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Are you looking to spend more time outdoors in your garden this year? A Chiminea is a great addition to any backyard, helping to provide a unique feature piece to any patio or decking. These southwestern-styled terracotta fireplaces not only offer fantastic aesthetics, but they also have a practical function.

What is a chiminea, though, and how do you use them?

The history of chimineas

In a traditional sense, a chiminea should be made from clay and features a wide bottom and a narrow vertical chimney that creates a vase shape. One side of the bottom will have a wide mouth, allowing users to create a fire, no matter if it is raining.

The design of a chiminea is very similar to a potbelly stove, or a Kotao as it is known in Eastern Europe. These stoves are fed with wood and can be used to provide heat as well as cook food, with the opening being wide enough to place cooking pans above the coal.

A chiminea is less frequently used for cooking, though.

Instead, they are used as an open fire pit and fed with more aromatic woods such as pinon, hickory, cedar, and mesquite. These help to create a very high temperature and pleasant smell, providing warmth to those sitting around them.

Their origins date back to around 17th century Mexico, and they have been used as a method of heating or light cooking ever since.

What to look for before you buy a chiminea?

There are a huge array of chimineas available on the market, which means it can be very tough to know the best option for your garden. With such a variety available, it also means that the quality can differ significantly.

So how do you find the perfect chiminea for your garden?

Overall shape and design

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a chiminea is the overall shape and design. This is not only about the size and style of how it has been crafted but also how it will perform functionally. That is why you want to check to see if it is crooked or misshapen in some way, or whether the chimney is either too thick or thin.


Another major consideration is the materials being used. Clay and terracotta are two of the most common and traditional materials being used. However, in recent years manufacturers have been exploring an array of different materials, and homeowners can now benefit from more durable options such as cast iron, steel, aluminum, and copper.


Chimineas come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, which is why another major consideration is the size. You want to ensure that yours is big enough to provide the heat required to warm your guests.

Another top tip is to get one that is big enough to fit standard wood cuttings; otherwise, you will either have to chop these up further or order smaller special chips.


Finally, another factor is the location of your property. Some areas ban the burning of wood inside and outside, which means that you will not be able to use your chiminea.

Thankfully, for homeowners living in these regions, there are options that can be fuelled by gas or propane.

Where should you put your chiminea?

Once you have found the perfect chiminea for your home, the next question that many homeowners will have, is where to place theirs. It is always advisable to put it somewhere that will allow you to see the flames from inside your home.

This is to ensure safety, allowing you to extinguish the fire should they become too big or reignite after using.

To keep the fire burning and temperatures high, you will also want to place your chiminea away from the wind as best as possible. This will not only prevent the fire from going out, but it will also carry the smoke away from your guests and property.

To maximize efficiency, the chiminea will need to be perfectly level, so you should consider the surface that you are placing it on.

The most common options are concrete, brick, and stone; however it is also possible to put it on wooden decking, but before doing so, you will need to add a hearth underneath to prevent scorching and burning.

Wherever you decide to place it, make sure that you have a nearby source of water or sand to ensure you can quickly extinguish the fire should it burn too hot.

How can you care for your chiminea?

To keep your chiminea in the very best condition, it will require regular maintenance and care. These products are very heavy, and the clay can be prone to cracking due to the high temperatures involved.

That is why if you have a clay chiminea, you should apply an acrylic sealer before using it for the first time and then reapply a coat every six to eight weeks.

This sealer will help prevent moisture from weakening the clay and causing it to crack. However, for added protection, you should also move your chiminea inside when not in use or during rainy weather.

You should place a mixture of sand, pea gravel, and lava rock in the bottom of your chiminea as this will help to ensure that it is easier to clean out the ashes by allowing you to scrap them out with a shovel.

Are you worried about burning wood?

As mentioned, certain regions do not allow homeowners to burn wood either inside or outside. This means that chimineas might not always be the best option for your backyard. However, many individuals are also worried about the impact that burning wood will have on the quality of air around them.

The Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (HPBA) has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a unique volunteer program with an array of incentives to change out woodstoves.

Find out more and discover your local program today.

Pronunciation and Spelling

Now you know what they are, where to place them in your garden, and how to care for them; the only question left is to answer how you actually pronounce the word chiminea.

You might notice that it can be spelled either chiminea or chimenea; however, they are both pronounced Che-Meh-Nee-Yah, which is Spanish for chimney.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking to create a unique new focal point in your backyard, then a chiminea is a fantastic addition to any garden. You should take your time to find the perfect product that meets your style and budget, but if you are not sure what the right solution for your home is, get in touch with our team today, who will be happy to help.