Originally from Mexico and dating back centuries, chimineas are traditionally used for cooking and heating. Today, there are a wide range of styles and sizes available, making them a versatile as well as useful feature for your outdoor space.
Although they are compact, they output a generous amount of heat, keeping you warm outdoors on cooler evenings as well as creating a wonderful atmosphere.
In our buying guide, we’ll review the best cast iron chimineas of 2021, as well as give you tips on how to choose and use this useful outdoor fireplace.
Best Chiminea Fire Pit for 2021
What is a Chiminea?
Chimineas are small freestanding fireplaces that can be used to provide heat or cook food. Traditionally, they are a single unit made up of a rounded base that sits on a sturdy stand, with the top tapering to a distinctive chimney.
They can be made of clay, cast iron, copper or stainless steel, and can look traditional, be painted, or glazed, or very modern and sleek.
Although they are often thought of as decorative, they’re highly practical and effective, adding character and function to your outdoor space.
What to Consider When Buying a Cast Iron Chiminea
- Material – Good quality cast iron is key, as you want your chimenea to last and withstand the elements.
- Location – You will need to be able to place it on a firm, level surface, away from foot traffic. It shouldn’t wobble or be in danger of falling off an edge.
Keep it away from flammable materials (including trees and shrubs) and flammable surfaces (including wooden decking).
- Size – Chimineas provide a lot of heat for their comparatively small size, and it’s important to remember that this heat radiates out to cover a wide area, so you may not need a large cast iron chiminea to keep everyone warm!
- Style – There’s a style for every backyard, so take the time to find the perfect one for yours. In addition to very traditional styles, there are chimeneas that have antique finishes, are sleek and modern, or are themed.
What is the Difference Between a Chiminea and a Fire Pit?
These are two very similar and equally popular outdoor heating items, but while a fire pit is open to the sky, a chiminea is closed with a tall flue and a slot for adding wood and charcoal.
The flue helps keep smoke and soot away, while a fire pit has no way of channeling this. A chiminea is also usually more compact and less suited to cooking, while fire pits often have large cooking surfaces and grills. They both provide plenty of heat!
What Fuel Can I Burn in a Cast Iron Chiminea?
The best fuel for a chiminea is wood, and we recommend a hard, slow-burning variety like apple, red cedar, eco-logs, birch, Douglas fir, or maple. This means you’ll get the most heat without having to continually feed the fire.
Charcoal doesn’t produce as much heat, and pressure-treated lumber should be avoided because of the chemicals in the wood, as these can be dangerous to inhale.
Here is our guide on How to Cut Firewood.
How to Maintain a Cast Iron Chiminea
Making your investment last is all about maintaining your cast iron chiminea! Here’s how.
- Rust protection – No matter where you live, rust is inevitable if you have a cast iron chimenea. Most good quality models will have anti-rust protection, but it’s worth taking additional measures, especially if you live near the coast.
This can include an annual clean with a pressure washer, followed by a coat of protective finish. The coating should be cured according to the manufacturer’s instructions to properly protect the chiminea.
- Cover – It’s also a good idea to invest in a durable chiminea cover. This will provide protection from the weather and help reduce rust build-up and dust.
If your chiminea is in a sunny spot, make sure the cover is UV-resistant, or it will deteriorate quickly.
- Clean – Remove old ashes and debris regularly once the chiminea is cool, keeping in mind that coals and ash can stay very hot even a few days after the fire seems to have gone out.
Cool wood ash can be used on your yard or in your home compost.
How to Use a Chiminea
Making a good fire in a chiminea takes a little bit of technique – here’s what to do.
- Start small – Never start a large fire in a chiminea, as they are meant to burn small amounts of wood. Instead, start with a very small fire and slowly build it up.
This will allow the chiminea to heat up properly and safely.
- Don’t use an accelerant – Patience is everything! An accelerant will add too much explosive heat at once and can cause a safety issue as well as potentially damaging your chiminea.
This is especially important in colder weather, as you need the cast iron to heat up slowly and fully.
- Let the fire die out – Never use water on a chiminea, as the sudden drop in temperature can cause cracks and damage. Instead, let the fire burn out gently by itself, making sure no coals can fall out or be blown out.
- Never leave it unattended – Your chiminea should always be watched while it has a fire or hot coals in it. This is especially important if you have small children, pets, or live in a fire restricted area.
Best Cast Iron Chiminea Reviews
Cast Iron Chiminea Top Picks
Best Cast Iron Chiminea
The Sunnydaze Black Steel Wood-Burning Outdoor Chiminea Fire Pit is our pick as the best cast iron chiminea for 2021! With a classic Mexican feel and high-quality steel construction, this chiminea is traditional yet modern, fitting into any home with ease.
It is a great size for most outdoor spaces, and the tall flue keeps smoke and soot away so you can enjoy the warmth!
Best Value Cast Iron Chiminea
If you have a small patio and want a compact and affordable fireplace, the Deckmate Corona 3 Ft. High Outdoor Steel Chimenea Fireplace is perfect.
It looks great, is well-made, won’t break your budget, and delivers plenty of heat for cozy get-togethers on cool evenings.
Premium Choice Cast Iron Chiminea
If you are looking for an exceptional chiminea, we recommend the Sunnydaze Black Steel Outdoor Wood-Burning Modern Backyard Chiminea.
It’s bold and striking, whether it’s in use or not, and it supplies plenty of heat for most outdoor spaces. It combines the best features of a fire pit and chimney to provide a great feature to relax around during cooler weather.
Get Cozy Around the Best Cast Iron Chimineas in Town!
You and your family can enjoy the best of the fall and winter weather with a beautiful and functional chiminea. Cast iron chimineas are sturdy, heavy and heat up your space well.
Although they need a little extra care and can rust, the additional maintenance is more than made up by their elegance and effectiveness! We hope our article helped you find the best cast iron chiminea for your home.