A Mexican clay chiminea is a beautiful and practical addition to any backyard garden or patio. Clay chimineas are a beautiful and affordable way to be able to enjoy your outdoor living space, even when the air is nippy. By learning to care for your chiminea properly, you can ensure that it will have a long and problem-free life with your family.
A chiminea is made up of two parts – the bowl, where the fire is made, and the chimney-like neck. The stack of a clay chiminea is usually attached to the bowl with only a thin layer of clay, which means that you should never lift the chiminea by its top. You can easily break your chiminea in half that way. Instead, be sure to always carry the chiminea around the base – or better yet, use a hand truck or cart to do your moving for you.
If you’ve just bought a new clay chiminea, your first reaction might be to run home, build a big fire, and start enjoying it! However, the clay of your Mexican fireplace requires seasoning to prepare it for a long life of cooking.
To season a new chiminea, build a small fire with fat wood, and allow it to burn out on its own and cool completely before lighting another fire. This hardens the clay gradually, sealing the inside of the fireplace and preventing cracks and hot spots. Use this process for the first five to ten fires you light.
Chiminea clay is usually not fired, but rather simply painted. This means that in its bare state, it is vulnerable to water. In order to prevent rain damage to your Mexican fireplace, apply a sealant to the outside of your chiminea as soon as possible after purchase. Acrylic floor finish and wood sealants are good choices that will protect both the clay and the paint of your fireplace.
Clay chimineas may also crack or shatter if they are left out in the cold. Unless you live in a temperate climate, it is a good idea to store your chiminea in a garage or spare closet any time there is a danger of freezing.
By taking proper care of your Mexican chiminea, you can ensure the longest life and the most value for your money possible.