Are you looking for an outdoor fire feature to include in your backyard? Chimineas and fire pits are two common choices. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks, and the option you choose depends on the factors that are most important to you. Fire pit vs Chiminea.
Learn the major differences between chimineas and fire pits, and where each option is most suitable for use.
What is a Chiminea?
Chiminea (also called chimenea) comes from the Spanish word meaning chimney. They are designed as free-standing oven-like structures with a round-bottom structure (like a pot) and an opening on the front. You use the opening to load fuel and also receive the warmth from the chiminea. A vertical stack of varying length is on the top to direct the smoke upward
Typically, chimineas burn firewood, although you should never use pressurized wood in a chiminea. You can also burn coal or ethanol depending on the structure of the one you have (check your instruction manual).
What Is a Fire Pit?
A fire pit is a little easier to explain and comes in two variations. A pit may be dug in the ground or a large bowl or free-standing container may be the fire “pit”. If in the ground, non-combustible material surrounds the pit to prevent the fire from spreading. Fire pits are either circular or shaped like a square.
You can actually make your own fire pit from materials you already have at home. Just be sure to include adequate safety mechanisms to keep the fire contained within the pit.
So, what are the major differences between fire pits and chimineas? We list them below by factors under consideration.
Factors to Consider when Deciding Between a Fire Pit and a Chiminea
Chimineas are generally more expensive than fire pits because their design is fairly elaborate. The typical price ranges between $150 and $600, depending on its material (cast aluminum, clay, iron, etc.).
Fire pits are more affordable, and they come in different shapes and sizes. You can easily get a fire pit for just $70-$150, although there are higher-priced brands that cost a few hundred dollars. And of course, you can make your own fire pit from materials you already have.
Chimineas get hot as they burn, and take longer to cool after the fire goes out, especially clay chimineas. They are not open on all sides, meaning those on the other side may not know it is burning and might get hurt. Being a tall, free-standing contraption, they may tip over. You should be careful with pets or young children.
Fire pits are open-flame fires, which creates different safety risks. Get a fire screen if you’re worried about scattering ash. If the pit is raised, ensure that there aren’t any tripping hazards around it. Smoke and ash blowing out of the fire pit as you sit around can be irritating.
Chimineas have a warm, inviting appeal, depending on the exact style and design. Since the fire is more contained with chimineas, people will sit closer around it. Fire pits are more rustic, and the accessibility from all angles offers a distinct advantage for large groups of people.
Ease of Use
Chimineas are easy to use, but clay chimineas need some preparation before lighting your first fire in them. You should place sand or gravel at the bottom and have a layer of clay bricks where you’ll place your fire. After that, provided there are no chips or cracks, you simply need to light up your fire and get warming.
Fire pits are even easier to use – just make sure you have the right kindling material, and you’re good to go. The fire pit is usually surrounded with non-combustible material to keep the open fire contained.
To burn hotter and cleaner, you’ll need to empty the chiminea regularly, and it can be hard, depending on how big and deep the chiminea belly is. You can use a leaf blower to blow the ash up through its chimney, but this will make a huge mess unless your chiminea connects to a chimney.
Scooping ashes from a fire pit is way easier because it’s an open and shallow pit. If the fire pit is freestanding, you can simply pick it up and dump out the ashes.
Chimineas are usually heavy so they will stay in place all year round – you’ll need a cover to protect it from the elements if you have it outdoors. However, chimineas can be placed inside the house, where the more controlled burning provides warmth without the risks of an open flame like the fire pit.
Freestanding fire pits are often portable, so you can store them in a garage or shed easily. If you need to be able to move it around, the fire pit is a better option for you. If you have your fire pit built in the ground, find ways to cover it when the pit is not in use.
There is no option that is better than the other between the chiminea and the fire pit – it all depends on what you need the heating for. The greatest advantage of chiminea’s lies in the fact that they can also be used indoors when you don’t have a fireplace. And the greatest advantage of fire pits is their suitability for larger gatherings.