The 8 Best Chimineas
This wiki has been updated 25 times since it was first published in January of 2016. Nothing beats sitting around a cozy fireplace in the wintertime, and now you can take that ambiance into the outdoors with one of these chimineas. They provide an instant focal point on any deck or patio, and look great as accent pieces with or without a fire blazing inside. Some even offer you the ability to grill, and we've ranked them here by durability, heat radiation, and special features. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 12, 2021:
Availability issues ran rampant through these rankings since the last time we visited them, possibly due to companies shifting their focus to new designs, and as a result we ended up removing half of our previous picks for this category. The models we eliminated were the Blue Rooster Dragonfly, Deeco Aztec Allure, Deeco CP Wetern Basket Weave, Sunnydaze Outdoor Wood Burning and Sunnydaze Steel Outdoor.
I found the selections in this space to be surprisingly sparse, as I personally think that a nice chiminea can make a gorgeous and affordable addition to a lot of backyards – especially on smaller properties where an open fire pit is less practical – but that didn’t stop us from finding a few new options to add to our list.
To begin with, we were able to swap out our two lost options from Sunnydaze with two new models from the same outfit. While the Sunnydaze Black Steel KF-849 sports a dark, modern aesthetic that allows 360-degree flame viewing, the Sunnydaze Mexican Style RCM-LG799 has a rustic, rusted look that only exposes the blaze on one side, and will appeal to a different crowd. Both options are quite tall, standing 66 and 75 inches in height, respectively.
We also added the Kay Home Products Deckmate Sonora 30199 to the mix, and we think that – with a notably heavy 75-pound unit weight – its cast-iron construction will appeal to users looking for a substantial option to take up long-term residence on their premises.
Note that the finish on some of these options will inevitably start to go with time, so you may need to touch them up with a can of high-temperature paint every so often. And, for the sake of safe fire management, you might also want to think about investing in a pair of fireplace tongs.
January 30, 2020:
Despite is build quality and popularity, the Hacienda Oxidized Tacora had to be removed from our list due to availability issues. It's likely that it was in higher demand than the company could meet, and they seem to have pivoted to more basic, chimney-free fire pits for the main part of their business. That left us with a few open spots, two of which were filled by a company we haven't included before in the Sunnydaze Outdoor Wood Burning and the Sunnydaze Steel Outdoor, the former of which offers more bang for your buck than just about anything on the market, including a 360-degree view of the fire.
Keep in mind, however, that any 360-degree model — like our other new model, the Bali Outdoors Wood Burning — is going to radiate heat in all directions, whereas a model with only a single open side will direct more heat out that opening, which is better for smaller groups of people all seated on one side of the unit. 360 models are better for larger groups, or at least seating in the round.
The Bernard Company Based in Arizona, this company specializes in custom and creative metalworks, with a portfolio spanning from bird baths to barbecues and – you guessed it – chimineas. If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, they might be worth checking out. thebernardcompany.com
Cocoon Fireplaces The brainchild of designer Federico Otero, this company's contemporary fireplaces are suitable for indoor use, run on biofuel, and are open only to one side — much like many chiminea. They're an interesting alternative to consider if you're searching the market for a modern option. cocoonfireplaces.com
The Outdoor Fireplace: Choosing A Chiminea
And don't overlook the lovely outdoor fireplaces available that are made out of clay.
A chiminea is one of the best ways to bring warmth, light, and style to an outdoor area. Whether you use it to create a crackling wood fire that warms all who stand nearby, fill it with candles for a bit of light and a lot of charm, or simply enjoy it as an aesthetic enhancement to a porch, patio, or deck, you will find that chimineas are an elegant and easy way to dress up a space.
When choosing your chiminea, you have to balance two major factors before making your selection. These are the primary function of the chiminea and the physical space it will occupy. These two considerations cannot be weighed in isolation, for they directly impact one another. For example, if you actually plan to have regular wood fires in your chiminea, you must consider where the unit is going to sit with much more care and thought than if it will be primarily a decorative element.
A chiminea that has a full, 360-degree exposure to its fire tray is perfect for the patio with plenty of room, but might be an extreme fire hazard for a porch built near a house. If your chiminea will be sitting near a wall, furniture, or plants that might potentially combust, you should not expose those elements to direct flame or sparks. For a chiminea that will be perched among seating with plenty of open space around and above it, however, a bulb-shaped unit that has mesh all around it is ideal for equal warmth from and viewing of the fire.
Next. consider not the fire itself, but the smoke and sparks. Some chimineas have tall chimneys that will help to direct these fire byproducts up and away from those seated or standing nearby, making them a good choice for contained areas without full exposure to open breezes. Then again, other units can have much of their upper sections removed and can be enjoyed as fire pits, creating the intimate campfire type of experience many people crave.
Most modern chimineas are made of metal, and if you want a metal unit, you will need to choose whether you prefer the elegance of copper (which does require occasional heavy cleaning) or the rugged look of iron (which can usually just be repainted). And don't overlook the lovely outdoor fireplaces available that are made out of clay. A terra-cotta chiminea can be a handsome way to decorate an outdoor space, whether your home has a southwestern design motif, a "cabin in the woods" feel, or any other style. (With each type of chiminea material comes a different type of upkeep.)
Beyond The Fire: Other Ideas For Your Chiminea
Chimineas are, first and foremost, outdoor fireplaces that are designed to safely contain a crackling wood fire, so feel free to actually use them as such. But do keep in mind that once you start to burn fires in your chiminea, it will limit its use for other functions, secondary though most of them may be.
Chimineas are also resistant to damage from water and can help protect a plant from overexposure to sunlight.
When not used as fireplaces, most chimineas simply sit there in the garden, on the deck, or on the patio as decorative items. And that's not a bad use of these units, which are inarguably handsome. To dress a chiminea up further, consider using it as a planter. The rugged design of a good chiminea allows it to hold plenty of weight from soil, water, and plant material itself, and the mesh encircling many chimineas can help keep plants safe from animals who might nibble flowers, fruit, or leaves or from damage caused by windblown debris and other issues. Chimineas are also resistant to damage from water and can help protect a plant from overexposure to sunlight.
A chiminea can also be used as a unique way to serve beverages at a party or cookout. Fill the basin with ice and then load it up with cans or bottles of your favorite drinks and serve them chilled in a unique way your guests will love.
And finally, consider using a chiminea as a cooking tool. While a few chimineas actually have dedicated cooking features, such as rotisserie attachments, any chiminea can be used for roasting marshmallows, adding smoky flavor to cheeses or charcuterie, or even for grilling meats with a bit of ingenuity and adaptability.
A Few Words On Chiminea Safety And Maintenance
With the right care and maintenance, most good chimineas should last for many years. That's true whether you actually use them for active fires or if you simply keep them as outdoor decorations. However, the way in which you care for your chiminea will be quite different under those differing circumstances.
That's true whether you actually use them for active fires or if you simply keep them as outdoor decorations.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to ruin your terra-cotta chiminea is to put out a fire using water. If you have a fire actively burning in a clay chiminea -- or if a fire has recently died down but the unit is still hot with residual heat or with active coals -- then introducing water to the unit can lead to cracks that will damage the look of the piece, but can also cause it to break apart completely. Unless you need to extinguish a fire quickly for reasons of safety, never put out a fire in a terra-cotta chiminea using water. Let the fire die down naturally, or extinguish it with sand.
When it comes to caring for a copper chiminea, just be ready so spend some time scrubbing now and then. A scouring pad and water is often all that's needed to cut through the grit and grime left by soot, dirt, and other dirty substances, but occasionally you will need a better way to restore the warm shine of the metal. There are three simple copper cleaners you can make using ingredients you almost surely have at home. Try mixing lemon juice and baking soda, vinegar and salt, or lemon and salt to create a solution that will cut though grime and restore copper's shine.
As for dealing with a build up of ash, if you have the space for it, simply move your chiminea into open grass and spray it with a strong hose nozzle from time to time. The ashy water will easily absorb into soil.