Things you can burn in your chiminea

Read on to find out more about starting a fire in your chiminea.
Read on to find out more about starting a fire in your chiminea.

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.

A roaring chiminea
A roaring chiminea

Other types of fuel

Gas inserts

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. 

Alcohol Gel

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.

Natural Ocote firelighter from the slopes of the mountains in Central America
Natural Ocote firelighter from the slopes of the mountains in Central America

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.

Comments 16 comments

LewisD profile image

LewisD 6 years ago

Like it! Very useful reference for newbie chiminea owners.

Johnny Boy 6 years ago

Nice piece. Helps me get my head around the whole chiminea thing.

Tomono profile image

Tomono 6 years ago Author

Thanks for the comments. Let me know if you'd like any other related articles too.

Phil Rees 6 years ago

Interesting. I thought you where resticted in your choice of fuel.

Tomono profile image

Tomono 6 years ago Author

You can burn lots of things in a chiminea. Think I might go light mine now with a little Ocote.

relica profile image

relica 6 years ago from California

Love your hub. I have been wanting to incorporate a chiminea into my back patio design. Great information!

Tomono profile image

Tomono 6 years ago Author

Thanks Relica. It's so nice to get some comments on my hubs!

Lee 6 years ago

Good articles, thank you so much.

Chris 6 years ago

Good Stuff!

Tomono profile image

Tomono 6 years ago Author

Glad you like it everyone. I will try to add more soon.

pie person 5 years ago

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

rosleen 5 years ago

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

havoc2699 16 months ago

Thanks for the info, looking forward to the summer nights entertaining guests with our new Chiminea. Great post too.

ufk profile image

ufk 14 months ago from Maidstone England

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

Nanny Bling 5 months ago

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.

sheila 4 months ago

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.

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