Our chiminea safety tips are designed to do one thing....improve safety. Whether you're thinking about buying a chiminea or you already own one, operating one in a safe manner is important.
Overall, building a fire in a chiminea is safer than starting a fire in a fire pit or having a bonfire.
Even though a campfire can be small and contained within a fire ring, a strong gust of wind can easily cause hot embers to fly into some adjacent dry grass and cause a grass fire.
Having a large bonfire only increases the odds of a grass fire, especially during the fire season when all of the dead grass and sticks have dried out in the early spring, but things haven't greened up yet making the woods a tinderbox.
One great advantage to using a chiminea is that it encloses a majority of the flame inside the bowl which helps reduce the possibility of an accidental mishap.
However, we need to realize that the flames and heat generated from burning wood can be dangerous no matter which type of fire you have.
Every year homes, forests and fields are destroyed by unintentional fires.
So what can you do to help increase safety and decrease the chance of an unintentional fire? Read these 10 tips (in no specific order) designed to help you safely enjoy your chiminea.
1. Safely Install Your Chiminea - Using a 3 or 4 legged stand, set up your chiminea on bricks, pavers or cement. Never place your chiminea on a deck or other flammable surface.
The bricks or pavers serve two purposes. They allow a stable and level base for the chiminea to rest on which reduces the possibility of it accidentally tipping over, and they decrease the possibility of an unwanted fire because it's not sitting on a flammable surface.
Think of a chiminea like you would a wood burning stove. All wood stoves must have a non-flammable barrier around them.
They typically set on a hearth constructed of bricks or cement which is surrounded by a non-flammable material. A chiminea should follow the same concept.
2. Safe Location - A chiminea should not be placed directly against your home, trees or other structure.
Whether it's a fire pit or a chiminea I like to use the 30 foot rule. Keeping a chiminea 30 feet from any trees, buildings or flammable material is recommended.
30 feet allows plenty of room to gather around your fire and enjoy it, while ensuring your home remains safe in the process.
3. Building A Fire In A Chiminea - Never use chemicals or combustable fluids to start a fire in your chiminea....or any other fire.
Instead, use kindling to create a small fire then slowly add larger wood to the flame. A chiminea is not designed to have large, roaring fires.
Instead, they're designed to have small to medium fires that warm up the chiminea and radiate the heat to those sitting around it.
Also, building a fire with dry seasoned firewood will create a nice flame for everyone to enjoy. Wet firewood simply won't burn as well and it smokes and smolders creating a cool fire.
4. Use A Spark Arrester - If your chiminea did not come with a spark arrester on the chimney, you can easily make one yourself.
Fold up a piece of chicken wire or other mesh wire and place it near the top of the chimney. The wire will help prevent hot embers from escaping.
A spark arrester works great and every chiminea should have one. Sparks that get carried out of the stack and land on nearby dry grass can easily start a grass fire. Since spark arresters are cheap and easy to make, every chiminea should have one.
5. The Outside Of The Chiminea Is Hot - The exterior of a chiminea can get very hot. Always make sure children are properly supervised and warn your guests of the dangers.
Cast iron chimineas can stay hot for hours after the fire has died down. While this is great for radiant heat, it can be deceiving because the chiminea may not look hot but it is!
6. Build Small Fires - Chimineas are designed for small fires. If you see flames coming out of the chimney or the mouth....it's too big.
7. Protect Your Investment - Depending on the style and construction of your chiminea, weather can be its worst enemy.
Rain and snow can rust or deteriorate a chiminea possibly causing it to crack or break. Cover your chiminea with a chiminea cover designed to fit it, or store it inside during the off season.
Generally clay and cast aluminum chimineas are light enough to move indoors or inside a barn during the winter if you don't plan on using them. Cast iron however can be really heavy so a good quality chiminea cover can help protect your investment.
8. Don't Leave A Chiminea Fire Unattended - Never leave a fire unattended no matter if it's inside a chiminea or inside a fire pit.
9. Have A Safety Plan - Although listed at number 9, this is one of the most important chiminea safety tips because having a safety plan is always important no matter what the situation is.
Have a hose, bucket of water, or shovel nearby to quickly put out an unwanted fire outside your chiminea.
Remember, never use water to extinguish a fire inside the chiminea. Doing so could cause severe damage.
If you need to put out a fire inside your chiminea, use sand. Sand works great because it quickly puts out the fire, but allows your chiminea to slowly cool, reducing the possibly of damage.
10. Look Up - Don't place your chiminea under an awning or other overhead structure.
Clear away any low hanging branches from nearby trees. The area above your chiminea should be clear.
Overall, using a chiminea as a backyard fireplace is very safe if you follow a few simple chiminea safety tips.
Like we mentioned before, they work great because they contain the fire inside the chiminea which is similar to a wood burning stove.
However, as with any outdoor flame there is always a risk of an unintentional fire, so have a safety plan in place just in case the unthinkable happens.