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Originally from Mexico, the rustic chiminea has finally made its way to popularity here in the United States. The original chimineas were used to bake bread, but today’s designs make a unique outdoor focal point in the form of a fireplace.

Most chimineas are made from clay or metal, though the original chiminea was always made from clay. The chimney, or stack, is formed separately from the base, then fitted together before firing. They range in size from tabletop designs to giant-sized options, and work best when burning wood. Charcoal can also be used, but you should never use lighting fluid, gasoline or alcohol inside your chiminea. This could result is an explosion, so if you do plan to use charcoal, select a self-lighting brand or first burn some wood inside to form hot coals. Before you add your fuel of choice, pour a 3-inch layer of sand inside the base. This will protect the clay from cracking due to the heat from the coals.

Chimineas, especially clay styles, are fragile and should only be moved when necessary. They are also extremely heavy, so use a hand truck or a friend, and be sure to follow proper lifting procedures to avoid hurting your back. When you do lift it, place one hand inside the firebox and the other around the low end of the stack. Be gentle, since the spot where the stack and base are joined is weak.

Some chimineas may come sealed, but if yours doesn’t be sure to apply a wood sealer or acrylic floor finish before you use it for the first time. This will keep any moisture from seeping into the clay, plus it extends the life of any finish. If you use it regularly, be sure to reseal it at least once a month. It’s also a wise idea to purchase a chiminea cover to protect it from the elements and pests.

If a chiminea is destined to grace your backyard porch or deck, check out our wide selection of metal and clay styles here on Houzz. From small to large, basic to ornate, we’re sure to have the perfect chiminea for your backyard.