Fun fire… campfires, bonfires, and that long gone but lovingly remembered autumn ritual of leaf burning by the curbside… can still be yours through the noble chiminea, the popular outdoor potbelly fireplace.
Chimineas are not care-free devices. They need a certain amount of ongoing maintenance to guarantee the longest life. Hopefully, you will read this before you buy one so that you can make an informed purchase.
What is a chiminea?
Originating in Mexico in the 17th century, the original chimineas were used to bake bread. As with the originals, modern chimineas are handmade from raw, wet clay, giving each chiminea its own personality. They are actually made from two pieces… the chimney or “stack” made separately from the wood chamber or “base”. After a short period of air drying, they are joined together to make a seemingly seamless fireplace!
The formed chiminea is allowed to air dry for a few more days and then is baked in a 900+ degree kiln. Allowing enough drying time as important since chimineas placed into the kiln while too wet will invariably crack. After thorough cooling, the outside is painted to give a rustic-looking, almost antique appearance. (Personally, I like the some of the new styles that are made of cast iron because they are resistant to chips, cracks and fading.)
What can be burned in a chiminea?
The chiminea is primarily a wood-burning stove. Hard woods burn best and produce the least amount of sparks. Some chiminea users who cook in their chimineas burn charcoal. One safe way is to first burn some hard wood to form wood coals, which in turn are hot enough to light the charcoal. You could also use self-lighting charcoal.