Things you can burn 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.
Other types of fuel
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.
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.
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.