How to use a Chiminea

Chimineas, or ‘Chimeneas’, are a front-loading form of metal stove which originated in Spain. Characterised by their bulbous, often cast-iron body and vertical chimney, chimineas have become increasingly popular sources of heat for outdoor events and spaces over the past few years. Chimineas are incredibly good outdoor heaters and project their heat across quite a wide distance. These Spanish wood burners are also known for their durability and incredible heat retention allowing you to keep your garden or patio warm all night and still be able to relight its contents the next day.

Yet how do you use one of these rustic wood burners to its maximum effect?

Whilst maintaining a wood burning stove may seem quite daunting at first, chimineas are in fact incredibly easy to use and, once they’re burning, can retain their heat for over twelve hours. With this simple guide, you will be able to have your chiminea up and running with minimal fuss and with great results, providing warmth and comfort for any outdoor occasion.


Step One: Installing your Chiminea

The best place to have your chiminea is in a permanent, outdoor location and on a flat surface such as a patio. Chimineas can be very heavy, therefore you will not want to have to move it very often and, if you do, they are susceptible to cracking if they are dropped. It is also good idea to place your chiminea in a location where it heats the most amount of space around it, however, do not put flammable objects or those likely to melt at high temperatures near to the chiminea for it will get very hot. Also give yourself one to two hours before you actually need to use your chimenea for it will take quite a while to reach maximum efficiency.

Step Two: Preparing your Chiminea

Make sure the inner chamber is clear of any old ash or debris before lighting a fire and pour around four inches of sand or gravel inside the chiminea to help keep smoke from billowing out of it when it is lit.

If your chiminea has a lid, make sure you take it off as this will prevent air getting to the fire making it harder to light, and, if it has a grate, fix this inside the chiminea so you can start lighting your fire on it. Once your chiminea is prepared for lighting, make sure you have plenty of fire wood nearby as well, to keep it burning once lit.

Step Three: Lighting your Chiminea

When lighting your chiminea, place small bundles of newspaper or birch bark into the centre of the chamber and light these at multiple locations. Once these have caught light create a modest pyramid out of kindling around the fire to keep it burning or, if you want a more efficient material, you can use natural firelighters which are packed full of flammable resin to get your fire burning more quickly. Do not use chemical firelighters as these produce foul smelling chemicals and never put any type of flammable oil or gasoline in the fire as this could create an inferno which will not only ruin your chimenea but also potentially harm anyone nearby.

Keep adding to the kindling, but do not smother the fire with wood. The chiminea will begin to smoke a bit at first but this will soon die down. After burning for about an hour, light a larger fire using logs or wood adding small amounts and small logs at first and building up to larger pieces of wood as the fire builds up its intensity.

Step Four: Keeping your Chiminea warm

Allow the roaring fire to burn for another hour until you have white hot embers inside the chamber. At this point leave the chiminea to burn, poking the embers to allow air to flow around them and keep the heat at a maximum.

From here on your chiminea will continue to burn and produce heat for over twelve hours providing you with a very comfortable heat at every angle throughout the day or night. When you are finished with the chiminea, just let its content burn down to ash and, when cool, clean it out for the next time you want to use it.

10th October 2017



Shelley says:
2nd June 2020 at 4:20 pm
Hi we have recently bought a chimnea and have tried to cook a few things in it however they burn quite easily. I have read that you cook the food in the embers whereas my partner keeps the flames going by putting more wood on. But it does look as if the flames have gone out and he’s worried it won’t cook the food. What’s the best way and wood or charcoal to use for cooking? We have bought soft wood.

Andrew Shuttleworth says:
3rd June 2020 at 11:51 am
As with cooking over coals on a BBQ, you are aiming to cook above hot embers only and not flames to allow for an even and thorough cook. With regards to whether to cook using wood or coal, I personally would recommend wood as it infuses a better flavour into the food.

Gary says:
14th April 2021 at 5:52 pm
Use the embers to cook on, there is plenty of cooking heat in them! Flames will ruin anything you try to cook

Shirley C Dennis says:
5th May 2021 at 4:41 pm
Thanks for the tips. I do have a couple other concerns… Many manufactures highly recommend sealing your chimenea before setting first fire. They recommend using a waterproof sealer for concrete. However, after reading the sealant’s label I did not see that it could be used on a clay surface with high heat source such as the outside surface of the chimenea. So, what sealant product do you recommend? Thanks for your assistance in advance.

Andrew Shuttleworth says:
23rd June 2021 at 3:03 pm
We would advise a product such as La Hacienda’s Chimseal for this application. Regretably, we no longer supply this here at Glowing Embers.