Clay chimineas make a great addition to nearly any backyard patio, especially if you’re looking for a bit of southwestern flair to spice up your decor. Their design originates from traditional Spanish and Mexican influences where they were used for cooking, heating and light. Due to their historical nature, replicas are constructed from the same Terracotta clay as the originals, making them the perfect canvas for an abundance of unique designs and colors for all tastes. Whether you’re interested in them because of their unique look or the beautiful dancing flames on chilly evenings it’s hard to go wrong with a traditional clay chiminea.
Why Choose a Clay Chiminea?
Aside from the sheer elegance of traditional clay chimineas, there are many factors making them superior to their modern day aluminum and cast iron counterparts.
One of the first and most important advantages to consider are the significant cost savings you get by purchasing a clay chiminea when compared to a similar sized metal chiminea. In most cases you can expect to save 30%-50% if you choose the clay option. This is mainly due to low material costs associated with Terracotta and simple single-piece fabrication techniques.
Clay chimineas also have a significant advantage when it comes to heat retention and safety. Clay in general is a great insulator and thus prevent the body of the chiminea from getting extremely hot. Most of the heat is directed either outward or up the chimney providing excellent air flow, warming capabilities and less risk of an accidental burn. Don’t try touching a cast iron chiminea in use and expect to be a happy camper.
Another great reason to choose a traditional clay chiminea is they don’t require assembly. They are made as a single piece and are ready to go as soon as they are in place. This single-piece construction, combined with the lightweight clay makes them much easier to move than similar aluminum and cast iron units
Finally, and for some people most importantly, clay chimineas are just as safe on wooden decks as they are on concrete slabs. The clay insulates the bottom of the fire bowl and prevent the wood from bursting into flames. Not to mention they produce no stains on surfaces beneath the bowl and have very few metal components that could potentially rust.
With that being said, let’s take a look at our top picks for the best clay chimineas.
This beautiful hand made fire clay chiminea is the perfect complement to any outdoor space. With a stunning glazed ivory exterior and a refined shape it is sure to be a great conversation piece and provide warmth on even the coldest of nights. One of the great things about clay chimineas is how each one is an individual and unique piece of art and no two are alike, giving you that sense of rustic flair and hand made quality. Not to mention the countless evenings of entertainment you’ll have with the whole family toasting s’mores, reading by the firelight or simply staring into the mesmerizing flames with a nice glass of wine.
Made from a single piece of unique fire clay this chiminea requires no assembly as is shipped ready to use, simply set it on the base and your done. Weighing in at only 60 lbs., it is easy to maneuver into the right location and won’t take but a few minutes to walk to your backyard. The terracotta clay used has been specially treated to be resistant to fire cracking, meaning less repairs on your part and a long lasting, quality chiminea that is built to last. Measuring in at 17” wide and 43” tall, the Gardeco AFC-C21.70 Ivory Chiminea is a great size for medium and large sized spaces. The item ships with both a metal stand and a matching clay lid to ensure you’ll have everything you need to enjoy this great piece of latin culture.
If you’re looking for a slightly smaller clay chiminea that still looks and performs incredibly, Redi-Flame offers a detailed handmade option with some great free goodies to go with it. Standing only 14” tall and 6” wide, this hand fired clay chiminea kit is perfect for smaller spaces such as gardens, apartment balconies and even indoors if you use it with a candle. We found it looked equally as great perched on a table or alcove as well. Individually made from all natural clay and colored with earthy browns and burnt oranges, the Redi-Flame Chiminea looks incredible and easily stands out from the crowd.
What really differentiates this product from the rest of the market are the free extras that come along with it. Included you’ll find two all natural insect repellent logs made from cellulosic fiber (mashed up plants) and wax along with a 3 pack of fire starters. When lit, the logs provide a natural light smoke that drive away even the most incessant mosquitoes even in damp conditions. We found it best to cut the logs into smaller pieces so we could use them in short bursts whenever the smoke began to fade. During our evenings using the Redi-Flame Kit we were pleasantly surprised as just how effective the repellant really was. The fire starters were also great for igniting the insect repellant logs and stayed lit for a substantial amount of time and provided more than enough flames. Overall this is a great small form factor clay chiminea that performs excellent and is built to last.
This absolutely incredibly piece of functional art is top on our list when it comes to design and style points. With a rustic brown finish, iron clad accents and a beautiful southwestern inspired silhouette, the Fire Up Designs Chiminea would make a great addition to virtually any backyard or patio. Compared to the other two clay chimineas in this article this is by far the biggest with a massive 20” wide body and standing at 43” inches tall. Not to mention is has incredibly thick traditional Mexican clay walls and an extremely detailed finish making it vastly superior in terms of both durability and heat insulation than the others. You can expect this chiminea to last for decades in even the worst outdoor environments.
However, with the higher quality, you’ll be paying a higher price. Coming in at about three times more than the other options, this is the most expensive of all the items we reviewed. If you’re in the range for an upper end clay chiminea that makes a statement, this is the one to get. As the saying goes, if it’s heavy it’s probably expensive and that holds true for this unit especially. The base chiminea weighs 93 pounds and will requires a bit of rolling to position it accordingly. Because of the weight though you won’t have to worry about it blowing over in the wind or being knocked down by a running dog, both plusses in our book.
Not a Fan of Clay Chimineas afterall? Check out a Fire Pit Instead
If you think a clay chiminea might not be for you, but your still interested in a bit of fiery ambiance in your backyard, check out some of the best fire pits for a bit of a different look and feel.