What to burn in a chiminea?
Have you ever wondered what to burn in a chiminea?
Chimineas were designed primarily as wood-burning stoves and in order to produce the best heat with the least amount of sparks you should burn hardwoods.
However, if they have designed your chiminea for cooking, consider charcoal as it will deliver a more uniform long-lasting heat.
What not to burn in a chiminea?
One thing’s for certain, no type of accelerant should be used when starting a fire in your chiminea but there are a number of other things that we’d suggest you avoid burning.
The list below explains what not to burn in a chiminea and more importantly, Why?
Any lumber that has been specifically designed for outdoor construction is often chemically preserved and pressure treated to ensure it lasts. This wood should never be burnt as it can produce toxic chemicals. This is especially true with things like sleepers which were painted with creosote or tar. The older the woods the larger the danger and some might even contain arsenic.
Any type of rubbish such as rubbish bags, plastic, paper, or rubber should definitely be avoided. This is because they will instantly release pollutants and other toxins into the air and causing extremely unpleasant smells.
Cardboard or Paper
As much fun as it is watching some cardboard or paper burn in the flames in your chiminea, they have a tendency to create smoldering ash. This can sometimes develop in large flakes creating potential fire hazards for neighboring houses, trees, and bushes.
If you’re collecting wood to burn in your chimenea, be exceptionally careful of anything that’s wrapped in ivy. Especially if you’re collecting in the winter as the vines still contain poisonous oils that can be released in vapor form when burnt.
Avoid burning these items too
You should avoid burning soft or green woods, garden clippings or food scraps they’re not dangerous to burn but they could cause potential issues with your chiminea.
Difference between fuel for clay and cast iron chimineas
They design cast iron chimineas to withstand far greater heat than clay chimineas, because of this they can burn large quantities of wood or even coal and charcoal comfortably. However, although they are designed to burn hotter we would always recommend you use a decent quality, dried wood in your chiminea. This will ensure the longevity of your device meaning it will be usable for years to come.
When burning anything you need to be careful about building a large fire as this can increase the probability of you damaging your chiminea. When burning in a cast iron chiminea, the outside can get far hotter than a clay one, so by reducing the amount you burn you can adjust the heat to your liking.
Best wood to burn in a chiminea
Before we jump straight into a list of the best wood to burn in a chiminea let’s first cover the most popular question, Why burn seasoned Wood?
Experts tell you that the secret to lighting a good fire is how long the wood has been seasoned. For example, oak is still one of the most popular woods burned in chimineas but this would need to be seasoned for at least 2 years to get the greatest benefit out of it. Despite this, when you’re purchasing oak today the vast majority of it on sale is still very green and you will need to season it for at least a year after purchase.
Seasoned wood burns by the highest heat and for longer than greenwood because of this it produces more heat for longer. Greener wood is far more difficult to light and keep burning for a prolonged period. Because unseasoned wood has a high moisture content, it has a tendency to burn poorly and smolder, creating little or no heat
So the question remains, how do you know if wood is seasoned or not. The first thing you look for is the colour on the outside season. Wood will be dusty and grey and have been sitting around for a while. On the inside, it should be lighter, sometimes even white. New unseasoned greenwood will look like it came directly from a timber yard and the colour will be uniform throughout the wood. If you have difficulty sourcing high quality seasoned wood burn ash instead, as this is the best greenwood you can use in a chiminea
Burning softwood versus hardwood
No serious chimenea operator would ever consider burning softwoods instead they will use cherry, apple, walnut, hickory, ash or oak. Hardwoods are denser and as a result, burn for longer and produce far more heat than softwoods. The only negative is the time it takes to season. Don’t be put off by the difference in cost between a softwood like pine or hardwood like oak, the fact that they burn for longer means you will always use less wood.
Twelve Best Woods to Burn:
1) Birch creates an adequate level of heat, smells nice, but can sometimes burn quickly. It should never be burnt if it’s green as it can produce sap which will leave deposits that stick to the inside of your chiminea.
2) Cherry burns slowly and smells great, making it a very popular option for burning in your chiminea, especially during the winter months.
3) Apple is a superb choice as it burns really slowly when seasoned, releases a fragrant scent and is also a great option for cooking over.
4) Walnut burns produces a lot of heat and burns for a long time. It is very much like other hardwoods producing a very limited amount of smoke and is popular for use in chimeneas as a consequence.
5) Maple may be more difficult to source, but it’s an excellent hardwood for burning in chimineas.
6) Oak will always remain the most popular hardwood to burn in a chiminea as it produces a steady slow heat and oak also burns for a long time meaning that you have to use less fuel.
7) Ash is popular because it creates a steady heat and you can even burn it when the wood is a little green.
8) Blackthorn is a particularly popular hardwood because it’s not very smoky and it creates a lot of heat.
9) Yew is a very pleasant burning wood and produces plenty of heat.
10) If you’re stuck and you cannot get your hands on proper chunks of hardwood, then try some of the types of eco fuel on offer. The benefit of eco logs is that you can order relatively small amounts, unlike hardwood suppliers. You can easily order in a small number of eco logs just before your next burn.
11) Sycamore will reward you with an excellent level of heat and a nice flame as long as you season it well in advance.
12) Hawthorne also burns slowly and is great for making hot wintry fires.
When choosing what to burn in a chiminea you should take into account the type of Chiminea you have. If you have any doubts follow the guide listed above. If you’re wondering how hot chimineas get, don’t forget to check out our related article How Hot Does a Chiminea Get?