There are different ways you can heat up your backyard, from patio heaters, fire pits to chimineas. Your choice will depend on your preferences, budget, and the heat output you want. However, in this article, we will focus on cast iron chimineas.
For those of you who do not know- the word chiminea means ‘chimney’ in Spanish. However, these ‘fire pits’ originated from Mexico. In the past, they were only made out of clay. Yet, today you have a wide variety of materials to choose from cast iron to stainless steel.
In this article, we will discuss why you need to go for a cast iron chiminea and recommend some of the best products available in the market.
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Why Go For A Chiminea And Not A Fire Pit
The first question you might have is why anyone should choose a chiminea over the more popular fire pits? Well, there are plenty of reasons.
Apart from their rich history, which spans hundreds of years, several features make chimineas better. They include;
The design of chimineas makes them very safe. This is because the flame is typically directed up and out of the well-designed stack of the chiminea. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about shooting sparks or flames, which might cause an accident. Also, the smoke is directed upwards and away from where you might be sitting.
Better than wood fire pits:
While we are aware that there are fire pits that use gas, some still use wood. These type of fire pits are usually uneconomical and often requires more tending. A chiminea is designed to be as fuel-efficient as can be.
Once you have a few logs burning, you can sit back and enjoy the fire for hours to come. This is because chimineas were first designed to function as ovens for bread making. Wood fire pits, on the other hand, burn out a lot quicker, and you have to keep adding more firewood.
Also, you can not sufficiently control the direction of the smoke produced by fire pits.
Another thing we had mentioned earlier is safety. Chimineas are safer because they do not produce loose sparks or flames; thus, they can be placed in more places than fire pits.
Moreover, some modern chimineas can be powered by gas, meaning they can even be used for indoor heating- sort of like a fireplace. The open flame design of a fire pit cannot allow you to use it indoors, even if it uses propane.
Types of chimineas
There are three main types of chimineas (cast iron, clay, and stainless steel)
These are the more traditional versions. However, there are still popular, and you can find them easily. If you are looking for an olde-worlde style, these are the ones you should go for. However, they are more delicate and cannot withstand harsh winter weather or constant rain.
This is because clay is prone to cracking. Therefore, you have to continually maintain them, which can be a tussle. Also, they can’t exceed a particular heat output; that is why you always have to use wood and not charcoal to prevent them from overheating, resulting in shuttering.
Nonetheless, they have the best heat retention capability.
Cast Iron Chimineas
If you want to enjoy the heat retention capability but still have a chiminea that will last you a lifetime, then you have to go for a cast-iron one. They are robust, durable, and do not require a lot of maintenance.
Additionally, unlike the clay ones, with cast iron chimineas, you have a wide variety of fuels to choose from wood, charcoal, and coal. This is because they can burn at very high temperatures without shuttering.
They are also more resistant to exposure to elements such as snow and water.
Stainless steel chimineas
These are the cheapest of the lot for a reason. First, they are not as durable as cast iron or even clay since they are prone to damage, rust, and wear and tear. However, the thing we don’t like the most about them is the heat retention.
You will have to use a lot of firewood to keep them up and running for long. This is because stainless steel does not insulate heat.
However, if you have a small backyard or you are just looking for a temporary solution, you can go for these.
Overview of the best cast-iron Chimineas
Am sure by now you already know our favorite type of chiminea. However, with the numerous brands available in the market, buying one that meets your needs can be hectic. That is why we have compiled a list of some of the best cast-iron chimineas that we believe you will love.
Best Overall: Bali Outdoor Fireplace Wooden Fire Pit, Chiminea
When it comes to outdoor heating, you can always rely on Bali. This company is known for producing high quality yet affordable products. This is why this chiminea had to make it on our list. It has a simplistic and traditional design.
Nonetheless, it packs all the excellent features you would want in a modern chiminea.
To start with, you can term it as a cross between a chiminea and a fire pit. This is because you get to enjoy the full view of the flame. However, it is enclosed in a wire mesh. The mesh has a sliding door where you can add wood or remove ash with ease.
Therefore, you get to enjoy the benefits of both a fire pit and a chiminea while reducing all the risks associated with wood fire pits. You can even use artificial logs and charcoal.
It is made from heavy-duty cast iron, making it very durable and sturdy. It might look small- however, this chiminea is massive. It has a fire cage area measuring 22 inches in diameter and 20 inches high, which is quite impressive.
This leaves you with plenty of room to place long logs and increases airflow, allowing for even hotter flames. Due to its height and design, smoke is quickly funneled upwards. You no longer have to worry about smoke-stung eyes. In general, this is an affordable product that offers all the features you might want in a chiminea.
Best Design: Deckmate Sonora Outdoor Chiminea Fireplace Model 30199
If aesthetics is your priority, then this chiminea from Deskmate should be at the top of your list. It comes in a rustic brushed gold color that is just perfect for any outdoor space. This because it can easily merge with the natural colors of your backyard.
Apart from its looks, it does have some impressive features. At first glance, you can mistake it for the Bali model. However, this one has a significantly longer chimney. This is meant to funnel smoke more efficiently and also allow proper airflow.
Just like most modern chimineas, this one can run on wood or artificial logs. Since it is made from heavy-duty cast iron, it can withstand high temperatures without shuttering. Hence you get to enjoy a higher heat output.
To give you a 360-degree view of the flame, the chiminea is fitted with a wire mesh that goes around it and connects the base to the chimney. It also has large sliding doors that allow you to add wood or remove ashes effortlessly.
Most versatile: Deeco DM-0039-IA-C Aztec Allure Cast Iron Pizza Oven Chiminea
If you are looking for a multi-functional chiminea, then look no further. You can literally turn this product from a chiminea to an oven or even to an outside grill. I don’t think anything beats grilling your food or the smell of pizza as you enjoy the warmth of an outdoor fireplace.
It comes with a stainless still barbeque grill. To access it, just remove the sunburst, light up your wood, and you are good to go. However, if you feel like eating pizza, the Aztec Allure design allows you to fit a pizza that is up to 14 inches. All you have to do is cover up the grill with the sunburst, and you have your outdoor oven.
It is made from heavy-duty cast iron. However, to lock in more heat, the top oven part is lined with fiberglass. While it does require a bit of assembling before you can have it up and running- the whole process is easy, and you won’t need any tools. Nonetheless, due to all these excellent attributes, this chiminea is a bit expensive.
However, if you have a few bucks to spend, we highly recommend you go for it. It is worth every penny.
Best Traditional Design: Esschert Design Medium Terra Heater
Some of us prefer a more traditional feel to our backyard. If you are one such person, this is the product for you. The Esschert chiminea is crafted to resemble the real or old-school design that was popularized in Mexico. The only significant difference is that it is made from cast iron rather than clay.
In terms of features, it boasts almost the same attributes as the Deckmate Sonora Outdoor Chiminea. However, it does not have a wire mesh lining to give you a 360-degree view of the flame. This is not always a bad thing since almost all of the smoke is funneled through the chimney.
Also, not having a wire mesh makes it more fuel-efficient since it reduces the wood’s combustion rate. Therefore you get to enjoy a warm fire for a more extended period.
While in our article, we have recommended some of the best cast-iron chimineas, you must prioritize your needs and environment first. For example, due to the smoke, they produce you need to have a big backyard not to affect your neighbors.
Lastly, remember that these products require regular maintenance such as covering the chiminea when not in use, cleaning, and reapplying heat paint.