in the UK, but these are usually designed for outdoor use only. We would recommend that a propane fuelled chiminea should have ventilation means.

How to use biofuel in an indoor chiminea

bio oil fuel for chimineas
  • Make sure your burner is cold before attempting to top up fuel – if your burner is hot, your fuel could spontaneously ignite. NEVER fill a burner while the flame is lit. The minimum wait time to cool down is at least 10-15 mins.
  • Use a funnel. It’s ok if you spill a little; just make sure to wipe it up before lighting.
  • Use a long lighter or match to light your burner. There will likely be ethanol vapour around your burner, so use a long light and step back. Don’t let kids do this.
  • When using any type of flame in your home, it’s always a good idea to ventilate the room every so often. Opening a window is fine.

How Much Free Space Do You Need Around an Indoor Chiminea?

candles in indoor chiminea
pic from Janet DeFilio Adams on Pinterest

Indoor chimineas using candles, gel cans or biofuel should all have a minimum safe distance of about a meter around them. Not only are you still dealing with flame and heat from the source, but your chiminea will get hot.

Of course not as hot as it would when burning wood or charcoal, but it will get hot.

Should I Put Sand in My Indoor Chiminea?

Yes, of course, you can use sand or lava rocks in your indoor chiminea. They make the perfect support for your flame so you can arrange them as you like. You can also make them look terrific with added extras – use your imagination! Just remember the material should not be flammable in the fire bowl.

Top Safety TIP – never throw paper or other debris on your indoor chiminea. You don’t know what chemicals will be released into the air, and you want to be really careful here.

Final Thoughts

Chimineas can be used indoors, just not while burning wood or charcoal. Rare exceptions will be chimineas that have been professionally installed like any other wood stove in a house and will be built directly into a chimney.

Using candles, biofuel, or gel fuel are lovely ways to use a chiminea safely indoors. I’ve even read about some people who use this method as a backup heater for their family in emergency situations – check out this article over on Dengarden that describes everything used to put an indoor chiminea together to use as an emergency heater indoors.

If you have more questions about chimineas in general, you might like this article – What is a Chiminea?

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