Originating from Mexico the Chiminea, or backyard and patio fire garden heaters, have become very popular in the United States as well as the United Kingdom. They were supposedly developed thousands of years ago by tribesmen to keep their families warm as well as to provide a vessel for cooking. Shaped and designed to utilize a small amount of fuel and keep the rain off of the fire, the original Chiminea were designed to burn wood or other types of fuel. Due to the fragile nature of the clay, they many times would crack over a period of time. When this would happen, the locals would scoop clay from the river bed and repair it or form a new one.
The word Chiminea is used interchangeably now to describe any type of backyard fire pit. These are usually located in a space designed specifically for entertaining and used to add warmth and beauty to the location as well as serve as a functional device. The shape and design of the Chiminea creates an almost instantaneous heat source when lit. Many times pinionwood is burned in them which gives off an aromatic scent and has bug repellent qualities.
The clay Chimineas that are being imported from Mexico are unable to withstand the extreme temperatures found in many parts of the United States and the United Kingdom. They were not designed to withstand the rains or the intense cold that they are subjected to in many parts of the world. They are also available in cast iron and aluminum. These hold up and do better in areas that have a lot or rainfall or temperature extremes. While these are much more durable, they are also much more expensive.
Most Chiminea are designed to be approximately five feet high and two feet wide. Some are designed to have a door that will close off the fire area. Those that are created from Terra Cota will usually display a rich patina that will change colors over time.
Whether you choose to invest in a traditional Chiminea or one constructed from one of the alternate materials you will be pleased with the addition that they will make to your space.