Cast iron chimineas main weakness is rust and once this starts to spread it’s a good idea to deal with it as soon as possible.
By doing so, you’ll extend its life by many years and also give it a new lease of life, protection from the elements and a stunning facelift that’ll make you wonder why you didn’t tackle it sooner.
To restore a cast iron chiminea you will have to remove the rust with a wire brush, sand the chiminea and then apply heat resistant paint to the outside. To extend the life of your chiminea painting once a season is recommended (though not always necessary depending on the climate of where you live).
Can you Use a Rusty Chiminea?
Yes, of course, you can use a rusty chiminea. Rust is a reaction from moisture and air that all cast iron items will endure at some point. It’s also part of their charm so don’t get too worried when you first see rust on your chiminea.
Just be careful not to neglect it for too long as that’s when problems can arise from the compromise of the structural integrity of your chiminea. Never use a chiminea that has large cracks as it can be dangerous.
How to Clean a Metal Chiminea
First step is to give your cast iron chiminea a really good clean. Remove all the debris from the fire bowl – to do this I just use some fire tongs and a dustpan and brush. Then I use the brush to brush around the inside of the entire fire bowl to coax out any remaining soot and dust.
It’s a good idea to do this after every time you use your chiminea after it’s cooled down. Your future self will thank you when going to light it next time. Also if you don’t clean out your chiminea and it’s really windy, ash cloud incoming?
Prevent Cast Iron Chiminea Rust
Prevention is always better than cure. Cast iron chimineas are usually pretty heavy so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to move them into the shed for the winter.
Keeping it covered whenever it’s not in use will really help slow the progression of any rust. After you use your chiminea, obviously let it cool down and then place the lid on and place your cover over the top.
What You Will Need
How to Get Rust Off a Cast Iron Chiminea
Now that your rusty cast iron chiminea is clean, we need to remove as much of the rust as possible before painting. The reasons for this are 2 fold – new paint is not a huge fan of sticking to rust. The more you remove the better your paint will go on.
Also, it’s a texture thing – rust is bumpy and flaky and we want to get your chim as smooth as possible before applying a new coat of paint.
TIME HACK – Remove the smaller parts of your chiminea eg the lid, the grate, spark arrestor etc and place them in a sink with either vinegar or cola. Half an hour should do it. This will remove most of the rust and save your elbow grease for the larger body of the chiminea.
To remove the rust, use a wire brush and some elbow grease. If you have an electric drill, you can buy a wire brush attachment which you can get for less than a tenner on Amazon.
Don’t forget to protect your eyes, hands and lungs when working on projects like this. Masks are easy as we all have them in abundance now but consider safety goggles or at the very least some wrap-around sunglasses.
Time for Sanding
Next you want to sand all over with sandpaper or something like an orbit sander that would make this step easier. Sanding helps improve the texture you are about to paint over and also primes the surface for painting.
TIP – Make sure to do all of this outside. Use a dust sheet or something similar to protect the ground you are working on and make it much easier to clean up. This will also mean you can spray paint without worry.
Keep in mind you are looking to simply smooth the surface and not weaken the structure of your chiminea by sanding into it too far.
Clean Your Chiminea (Again)
Use a simple dust brush and give the whole thing a once-over. At this point, we’re removing any dust left over from the wire brushing and the sanding as we don’t want to paint over that nonsense.
TIP – Avoid ever using water to clean your chiminea. In the UK when things get wet, they tend to stay wet for a while. Water and chimineas don’t mix – the ONLY time you should put water anywhere near your chiminea is if you have to put out a fire in an emergency.
Take care of any small Cracks
If once you’ve given it a good clean you can see some areas that could do with patching up, you can use a high-temperature silicate to patch things up. It’s the stuff designed to repair car exhausts when they are rusted and damaged so it’s perfect for patching gup a cast iron chiminea.
Simply follow the instructions on the packet to fill or patch any weak points. This product also comes with wire mesh that you can use to strengthen the repair area if needed….and it’s cheap as chips.
Cast Iron Chiminea Paint
There are some options available when it comes to choosing paint for your chiminea. however, the one I’d recommend is Rust-oleum. It goes on really well, dries quickly and by using spray paint you’ll be able to get into all those nook and crannies without spending painstaking time dabbing so as not to miss anything. And that’s not to mention the brush clean up after.
I’ve got a full article on how to paint your chiminea that covers this part in more detail.
Always use spray paint outdoors and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Remember to protect the surface you are working on and to protect yourself.
How to Paint a Cast Iron Chiminea
Now that you have your rusty chiminea prepped it’s time to do the most satisfying part – paint! Make sure to choose a day that’s not windy or raining and you’re good to go.
- Lay down a dust sheet under your chiminea – doesn’t matter what it is, just something that you don’t mind getting paint on.
- Wear protection – gloves, goggles and a mask are recommended.
- Apply the first coat and wait until dry – If you use Rust-Oleum it dries within minutes but of course follow the instructions on whatever paint you use.
- Apply 2nd coat and wait to dry – make sure to check it out from all angles to make sure you don’t miss a spot.
- Light a small fire and let burn down – this will just seal everything nicely ready to take on the British weather all year round!
TIP – Don’t paint the inside of your chiminea. It’s not necessary and is likely to cause a mess and possibly give off some horrid fumes on the next few burns… not to mention produce some really dodgy tasting bbq hotdogs.
Enjoy Your Magnificent Newly Painted Chiminea
By taking just a few hours to restore your rusty cast iron chiminea there is a lot of satisfaction to be had just in its appearance!
It goes without saying that a fresh coat of paint can go a long way and improving the weather resistance of your chim is sure to extend its life for many years to come.