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A chiminea is an open fire wood heating tool designed to be used outdoors. It was originally imported from Mexico. Mexican chimeneas were used to create a focused heat source as well as a cooking instrument for people and their families. The design would provide warmth and shelter the fire from winds, rain, and dust. These vessels were originally made from clay as that was the common building component in the Southwest and Mexican lands. The term Mexican chimenea can mean different things but will usually mean that it is made in Mexico from a traditional kiln. The clay was molded, shaped, and then hardened into the familiar design.

You'll see chimineas spelled several different ways, such as with an "e" or an "i". It is pronounced chim-ih-nee-ah.

You'll definitely need to consider the material for your outdoor stove, whether clay or metal. Certain maintenance items apply to certain materials. For example, much like a wood stove, you need to use a light fire for the first few times in order to cure a clay chiminea. This helps the clay harden itself to the rigors of repeated heat. The soot and creosote help create a protective layer in the interior.A copper chiminea may tarnish over time with exposture to the air.

Heating with outdoor stoves is different than using a wood stove or other appliance. Many people use woods like red cedar, which has a nice scent, and mesquite, which is a hot burner. Pinonwood is a popular wood as well for its pleasant scent and its smoke is a natural bug repellant. Keep in mind that you don't have the same access to flues and other techniques to control a hot burning chimenea.

Cast iron chimineas are now available as they are more easily produced commercially and are generally more robust than clay. You can even purchase aluminum versions as well. Some people may not like that they are not "authentic" but using the metal offers long life and easy care. A garden chimenea is often made of aluminum for example. If you are not a hard core traditionalist though, many buyer like the aluminum chiminea for its ease of setup and manageable weight.




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