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All About Fireplaces

Indoor Fireplaces - Warm, comfortable and atmosphere-enhancing

When most people think of fireplaces, indoor fireplaces are the only things that come to mind. For this reason, it may not seem that a discussion of them is even necessary. But given the wide variety of other choices of outdoor fireplaces, patio heaters, chimineas, cooking tripods for firepits, and other outdoor choices, there is certainly a distinction to be made between outdoor and indoor fireplace choices.

When discussing indoor fireplaces, it further makes sense to point out the wide selection of options available, including masonry heaters and traditional masonry fireplaces, natural gas and propane fireplaces, and freestanding “fireplace substitute” wood stoves. These “fireplace substitutes”, complete with large transparent glass viewing area, are an increasingly attractive alternative to the more labor-intensive fireplace installation within a wall. For many homeowners, a freestanding fireplace or “fireplace substitute” made of stone, cast-iron, or plate steel offers the same ambiance as a traditional fireplace while making minimal demands as far as construction, requiring only a chimney, heat-resistant floor material, and adequate clearances to any nearby combustible materials.

Here are a few types of indoor fireplaces available at

Indoor fireplaces come in a variety of shapes and sizes, offering whole-home comfort or little more than an accent. There are fireplaces which are certified for installation in a bedroom or bathroom, and even smaller units meant for installation in a mobile home. Some are made with such mundane materials as limestone or even clay bricks, while the most opulent fireplaces are made of bronze, silver, even gold or platinum!

While luxury fireplaces constructed of precious metals may be well beyond the budget of most homeowners, there are many highly tasteful options which are considerably easier on the wallet, some of which even offer gold, silver, copper, or bronze highlights, making lighter use of the highly valuable materials while still providing their gleam and attractiveness.

When choosing an indoor fireplace, many factors play into the decision process, including the practical concerns of budget and other available heating options, but you'll also want to consider the value of a relaxing evening next to your own open hearth, flames crackling as you spend time with your family. As well, heating your main living space with a fireplace can reduce your bills by letting you turn down your furnace while still staying comfortable.


Outdoor Fireplaces - A flame in the back yard.

If you're looking for a larger fire, a grated cylinder style outdoor fireplace may be a better choice. Grated cylinder style units have a simple, open design: a bottom basin for the fire, a grate for cooking food, open grating surrounding the basin and a lid. Many models have wheels, allowing the fireplace to be easily moved. And unlike a chiminea, which only has one opening, the grated cylinder style allows the fire to be viewed by everyone. A grated cylinder style outdoor fireplace starts at $100 and uses wood, or sometimes either natural gas or propane for its fuel.

On a larger scale, there is a permanent outdoor fireplace. Similar to a traditional indoor fireplace, the outdoor fireplace can be an extension of the house or patio, or it can be completely free-standing. Some outdoor fireplace models include a drainage system to divert rainwater away from the fire. The available styles are simply firepits within stone wall enclosures, while others are more elaborate and include a mantel and hearth. There are nearly limitless options available. You are limited only by your imagination… and your budget, of course.

Here are some outdoor fireplaces we carry:

Whenever the summer season draws nearer, we look forward to the times and places where we can spend time with friends and family such as the pool, the cottage or the lake, and the fireplace. Not your regular indoor masonry fireplace of course – most houses don't even have one today, and they can be very expensive to install. Increasingly, people want to gather around a semi-portable fireplace which can be located on the patio or in the backyard. Such outdoor fireplaces provide summertime gatherings with an enjoyable ambiance, and they are less expensive than you might think.

One of the most common types of outdoor fireplace is the chiminea, which features a bowl-shaped base with a single opening which connects to a short chimney or stack. In some cases, chimineas are described as patio heaters, but the two do have some significant differences. A chiminea can be made of a variety of materials – most commonly cast-iron, aluminum, ceramic, clay or terra cotta. Chimineas are generally meant to contain smaller fires, but the heavy duty cast-iron models are more durable and can be used for relatively large fires. Chimineas are best used during the summer and stored during the winter, as some of the materials (most notably terra cotta or clay) can crack when heated in cold temperatures. Chimineas range in price from $150 to $250 for a very basic, low-end model. High-end models with features such as safety grills and pitched chimney stacks to contain ash and embers start at around $500. Only firewood should be used in a chiminea unless the manufacturer specifies that other fuels can be burned.


Chimineas - Outdoor fireplaces at their finest.

The chiminea is by far the most common kind of outdoor fireplace. It basically consists of a concave base, an opening in the front through which to fuel the fire, and a short chimney or smoke stack. You can find chimineas constructed from a variety of materials, most commonly cast-iron, aluminum, copper, ceramic or terra cotta. A chiminea is typically designed for very small fires, mostly for style rather than function. Despite this, there are larger, more durable units which are typically made of cast-iron. These chimineas are meant for a closely supervised but sizable bonfire within the safety of your own back yard.

Chimineas and other outdoor fireplaces are generally intended for summer use with the intention of winter storage, since clay or terra cotta can easily crack in extremely cold winter temperatures if a fire is built inside. Although cast-iron chimineas are at no real risk of cracking, precipitation such as snow and sleet will very quickly rust them into disuse. So in any case, your best bet is to replace a chiminea with an outdoor patio heater for the winter season. Chiminea prices can range from $150 all the way to well over $500 depending on the construction materials, size, and other features such as covers.

Choose from one of these great chimineas:

Some chimineas have safety grills or pitched chimneys to prevent hot embers or glowing ash from floating away and posing a risk of fire, while others are really nothing more than a firebox with a hole in the top. Whatever type of chiminea you may have, you should only burn firewood inside of it. Other substances are known to release toxic chemicals when burned. This can destroy the atmosphere of your gathering - literally as well as figuratively. Additionally, some solid fuels such as coal may leave hard-to-clean deposits on the inside of your fireplace.

Outdoor fireplaces are becoming a very popular way for people to gather together and experience the outdoors without having to trek far from home. If you ever find yourself thinking fondly of childhood memories of open campfires, wood smoke and no air conditioning, an outdoor wood stove might just be the thing to try.


Electric Fireplaces - Convenience and simplicity at the cost of aesthetics.

Electric fireplaces are an even more convenient alternative to traditional wood-burning or ventless natural gas/propane fireplaces and stoves. Lacking the need for any kind of permanent ventilation structure such as a chimney or a flue, electric fireplaces can be set against fireplace mantels or moved to different rooms and used when needed.

Older electric fireplaces provided quick heat, but they were not as cost-effective for long-term use due to cheap design and short life. The other major issue with electric fireplaces has traditionally been that they looked “fake” and were generally not a very attractive centerpiece. Modern, advanced electric fireplaces have far more aesthetically appealing views, including fiber optic displays, or randomized lights designed to simulate the look of dancing flames. However, if “real” flames are important to you, the obviously artificial look of electrical fireplaces may be a deal breaker.

Like other types of portable electric heaters, electric fireplaces are able to radiate heat very quickly and can just as quickly be shut down for the night. In addition, there are many models which are portable and safe for use in cottages and mobile homes.

Models of electrical fireplaces range widely in size, with 20”- 42" models the more popular options. For owners who have cemented chimneys but don't wish to lose the allure of a fireplace, they may opt for an electric fireplace insert – this has the dual benefit of filling the unused space left by your fireplace and preventing the loss of additional heat through the open chimney.

Here are a few electric fireplaces:

Electric fireplaces are generally preferred where portability, convenience, and low initial cost are important but aesthetics are a secondary concern. It is also worth noting that dollar for dollar an electric fireplace will generally yield much less heating energy than a natural gas or propane unit – so if you're looking at a system for primary heating or to provide economical backup heat, an electric fireplace may not be the best option for you.


Alternative Fuel Fireplaces - Renewable choice for a ‘greener' heating system.

Due to increasing awareness of environmental issues combined with rising energy prices, more and more people are interested in environmentally friendly fuel options for home heating and entertainment. Although wood-burning fireplaces use a renewable fuel, many people see them as dirty, because their emissions traditionally included dirt, ash, and other particulate matter (PM) which are now regulated in many areas. In order to address these issues, the EPA Clean-burning Wood stoves and Fireplaces Program was implemented.

But there are other renewable fuels – wood pellets , corn, even alcohol (ethanol). All of these fuels are derived from plants, rather than from fossil sources. All of these fuels can be grown domestically, and in the case of wood pellets, the raw material already exists – it has only to be processed into the small pellet shape necessary for use in pellet-burning stoves and furnaces.

Different fuels provide different benefits. Since wood pellets are made of sawdust or other wood waste from existing industries, they serve as an inexpensive way to make use of what is essentially garbage. In addition, when trees or other plants grow, they store up carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air. When they are burned, the CO2 that is released is only what was present in the air before the plants absorbed it. As such, burning wood, ethanol, or other plant matter does not contribute any new carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which is believed to be at least partially responsible for global warming or climate disruption.


Gel Fireplaces - Crackling Sound Like a Real Fire.

Gel fuels are typically a thickened ethanol that comes in a can, much like the cans used with fondue sets. These have the same environmental benefits as other ethanol-fueled heating systems, but tend to have a shorter burn time of only an hour or two. In addition, gel-fueled fireplaces tend to be less expensive than designer fireplaces that burn liquid ethanol. If you want to have an easily lit fire of a short duration, a gel-fueled fireplace might be a good option for you. If inexpensive heat and a long time between re-fueling is the main goal, you should consider a wood pellet stove or fireplace insert.

Gel fireplaces can be placed in any room of your home with no installation hookup, gas lines or construction. These are one of the most efficient fireplaces on the market. Gel fireplaces are designed and operated in a very different way than traditional fireplaces. Many individuals are opting for this type of fireplace for many reasons.

Gel fireplaces do not function by burning wood, but instead they operate through the burning of a grain-alcohol gel. Each can of gel can burn for about 2 - 3 hours. While the gel is burning and producing heat in the room, there are no fumes or smoke released into the room. These products do; however, release a very small amount of carbon dioxide into the air. This is the same gas we breathe out with each breath. The amount is so minimal that there is no cause for worry. These units have passed all the standard safety tests regarding this form of gas in the air.

Gel fireplaces and replacement gel fuel:

Faux Fireplaces - Can you tell the difference?

These fireplaces still appear as normal fires with flames and even produce the crackling noises that real fires make. They heat your home and provide your family with a comfortable living environment, while requiring very little maintenance. Before you purchase one of these heating units, you should know that while they do provide warmth to your home, they are not designed as a primary heating source for your home. You will still need your furnace or other heating systems to provide warmth to your entire home.

If you're the kind of person who wants your home to look complete with a fireplace, but hates the hassle involved with the maintenance of these products, a gel fireplace is perfect for you. There's no soot, smoke, fume or creosote involved which means that there is virtually no clean-up involved either. Gel fireplaces are not only easy to maintain but they are also the most energy efficient, cost effective heating units on the market.

If you are looking to purchase a gel fireplace for your home, expect to pay at least a thousand dollars for a middle-end model. These heating units can cost considerably more, depending on the features and model of the fireplace. Despite the initial cost, these fireplaces are well worth the money and will add elegance, class and warmth to your home.

Many households don't have fireplaces – that's an unfortunate fact for anyone who is a romantic or who simply appreciates the beauty of a hearth with dancing flames on a cool fall or winter day. But there options even for apartment dwellers and others with limited space or no existing fireplace enclosure or ventilation system (such as a flue or chimney). These include direct vent natural gas fireplaces, which can use a very small ventilation tube to move exhaust gases outside, or even vent less natural gas fireplaces, which are so efficient that the combustion exhaust can be safely released inside the room without harming its inhabitants.

Many locations do not have readily accessible gas fixtures, or may not have gas service at all. In such a location, other choices are available including portable denatured ethanol fireplaces, gel fireplaces, or electric fireplaces. But some people only need the ambiance of a fireplace, without the heat itself. Whether they live in a temperate climate with no need for supplementary heating or they already have a fully functional and economical heating system, a full fireplace capable of heating the home is outside of their budget range for the project. In such cases, a faux fireplace tends to be a very good option.

Faux probably looks like a familiar word to most of you – in fact, it's simply French for “false”. Faux, or false fireplaces allow the ambiance of a fireplace without the need for major renovations, the installation of a chimney, ongoing fuel bills, or any of the other challenges that are typically involved when purchasing and installing a fireplace. Some of these fixtures are home made, but in most cases they come as a kit, including a faux mantle and fireplace surround, a small fireplace enclosure which fits into the wall, and a platform allowing candles to be placed inside of the fireplace. Faux fireplaces can be purchased for as little as $100, but in most cases will fall into the $600 - $1,000 range once fully installed.

So if your only real concern is the aesthetic appeal of having a fireplace and the heat provided by one is specifically undesirable, a faux fireplace might be for you. If only the cost gets in the way, consider a low-end natural gas or propane fireplace as a supplementary heat source.


FAQS On Outdoor Fire Pits/ Chimineas


How do chimineas compare to fire pits?
A fire pit is an open burning bowl, whereas a chiminea is built with a chimney. The outdoor fireplace products on the market that have mesh wrap-around, multi-openings or bowl designs should be considered fire pits. There are many fire pits incorrectly advertised as chimineas, but they are not chimineas. A chiminea will have a flue or chimney that drafts properly much like an indoor fireplace. The drafting on a chiminea naturally brings fresh air into the fire and directs smoke up, away from guests.

Fire pits have a tendency to be hard to light and smoke and smolder due to not having a neck or flue for proper drafting. Fire pits also have safety concerns regarding the possibility of a sudden gust of wind blowing embers into dry grass, deck, or a neighbor’s property. The Blue Rooster chimineas are designed similar to the traditional Spanish fireplaces that have been made for over 400 years. Traditional design chimineas will get used more often than firepits due to easy lighting and ability to be lit in windy conditions. Anyone who has experienced burning in a chiminea and compared it to a fire pit will choose a chiminea as the superior design.



Fire Pits


Chimney provides natural drafting.

No drafting.


Fuel efficient and clean burning.

Excess smoke and soot.


Cap keeps rain out.

Fill with water, ash soup.


Protects fire from wind gusts.

Ash and sparks fly.


Chimney directs smoke above head level.

Guests exposed to smoke.


Enclosed fire with mouth screen, spark arrestor.

Open burning.


Cooking and burning device. Class 1 Enclosed.

Fire pit. Class 2 Open Burning.


Occasional painting.

Buy a new one.


Sturdy solid design.

A small child can flip one.

Starting Fire

Drafting feeds fresh air and easy fire building.

See Boy Scout manual.


Do you recommend clay or metal chimineas?
A cast iron or cast aluminum chiminea is always going to be a better investment that will last many years after a clay one falls apart. The majority of clay fireplaces have a life span of less then a year before needing to be replaced. We recommend metal chimineas to anyone considering purchasing a chiminea.

Below are some cast aluminum alloy chimineas:

Clay chiminea quality is based on a combination of many factors; using the right mixtures of clay, proper mixing of clay, firing techniques, using fresh molds, assembly of molded clay and paint applications - all of which play a part in providing a high quality, consistent clay product. When buying a clay chiminea there is no way to know if all these factors have been achieved.

Clay chimineas are inexpensive because they are made of burnt dirt. Here is a good test: Put a piece of fired clay in a bucket of water and in a day or two you have mud. Enough said.

Do your chimineas last?
With proper use and maintenance our cast iron and cast aluminum chimineas will last for many years. We believe there are too many products on the market today that are designed for a throw-away society. Many times outdoor fireplaces look similar but are not the same material, weight or size.

Should I place something under my chiminea?
We recommend using patio block or a hearth pad to protect the surface of your deck or patio when using a chiminea. A chiminea does not direct much heat downward, but the occasional ember or ash will happen with any fire. Patio block has been the most reliable material. It comes in 18x18x1 cement blocks and is available at any local outdoor garden store. Patio block is available in different shapes colors and sizes so you can find something to fit your needs. Four 18x18x1 patio blocks make a three foot hearth pad that works great to protect your surface from an ember or stray ash. It also provides an area for extra firewood and hotdog/marshmallow sticks.

If you plan on moving your chiminea frequently, flexible hearth pads or grill mats are lightweight and easily movable. They are similar to fire proof doormats and are available at a local hearth store or home store.

Protect your chiminea and your deck or patio:

Are metal outdoor fireplaces dangerous?
There are some companies that claim that because of the heating qualities of metal, cast iron and aluminum chimineas could be dangerous. A material will heat to the temperature applied no matter if it is clay or metal. If there was an inherent danger then we would all have outdoor gas grills made of clay. As far as safety concerns, ask the guy in Jacksonville, Florida, who had the bottom fall out of his clay chiminea and burn down his house, which chiminea he would buy. We strongly recommend Cast Iron or Cast Aluminum chimineas to anyone.

What color chiminea is the best?
Most wood burning chiminea buyers stick with the charcoal color since the soot and ash buildup turns a colored chiminea charcoal. The effects of sun and weather will also wear down the factory paint over time and high temperature firings eventually darken colored chimineas. BBQ spray paint is a quick fix for regular maintenance of cast iron, steel and cast aluminum parts.

Our Blue Rooster chimineas all start with 3 layers of high temp charcoal (black) fireplace paint. The color finishes are then applied to create a patina finish. High temp spray paint is available at your local home store or hardware store in a variety of colors. High temp spray paint can be applied in just a few minutes and will keep your chiminea looking brand new.

Cast Aluminum chimineas require much less maintenance than Cast Iron. Cast Iron Chimineas need to be painted regularly to keep rust from forming. The inside will build up a protective coating from the natural products in the wood and does not need to be coated. Anyone purchasing a Cast Iron chiminea will need to paint it regularly to keep it in good condition.

Cast aluminum chiminea body's do not rust but they will occasionally need paint. The mouth screens on all chimineas are made of steel and will require paint first, use a charcoal barbeque paint on the mouth screen since it will be blackened by the fire soot already. When rust starts to form on the mouth screen of a colored chiminea, we find it is best to remove the entire mouth screen and paint with a high temp BBQ paint.

Charcoal chimineas match the high temp black BBQ paint and can be painted in place. A well maintained cast aluminum or cast iron chiminea will last for many years.

Do you make 360° open or multi-opening chimineas?
No. The reason is that 90% of the time there is some sort of wind movement outside and nobody likes to sit in the smoke. Also, a large gust of wind can blow ashes and sparks through a multi-opening chiminea and cause a lot of problems. 360° openings do not burn as efficiently causing a lot of smoke and smoldering. For safety concerns and efficient burning, single opening chimineas are preferred in any residential or recreational setting.

How do I spot a cheap chiminea?
Cheap or inferior products are normally listed without weights. There are a lot of 40-50 pound steel chimineas on the market. They won't last much longer then a clay chiminea, but the mass market handles them because of the huge markups. Also, look for tin rain caps that extend past the neck. They rust out right away and inflate the actual height. If you have any questions about an outdoor fireplace, fire pit, or chiminea, please give us a call.


10 Tips to Buying Outdoor Fireplaces

#1 All outdoor fireplaces are not the same.
Before purchasing an outdoor fireplace, chiminea, or fire pit, there are many factors to consider. Keep in mind that you are buying a "fire place" and the safety for your family, your property, and possibly your neighbors will depend on it.

#2 The design and size does matter.
There are 2 basic designs of outdoor fireplaces, Chimineas and Fire Pits. A chiminea can be defined as a fireplace that has a chimney to efficiently fuel fire with fresh air. A fire pit is a bowl or 360 degree open fireplace.

The drafting action of a well built chiminea draws fresh air into the fire and directs any smoke or fumes away from guests making them very efficient, clean burning fireplaces. Chimineas also enclose a fire, protecting people and property from sudden gusts of wind. Properly designed chimineas will have a bit of smoke at the beginning and end of your fire, much like a well designed "in house" fireplace will smoke very little or not at all during a fire.

Fire pits and 360 degree open fireplaces are pretty much a raised ring of rocks. Some fire pits have chimneys, but the 360 degree opening prohibits proper drafting. Without proper drafting fire pits often smolder and smoke due to inadequate airflow. Excess smoke from fire pits can linger making a fire uncomfortable for you and annoying to your neighbors. When comparing chimineas and other outdoor fireplaces, look closely at the fire box size before height. A smaller firebox will make wood buying or cutting more complicated. For a small fireplace wood will have to be cut special or ordered from a wood supplier in smaller pieces at a higher price. Some full size fireplaces handle regular fire logs (16"-18") used in home fireplaces.

The size of your chiminea does not determine the size of the fire. Just because a chiminea is large doesn't mean the fire has to be. If you want a smaller fire use less wood. Some people buy small chimineas because the deck area is small. The problem with small chimineas is that the chimney will not be above your head when sitting down. Look for a large firebox and stay away from tall thin outdoor fireplaces. A small burning firebox area will cost more in the long run.

#3 The amount of maintenance needs to be considered.
Chain store and mass marketed fireplaces made out of copper, sheet steel, or clay, don't provide the safety or longevity of cast iron or cast aluminum. Below is a material list of currently manufactured outdoor fireplaces. If we missed one you're considering for purchase, give us a call.

Clay chimineas can be babied;"Feed slowly, keep warm and dry." But if you want a fireplace that is going to be safer and last longer, any other material on the market is a better investment. See Tip #6 for safety concerns with clay chimineas.

Many home and garden outlets carry Sheet Metal outdoor fireplaces at a bargain cost. Cheap sheet metal fire pits are pretty much disposable items. Once they rust through their usefulness is gone. Be sure to check the gauge or thickness of the metal. Thin, mass marketed fireplaces may also melt if not thick enough. Enamel finishes disappear and exposed sheet metal will rust out quickly.

In some instances the fire bowl is cast iron but the neck or chimney is sheet steel. Eventually, you will be left with a cast iron fireplace body without a neck. Make sure the company carries replacement parts and find out the costs. If you will need to buy a new neck or other replacement parts frequently it's probably better to look elsewhere.

Cast Iron will rust if not maintained properly. The more cast iron you have to work with the longer it will last. Cast iron chimineas may also stain any surface on which it is standing if not maintained, so proper placement should be considered. If you decide to buy a cast iron chiminea make sure it is heavy and be prepared to maintain it.

Cast Iron may need a bit of maintenance but will last for years if looked after. Occasional painting with high temperature stove paint will halt rusting. Also, cast iron is extremely heavy and will withstand a lot of abuse. Cast iron chimineas are recommended for campground owners and places that they will be used without owners supervision. 200 pound chimineas tend not to "walk away." There are no advantages of cast iron over cast aluminum except for a heavy weight. Cast aluminum is the best choice for most home and cabin owners.

Copper looks great out of the box and is a very safe material used for years in cooking utensils. Watch out for cast iron supports or bases that can rust quickly and stain your patio. Also, don't expect that shiny new copper fireplace to look like that after a fire or two. Green and rusty is usually the norm after it's been used. If you don't mind the look of it, make sure it has a cover or rain lid and prepare to maintain the cast iron parts.

Some companies will drill holes in the bottom of the copper fire pits to let water (and ash) out when it rains. Fire pits without drains can fill with water and make a mess. If you do choose a copper fire pit or any fire pit for that matter, be sure it has a heavy waterproof cover. Water and wind can make a mess of your ashes and/or embers. If low maintenance and life span are priorities, Cast Aluminum is the best investment for your money. Aluminum chimineas are cast from the same molds as cast iron and look identical to cast iron. A Cast Aluminum outdoor fireplace will not warp and has a melting temp only a few hundred degrees lower then cast iron. Cast aluminum alloy will not rust and is much lighter so it can be easily moved. Like a gas grill, cast aluminum has very little maintenance. See tip #5 for more information on cast aluminum chimineas.

#4 Compare the weight of a fireplace to other manufacturers.
Be sure to check the weight. Many companies sell what is called a "Cast Iron" model that is made mostly of sheet steel. Cast Iron or Cast Aluminum is thick and heavy in a good chiminea. A chiminea labeled "Cast Iron" that is 67" Tall and 22" across and 76 pounds, is most likely made with a lot of sheet steel. Our Blue Rooster's Grape style Cast Iron Chiminea weighs 178 pounds and the Blue Rooster's™ Cast Iron Venetian Style chiminea is a whopping 197 lbs of solid cast iron. A cast aluminum version of the chiminea may weigh half as much as cast iron. But it is still a far superior material for making chimineas. If you're a typical outdoor fireplace user cast aluminum chiminea is the best investment.

#5 The benefits of a Cast Aluminum chiminea.
Compared to a cast iron, cast aluminum chimineas are very low maintenance and can be easily moved during a wind change or patio re-arrangement. A cast aluminum chiminea will not rust and stain your deck or patio. The aluminum chimineas are cast from the same molds as our cast iron chimineas, side by side they look and radiate heat identically.

Cast aluminum chimineas are light weight and designed with safety in mind. Cast Aluminum chimineas are easily transported to a lake home or a neighbors and can be easily stored in the winter time in Northern areas. Storage is only recommended to prevent damage or theft. Both Cast Iron and Cast Aluminum chimineas are designed for year-round use in any climate.

Cast Aluminum is the most dependable and longest lasting material used in outdoor fireplace design. Cast aluminum has consistently been the best product.

#6 Safety concerns with clay chimineas.
There are web sites that claim there is increased danger in using a metal chiminea versus a clay chiminea. From our experience you can get burned by a hot clay chiminea just as fast as a hot metal chiminea. If there was an inherent danger to using a metal outdoor fireplace, then all gas grills would be made of clay. If you are the type of person prone to sticking your fingers on hot items, maybe a garden fountain would be better for you than an outdoor fireplace.

The main problem with clay is that when it does fail, (fall apart) it can happen without warning. If the bottom falls out while you're having a fire, it can be a real mess. If you are using a clay fireplace on a wood deck or other surface that can be damaged, have it sitting on cement, tile, or other type of protective base.

If you do decide to buy a clay outdoor fireplace, make sure to take extra safety precautions. A close-fitting mouth screen and spark arrestor insert may be extra, but is well worth the investment. Clay chimineas are usually fairly cheap, but the money saved usually is spent on add-ons or a new chiminea when the old clay one fails. A good cast iron or cast aluminum fireplace will always last longer than clay.

No matter how good a clay fireplace is built, if you put a piece of a clay chiminea in a bucket of water, in a few days you will have mud. The bottom line is that clay chimineas are just large clay pots made of burnt dirt and clay pots should be used for flowers, not fire.

#7 360° Surround View Fireplaces and Raised Fire pits.
Surround 360° view fireplaces and fire pits are not chimineas. Most surround view outdoor fireplaces are built of very light materials that if tipped over will send fire, embers and ash everywhere. For safety reasons traditional chimineas are built with only one opening. Even if a traditional chiminea gets knocked over, the ash and embers will be contained. Since the majority of weight is in the bottom of a traditional chiminea, it is very hard to tip over.

If you are concerned that the people behind a chiminea will not see the fire, visualize a campfire with a small breeze, no one wants to sit in the smoke anyway. Anyone who has had a chance to use both a fire pit and a chiminea will choose the chiminea for its excellent drafting qualities. By using patio block or other materials to build a proper hearth pad, chimineas can be used safely on wood decks and other locations where an open burning fire pit may cause damage.

Chimineas were originally designed as cooking devices and are used legally throughout the United States and other countries as such. Using a fire pit or surround fireplace is like building a ring of rocks and is not legal in many areas.

Anyone who has experienced an outdoor fire pit knows that a gust of wind will blow embers and sparks around that can damage your deck or other property and possibly that of your neighbors. A good chiminea will protect the fire and draft smoke out the top for a safer and more pleasurable experience. If you're not comfortable building a ring of rocks on your deck or patio, an efficient burning chiminea design is the better choice.

#8 What to burn in an outdoor fireplace.
Although wood may be a bit more work then lighting a propane insert, the aroma of a campfire and the cooking benefits make wood the number one fuel source. If you use wood in your fireplace, a fatwood stick is a quick way to get a fire going. Once the neck is heated the draft will start a fire quickly. A good hardwood such as oak creates the best fire. You can ask your local lumber yard or look in the yellow pages for a good wood supplier in your area.

Hard woods are the primary fuel for outdoor fireplace enthusiasts. Other sources are manufactured fire logs, propane, natural gas and gel inserts. Pinion wood, pronounced "pin-yon", is commonly recommended by chiminea owners for its pleasant "pine aroma." It also helps to repel mosquitoes and other flying insects. In the Southwest, piñon is a common fireplace and stove wood. It keeps an active flame, produces good heat, and burns well with other woods.

You can also add pine cones, apple wood, or other exotics if you would like a more aromatic experience. Manufactured fire logs are a quick way to get a fire going but make terrible marshmallows (toxic s'mores anyone?). The chimineas are rated for manufactured fire logs.

Gel inserts are also available in insert kits. They are operated by lighting a canned burning insert like the ones under serving trays, but much larger. Some are even marketed for indoor use, check with the manufacturer before using any indoor fire source.

Outdoor fireplaces with propane or natural gas inserts provide a trouble-free fire source. You can convert most of our chimineas to natural gas or propane. If you are ordering a chiminea for natural gas or propane conversion we might be able to make modifications needed and supply a gas fire log kit with natural looking ceramic logs to go along with your new outdoor fireplace.

#9 Safety First
When using any outdoor fireplace make sure safety is your #1 priority. Have a fire extinguisher, a bucket of water or other water source available. Never leave a fire unattended and know how to use your fire safety equipment.

Don't sacrifice safety in order to save a few dollars on a bargain rate fire extinguisher or a cheap outdoor fireplace. Remember you are dealing with fire. Anytime a fire is lit there is a potential to cause damage to yourself, friends, family, your property or your neighbors. When starting any controlled fire, safety is the number one concern.

#10 Enjoy
An outdoor fireplace will add to your enjoyment. At the end of the day a toasty fire and a good glass of wine will do wonders for your state of mind. Sharing stories around the fire has brought families and friends together for millennia.

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