Mexican Chiminea

Written by Rachel Arieff
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Mexican chimineas are beautiful, clay burning pots that sit on a three- or four-legged stand a few inches above the ground. Chimineas consist of an open-mouthed bowl to hold the fire and a long, slender neck for smoke to escape. Chimineas were first used, it is believed, in 16th century Mexico, and their original purpose was for baking bread.

Today chimineas are extremely popular pieces, both functional and decorative, for outdoor use. They lend an authentic, rustic touch to any area: back yards, front yards, and outdoor decks. When lit with a real fire, their atmospheric effect is sublime. Mexican chimineas are the perfect touch to those summer or fall afternoons, just as the sun goes down.

Bringing Chimineas Indoors

Traditional chimineas are designed for outdoor use only and can be extremely dangerous when used indoors. Traditional wood-burning chimineas are generally not tightly sealed and lack flame control. This means that the flames can easily escape into your home, quickly creating a fire disaster. The same could happen if the chiminea breaks; which, being made of clay and not cast iron or steel, they have been known to do. Finally, chimineas are not vented to the outside, which means that their smoke would fill the interior and asphyxiate everyone in the house.

The one exception to using chimineas indoors involves alcohol-based gel fuels. These fuels come in canisters that are lit like candles and are typically used inside ventless faux fireplaces. There, they yield a controlled flame completely different in nature from that of wood, free of pops, smoke, soot, and carbon emissions. Because of the clean-burning nature of these fuel gels, faux fireplaces require no ventilation system. Only with these fuel gels may chimineas may be safely used indoors.

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