Updated: February 4, 2017
Chiminea Safety Tips
No one wants to endanger their family for the sake of fun. The same can be said of your home, neighbors, and friends. So, what exactly do you need to do to keep safe while using your chiminea?
Chiminea use and safety
Chimineas are lovely outdoor fireplaces that have a wide variety of uses. The most common use of a chiminea is its purpose as the focal point for outdoor patios and gardens. While using your chiminea, there are some important safety issues to keep in mind, because you certainly don’t want an emergency situation during a gathering of family and friends.
1. Keep your chiminea away from flammable objects
While it may seem tempting to place your chiminea underneath an awning or lawn shade, this is not a good idea. The draft created by the design of the chiminea directs sparks and smoke up the stack and out over the heads of your guests. This draft could send sparks up into your awning, creating a fire.
2. Always place your chiminea on a fireproof or fire resistant surface
The base of a chiminea can set fire to things such as wood, cloth, and grass. This is due to the high temperatures the chiminea can reach while being used. If you place your chiminea on a wooden deck without proper protection you run the risk of setting your deck on fire. Only place the chiminea on surfaces such as sand, slate tiles, terracotta, or another fire-resistant surface that will not conduct the heat to flammable surfaces nearby.
3. Use a spark arrestor
As stated, the draft created by your chiminea will take smoke and sparks upwards through the stack. By installing a simple spark arrestor, you will protect your neighbors and family from burns and your vegetation from catching fire. A spark arrestor is not difficult to create, as it can be a simple bit of chicken wire bent around the top of the chiminea stack. When sparks hit the arrestor they will either instantly cool, or be held til they turn to ash and fall back to the base.
4. Do not touch your chiminea while it is being used
Chimineas get hot. Very hot. Remember to warn guests and children of this, as there is no reason you should have an emergency room visit for an avoidable burn. Some owners place a low wall around their chimineas as a reminder to others that getting close is dangerous. This practice is very useful and could save someone unnecessary pain.
5. Do not create large fires in your chiminea
Chimineas are not designed for large fires. If the fire is too big, the chiminea can crack, shatter, or even explode, which will injure those around it. If there are sparks or flames coming out of the front of the bowl, or top of the stack, the fire is too big and you’ll want to quickly grab a pair of fireplace tongs and remove larger pieces of wood, placing them on a non-flammable surface to cool. Do this until the fire has reached a safe level again.
One way to avoid trouble is to make sure you are using properly sized pieces of wood to begin with. Larger pieces of wood are going to create high flames, so make sure the wood fits well into your chiminea with plenty of room to be shifted about if needed.
6. Use proper tinder for your chiminea
While it may sound like a great idea to use accelerants like lighter fluid or gasoline to get your fire started quickly, you run the risk of harming not only your chiminea but also yourself and your family. Instead, consider tinder such as smaller shredded wood, dry paper, or even self-lighting charcoal to be sure that your fire does not grow too quickly. The simple reason behind this is the risk of explosion. Whether your chiminea is made of clay or metal, too much heat too quickly can cause the walls to crack and shatter, resulting in injuries at worst, and a ruined chiminea at best.
7. Avoid burning during very dry weather
Rather than risk unintentionally starting a fire that could spread very quickly, avoid burning a fire in your chiminea during dry weather. Sparks are far more likely to cause a fire in the surrounding grass or bushes during this type of weather.
A good rule of thumb if you are unsure about the weather is to check with your local fire department to see if there is a burn ban in effect in your area. Following safety procedures is always the best way to be sure you do not end up with the fire department at your home due to a fire or injury.
8. Use common sense and enjoy
Your chiminea can be the most enjoyable point in your garden or on your patio. If you follow the simple safety tips listed above, you can be sure to enjoy many fun evenings around the chiminea with your family and friends for years to come.