What you can use as fuel
For chiminea first timers, and for those who would like to use their chiminea to bbq or grill then the easiest option is charcoal. You can find charcoal briquettes at most supermarkets or DIY centres and they are inexpensive. Find 'self lighting' versions and then all you have to do is use a match, long kitchen matches are best, to start the fire off. It really takes little or no effort and within 20 minutes you should have a fire ready for food.
The inventors of the chiminea, the Mayan people of Central America, burnt wood in their chiminea so it's an obvious choice for you too. Generally, dry hard wood is the best option. Never burn green wood or wood that you have just taken from a tree. It will produce lots of smoke and little fire. Save this idea for when you are stranded on a desert island rather than using it in your chiminea.
If you would like to add an extra dimension to your fire then try adding aromatic wood in with you regular fire logs. Red cedar, gives off a lovely aroma, as does applewood. If you are plagued by mosquitoes in the evening you can use Pinon which not only gets rid of the little monsters but also produces a quite delightful aroma.
Going back to the Mayan people of Central America, they used 'Ocote' in their clay chiminea. This is a fast growing hard wood native to the slopes of the mountains in Central and South America and it services to purposes. One, it is a natural firelighter which is easy to light and start your fire. It also gives off a sweet aroma due to its high resin content. So if you are looking to 'go-native' with your chiminea then give it a try.
As an alternative to charcoal and wood you can buy eco logs. These are simply compressed sawdust that are shaped into logs. If you can find ones that are sealed in wax paper that is even better as you can light the bag directly with a match or lighter and that is all it takes to get the fire going. Just sit back and enjoy up to two hours of warmth. You can always add in more logs later if you wish.
Other types of fuel
You are not limited to charcoal and wood, however. Most metal chiminea can use gas or propane inserts specificlly designed for chiminea. You can use them when feeling lazy and just want to warm up or replace them when you want to make a real fire.
A less common alternative is alcohol gel. This usually comes in a tin that you open and then light directly once placed in your chiminea. One big advantage is that it opens the possibility of using your chiminea indoors which otherwise would be impossibe. The only by-product of alcohol gel is water so there is no danger of asphyxiation. It must be stressed though that you must check the instructions carefully of any fuel that you think you can use indoors. And you must also use common sense when placing your chiminea inside your home. It will still get very hot and is a fire hazard if used inappropriately. Never try to cook anything when using it indoors.
What you should not burn in a chiminea
Use common sense here. I can't possibly list everything that you shouldn't burn but here are a few common things that you should keep away from your chiminea.
- Treated wood or wood pellets
- Green wood
- Petroleum based accelerants
If in any doubt regarding what you should burn in your chiminea then always refer to the instructions provided. If you still have any questions then contact your supplier or the manufacturer direct and get some advice.
Special warning about fires in clay chiminea:
Always put sand or stones in the bottom of your chiminea before starting any fire. Clay is prone to cracking when exposed to dramatic changes in temperature. It's just not worth the heart break of ruining your brand new chiminea at the first attempt.
Home and Garden Links
- Square Gazebo Plans
- Italian herb garden
- Wooden Garden Sheds
- Chiminea Sale
- Cast Iron Chiminea
- solar energy facts
- Garden Gazebo Plans
Brad on November 30, 2018:
Great compendium on Chimenea. I liked reading about its history.
It does make intensely hot fires.
sheila on June 25, 2016:
I have just bought my first clay chimenea so this has been very informative. I will definitely be trying the aromatic wood if I can find some in my area. Many Thanks.
Nanny Bling on May 02, 2016:
Very helpful. I have recently purchased a cast iron chiminea for our new seating area my husband built but was unsure what to burn. Looking forward to using it now.
Andy Fraser from Maidstone England on August 10, 2015:
Great article. Does anyone know if you could burn brambles in one....after they have been chopped down and then left to completely dry up, I mean? I just wondered as it would be a way of getting rid of them
havoc2699 on June 12, 2015:
Thanks for the info, looking forward to the summer nights entertaining guests with our new Chiminea. Great post too.
rosleen on February 15, 2011:
thank you i,am now so looking forward to use my chiminea didn,t know i could use so many different thing,s to burn i will start stocking up on all the charcoal log,s etc for summer nights outside roll on the summer cheer,s
pie person on December 21, 2010:
helps a little but im sure ive had a chimnae longer than you i just wanted to see if chimney sweep logs were safe. Even though you didn't have that it was hepful
Tomono (author) on March 16, 2010:
Glad you like it everyone. I will try to add more soon.
Chris on February 23, 2010:
Lee on February 23, 2010:
Good articles, thank you so much.
Tomono (author) on February 19, 2010:
Thanks Relica. It's so nice to get some comments on my hubs!
relica from California on February 19, 2010:
Love your hub. I have been wanting to incorporate a chiminea into my back patio design. Great information!
Tomono (author) on February 18, 2010:
You can burn lots of things in a chiminea. Think I might go light mine now with a little Ocote.
Phil Rees on February 18, 2010:
Interesting. I thought you where resticted in your choice of fuel.
Tomono (author) on February 18, 2010:
Thanks for the comments. Let me know if you'd like any other related articles too.
Johnny Boy on February 17, 2010:
Nice piece. Helps me get my head around the whole chiminea thing.
LewisD on February 17, 2010:
Like it! Very useful reference for newbie chiminea owners.