Chimineas have become extremely popular with more people wanting to enjoy the ambiance and warmth created on their patios but although they can be a wonderful source of heat just how hot does a chiminea get?
In some tests carried out on a clay chiminea, it was found to radiate heat of 36 degrees Celsius at a range of 2 metres. A cast iron chiminea can get even hotter.
Chimineas are designed traditionally with a rounded base for fuel and a distinctive chimney for the smoke to escape. The design is efficient at producing heat and will effectively keep warm whoever is sitting close by within a metre or two.
Chimineas are made from different materials which will have an impact on how hot they get.
How Hot Does a Chiminea Get?
How hot a chiminea will get depends upon the following factors:
- Material the chiminea is made from – clay or cast iron
- Chiminea size
- How closely you sit to the chiminea
- The temperature and weather
- The type of fuel used
Are Steel, Clay or Cast Iron Chimineas Hotter?
Steel and Cast Iron chimineas get hotter than clay chimineas. Clay chimineas crack when exposed to high heat and for that reason, they can only be used with wood fuel. They still reach high temperatures when burning but you must take care not to build too big a fire as that can cause cracking in the clay.
Many Cast Iron chimineas and steel chimineas can be used with wood, charcoal, or smokeless coal and they can withstand most temperatures. Charcoal and coal can get very hot which is great for warming a larger area or keeping more people warm, as well as being able to cook very efficiently on a grill however this can make them more dangerous due to them getting extremely hot.
Fortunately, modern clay chimineas can be made from heat resistant clay that will withstand more heat and can be used to warm more people but you must never overload a clay chiminea.
Look out for labelling to ensure you are buying a more heat-resistant clay chiminea or opt for a cast iron or steel one if heat is important. However, we’d always recommend you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the best fuel source to use.
Whatever material you choose it is important to remember that a chiminea will be very hot to touch. This is particularly important if you have children. As cast iron chimineas are able to produce more heat they will be extremely dangerous to touch.
How Does Size Impact Chiminea Heat?
Larger chimineas have a bigger space for fuel at the base and will be able to reach a higher temperature.
Particularly if you want to use charcoal this will mean you can use a large cast iron chiminea to heat a bigger area as the heat emitted will be greater.
A larger chiminea will generate more heat but it will cost more to buy than a smaller version. One of the best large cast-iron chimineas for heat is the Monterrey by La Hacienda.
How Close Should You Sit to a Chiminea?
To feel the heat, you will need to sit between two to four metres away from a chiminea.
A small chiminea may only give out heat to a range of one metre. It has been estimated that a chiminea has only 1/3 of the output of a fireplace but its unique design distributes its heat in every direction.
The round design of a chiminea means that the large bowl part will produce a 360-degree radius of heat so people can sit all around the chiminea and still feel the warmth. The chimney effect of a chiminea takes the heat upwards and out into the air creating an even greater circle of heat.
Can a Chiminea Heat up in Cold Weather?
Both clay and cast iron chimineas are ideal for keeping you warm on a chilly summer’s evening but how hot does a chiminea get on a cold frosty night?
The best chiminea for keeping you warm in winter is one made from cast iron. They are completely frost-proof and do not need to be stored inside to prevent them from getting damaged.
Clay chimineas need to be covered or put away before the winter to ensure they don’t crack.
You will need a big cast iron chiminea to keep you warm when it gets really cold, and you may need to sit a little closer to feel the heat. Take care to turn the chiminea away from any wind as the wind causes the fuel to smoke rather than burn.
What Fuel is Good for Chiminea Heat?
The most common fuel used in a chiminea is wood or charcoal but smokeless fuel can also be used. It is important to choose a fuel that is safe for the type of chiminea you are using.
Clay chimineas should only be used with wood as they are prone to cracking at the higher heats created by charcoal.
Wood is a very popular option to be used with all chimineas. It is important to understand that wood produces smoke which can be harmful to the environment. It is always best to choose some wood that has been dried so it produces less smoke, and will burn hotter and for longer.
Avoid using damp wood in a chiminea as it will contain much more moisture. Burning wet fuel will make the fire burn through the moisture before it produces heat, and this will create far more smoke and be less efficient at producing chiminea heat. Dried wood is best for sufficient chiminea heat.
Charcoal can be used in a cast iron chiminea, or one made from stainless steel. It must not be used in a clay chiminea. Charcoal used in a chiminea produces a contained fire that will get very hot and can be used easily for cooking as well as keeping everyone warm.
Charcoal briquettes are the easiest way to get a chiminea going and are even sold at most supermarkets. Some are self-lighting and can be lit simply with a match or lighter. The advantage is that they will burn easily and get hot much quicker without any effort.
If you really want to produce some heat then smokeless coal will not only burn for longer but is also generally hotter. Just remember that you cannot use it in clay chimineas.
To find our about the best fuel for a chiminea check out our article What to Burn in a Chiminea?.