Gardening magazines and especially television shows seem deeply enamored with firepits these days, which has
got me thinking about my long-forgotten chimnea – bought about 10 years ago and used exactly twice. Here it is and sure, it’s good-looking but what I soon learned is that only about a half-person can actually be warmed by the thing – the front half of the person who’s sitting directly in front of the opening. Most of the heat escapes through the opening at the top.
I also agree with what Elizabeth wrote, that these garden fires make no sense in the winter, are too hot to use in the summer, and they’re often outlawed, anyway, at least where she lives, and for good reason. They’re not just fire hazards but also serious health hazards. (Michelle Derviss has lots to say about that.) And one website about firepits even warns: "If you don’t want smoke in your eyes, don’t buy a firepit."
I did a little post-purchase research about my lovely clay chimnea here and learned that it can fall apart suddenly (!) and that it’s not really suitable for wooden decks. And there’s more. You’re supposed to insulate the inside because there should NOT be fire next to the clay (news to me!) It won’t take full-size logs, and there are problems with all sorts of wood types as fuel. Pinion is the best wood to burn in them, or alligator juniper, to both of which I say: Huh? And they need to be sealed and – again, who knew? – stored indoors if winters drop below freezing. At least it was cheap – about $150 bought locally.
Then one helpful website, after listing all sorts of warnings, provides some alternative uses for them:
Other Chiminea uses
Although Chimineas are primarily designed for small, outdoor fires many
people are using them as decorative accent pieces in their homes or
We have seen chimineas used for everything from a towel holder to
housing for pets. Homeowners who are going for a southwest theme have
been purchasing chimineas as oversized planters and candle holders. A
large Chiminea in the corner with a big, three-wicked candle makes for
a great conversation piece. This may seem kind of bizarre to some
people however Architectural Digest one of the leading journals for
designers and decorators featured a large Chiminea indoors.
In The Garden
We have seen some incredible uses of Chimineas in the Garden.
Sunflowers popping out of the top. Vines poring out of the mouth. A
fallen Chiminea filled with topsoil and a variety of flowering plants.
Broken Chimineas are becoming a big seller. They add a unique twist to
the boring old clay pots.
Towel holder? Housing for pets? Maybe not, but I’m LOVING the vision of this thing sitting in one of my garden beds with maybe some sweet potato vine trailing out of its mouth.
So, what would YOU do with this thing?