11 best chimineas to take the chill out of alfresco evenings

Get fired up with this summer with one of these heaters

Jon Axworthy
Thursday 18 June 2020 16:30
Whether it's cast iron, clay or metal, these are the ones to choose
Whether it's cast iron, clay or metal, these are the ones to choose

Among the many benefits of summer is being able to stay outside and keep enjoying yourself once the sun has long gone and you can prolong your fun with the addition of a chiminea – those eye-catching, fire-catchers that provide a comforting and cosy hub around which you can while away your evening.

The classic, clay Mexican chiminea has now been joined by a host of other interesting metal models, all of which will make your garden retreat look all the more inviting.

However, they aren’t just ornamental, a good chiminea should make it easy to start a fire and easy to keep it going so that you can really feel the benefits of your fuel source.

It might also be worth considering how portable the product is as it’s useful to be able to move it to different areas in your outdoor space, depending on where you’ve decided to settle down for the evening.

The chimineas that stood out were those that allowed for some summer stargazing without us donning more layers than an arctic explorer.

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La Hacienda contemporary steel chiminea

We really liked the expansive opening on this steel model, which meant that we could feed our fire with three or four sizeable logs and then sit back and enjoy the heat without having to worry about it going out. The model burned very efficiently and is nicely designed so that even on windier evenings we weren’t covered in ash or enveloped in smoke. Easy cleaning added to the attraction of the chiminea.

Jotul froya outdoor modern chiminea

If you’re looking to create a defined gathering space outside, then this modern model will make a great focal piece around which guests can gather. The wide grate made the fire very easy to set and light and we had it roaring in no time. Made of corten steel, which adds to the product’s looks, it won’t need to be stored away and will withstand the winter with the corten just naturally oxidising so it will just look better with age.

Blumfeldt Volantis garden oven wood stove

The generous fire chamber meant that starting and managing the fire wasn’t an issue and the steel volantis produced a good tall flame thanks to a very efficient chimney. The 360-degree mesh around the firebox means that everyone can enjoy the flames and the fact that it’s raised on three legs means that you don’t have to worry about leaving any scorch marks on lawns and patios. The volantis threw out lots of heat, and the mesh means you won’t have to worry about little fingers getting too close to the flames.

Gardeco gota Mexican art clay chimenea

Original Mexican chimineas were hand forged from clay and this authentic tear drop version has got bags of charm and really looks the part. The large opening made it easy to lay the fire (and easy to clean out the ashes the next morning) and was very efficient burner with the clay walls retaining and radiating heat so there was a constant output.

Garden Leisure kilya two piece clay chiminea with grill

This versatile chiminea splits into two and has an inset grill so that you can enjoy the heat first and then once the flames have died down you can remove the top half, with some heat retardant gloves, and cook up a storm over the white coals. Once everyone has had their fill, you can replace the lid again and either feed and stoke up the fire or just enjoy the stored heat from the clay walls. Due to high demand, this is currently out of stock, so keep an eye out for when it’s back.

Gardeco asteria AFC extra-large chimena

One of the occasional gripes with clay chimineas are that they can limit how big your fire is – too much intense heat can lead to cracking in the clay over time. This attractive glazed model is made from a fire-resistant clay that means you can really stoke up the fire without having to worry that your chiminea will end up in pieces. The large opening and efficient flue means that there’s plenty of heat thrown out and the roaring flames make for a good centrepiece.

La Hacienda malmo chimenea

The small footprint of this very efficient modern chiminea makes it a good option for smaller urban patios or balconies. The malmo has a rectangular opening that is perfectly suited for a few small logs to burn steadily and return the warmth to the outside. Another cut out underneath is a great log store, so you’re never far from your next log.

Gardeco toledo cast iron chiminea

This ornate cast iron burner is really well thought out to make entertaining easy. Firstly, there is the large opening that takes the hassle out of making and maintaining your fire, then there’s the innovative cast iron BBQ grill that swivels in and out of the flames so you can cook and check your sausages and steaks with ease. Added to this is a hinged mesh door so that you can close off the fire for safety and a generous amount of heat generation and you’ve got a real all-rounder. Currently out of stock, but sign up for email alerts to get yours first.

Morso kamino chiminea outdoor heater

Made from cast iron and easy to assemble this is another talking point chiminea that is going to stand out no matter where you place it. However, it’s not at all style over substance, as the tall, elongated flue and roomy firebox combine to make starting and prolonging the fire very simple. So, the heat we got from the chiminea was impressive and made sitting outside long after sunset very comfortable.

Garden Trading sarsden chiminea

This black metal model is very straightforward to assemble, and its spacious design makes it easy to load with wood and kindling to get the burn going. The design also allows good air circulation to feed the flames, while a galvanised grill allows ash to drop away and not clog the fire bed.

Jotul terrazza outdoor modern chiminea

Is this a chiminea? Well it’s self-standing, has got a large fire opening and a flue so it definitely qualifies. It’s certainly removed from the classic examples in the list because Norwegian design and practicality have combined to offer a large fire opening and because it’s on a right angle there’s plenty of room to get in larger logs. This means that you can keep the fire going without having to constantly feed it. It arrives as a flat pack but there are only nine steps to the self-assembly and the corten steel plates corrode to form a protective effect on the metal that will only add to the look. It produced a hot, clean flame and threw out light and heat in equal measure, which outlasted even the dirty stop outs in the group.

The verdict: Chimineas

The whole point of a chiminea is that it should allow you to keep the party going outside from late summer through the autumn and all of these models did a bang up job of this, but the La Hacienda contemporary steel chiminea stood out because it offered excellent heat output with minimal management.

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