Chiminea Guide and Resources
What is a chiminea?
A chiminea is an oven for use outdoors, that is fuelled using dried out wood or specialist chiminea fuel (eg wood burning briquettes). They are typically used as an alternative to a barbecue on an outdoor patio. They also fall under the general category of patio heater.
Traditionally, chimineas were made from clay. However, chimineas made from clay alone tend to be lacking in strength and durability. Most chimineas these days are either made from cast iron or from reinforced clay - this is clay that is reinforced with an inbuilt wire mesh. Reinforced clay chimineas are also called "Bushman Burners".
Those made from cast iron will rust. Rusting will not affect their performance, but if you find the rust offensive you can remove the rust with a wire brush and repaint them using purpose designed high temperature paint, eg StoveBright.
From where did chimineas originate?
Chimineas originated over one thousand of years ago in Mexico, where they were used by the Mayan Indians as ovens for heating and cooking.
The Mayans were a nomadic tribe that inhabited the mountains in Mexico. They shaped clay into simple chiminea shapes and then fired them in wood fuelled kilns. The people who lived in the towns in Mexico copied the Mayans and made their own chimineas - they are still doing this today. The word "chiminea" comes from the Spanish word for chimney.
Why would I want a chiminea?
Chimineas have two uses. The first is as an oven to cook food outdoors. The second, and to me the more important use, is as an outdoor heater. It will really help you to make the most of late August, September evenings, April, May and June evenings outdoors.
My family has a cast iron chiminea that we fuel with garden rubbish (leaves, logs etc) that we light up on chilly evening. We sit outside on the decking, sipping a glass of wine and staring at the stars, snug and warm as toast. It's so cosy I've even fallen asleep in front of it, and woken up at two o'clock in the morning with a stiff back from falling asleep on a plastic sun lounger.
Note that it should be sited on a base that will not burn, such as a concrete paving slab, and kept a safe distance from anything combustible - including plants, trees and sheds!