The clay chiminea from Mexico has become a hot seller for patios and terraces. It brings a romantic warm glow to an evening out in the backyard. Even dried and kiln-fired chimineas should be cured, seasoned and sealed. Make sure you perform the seasoning process to harden the clay before you seal the chiminea, to prevent trapping moisture that could crack the chiminea after you heat it. Turn your basic clay chiminea into a great chiminea with these tips.
Step 1: Set Your Chiminea Out of the Prevailing Wind
Place your chiminea on its stand with its back to the prevailing winds to keep your fire alight, and prevent sparks and smoke from blowing around your patio. Be sure it is leveled so it does not tip over.
Step 2: Prepare Your Chiminea for Curing and Seasoning
Inside the bulb base of the chiminea, pour in coarse-grained sand to fill it up to 3 inches below the bulb opening. Set 3 bricks on their long axis, so that 2 of them are 8 inches apart, with the third at a right angle behind them, all edge-down into the sand. This will keep the wood you burn up above the sand.
Step 3: Season and Cure Your Chiminea
The seasoning and curing process fuses the clay and removes any moisture remaining in it. This will prevent cracking and distortion of the clay bulb and chimney when you build larger fires. Cut a few pieces of kindling wood, about 10 inches long and set them atop your brick grate in the chiminea. Light the kindling with a piece of paper, and allow it to burn completely to ash. Make 7 curing fires in your chiminea, one a day for a week. Now you are ready to seal your chiminea.
Step 4: Seal Your Chiminea Against Moisture
Apply a polyurethane liquid wax, such as Future (TM) or a thick paste wax used for hardwood floors. Put the wax on the cloth and smooth it all over the chiminea evenly from bottom to top. Allow it to dry well and cover the chiminea for the first night after waxing. Now your chiminea is ready for large, crackling fires.
Step 5: What Kinds of Wood to Burn in Your Chiminea
Look for pinon pine, mesquite, hickory, apple or maple. These aromatic woods will keep away mosquitoes, making your patio even more pleasant. You can also burn red cedar, but add a screen across the opening of your chiminea to confine sparks inside. Scrap wood should be split down into kindling for your chiminea, as it burns very hot. Use logs no larger than 10 inches around, and up to 14 inches long for a slow-burning, long-lasting fire. Do not burn pressure-treated wood in a chiminea, as it emits toxic fumes from the chemicals. Do not use decorative fireplace logs that shoot out multicolored flames. Dry out green wood before burning. Manage the size of your fire to keep flames from erupting out the chimney top.