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Chimineas were created in the 1600s in Mexico.
Made of clay, copper, steel, cast iron, or cast aluminum, they traditionally have a large round base, a metal stand, a tall chimney, and a large opening in the front to add wood.
New shapes are available, but all the shapes are designed to control air flow and aid in the most efficient fire and heat production.
Their key function is to produce heat to warm an outdoor area.
However, using them to cook, especially for baking bread quickly became a secondary use.
Including a chiminea among your outdoor furnishings has multiple benefits.
First, unlike a grill, they are decorative even when they aren’t in use.
They also provide heat, light, and are enjoyable and relaxing to watch.
In addition, they provide multiple outdoor cooking options and add a wood smoke taste to your food.
To be able to enjoy your chiminea for an extended period, you need to follow certain guidelines, and one of these is to remove the lid when you are using your chiminea.
Why use a lid for a chiminea?
The lid covers the chimney opening keeping rain, leaves, and other debris out of the chiminea.
If rain gets into a clay chiminea, it can cause the chiminea to crack. If rain gets into a metal chiminea, it can cause it to rust.
In addition, when you keep debris out of the chiminea, it will save you from having to clean the chiminea out when you want to use it.
The alternate choice to a lid is the cloth cover that is used in the winter.
Unlike a lid, the cloth cover hides the decorative element of chimineas.
Chiminea lid on or off?
Lighting the Chiminea
The lid definitely has to be off when you are lighting a fire in a chiminea because the lid will stop air from reaching the fire you are trying to start.
Without the air flow, your fledgling fire will suffocate.
If the lid is covering the chimney while a fire is lit inside the chiminea, the heat and smoke will exit through the front opening toward you and your guests.
The chiminea also won’t work properly and could dangerously cause the fire to flare out the front opening or cause the chiminea to overheat and be damaged.
In addition, as mentioned, chimineas are designed to pull air in the front and draw the air and the smoke up the chimney.
If the lid is covering the chimney, the chiminea can’t work the way it is intended, and that can affect how the fire burns.
Cooking with the lid off
Using the lid to cover the chimney after the chiminea has cooled keeps rain and debris out of the chiminea. Leaving the lid off while you are using it allows the chiminea to work properly.
With the lid off, you gain an additional cooking option.
With a chiminea, you can insert a grill and cook food on the grill.
You can wrap foods in foil such as vegetables and bury them in the wood or charcoal.
However, the chimney gives you that one more cooking option. You can place a grill over the chimney and cook foods such as soup in pans over the chimney as long as there is room for the smoke to exit.
In addition, meat, fish, and tofu can be placed directly on the grill and cooked over the chimney.
Skewers can also be laid across the chimney.
If you use the lid while cooking and the fire is not burning the way it is intended, then the food may not cook the way it is intended and could take longer to cook.
Safety considerations with chiminea lids
Leaving the lid on while using a chiminea is a safety issue.
So, for safety, take the lid off because using the lid interferes with the proper operation of a chiminea affecting the way the fire burns and the way the food cooks.
The lid also can cause heat, smoke and even fire to billow out through the front opening.
This safety precaution should be observed as well as these other safety considerations when using a chiminea.
- The wood used by chimineas, rather than the propane used by grills, is more eco-frindly and safer.
- Use long-handled tools with chimineas.
- Place a layer of sand in the base of the chiminea and build your fire on top of the sand.
- Use fine-mesh screened hatches, chimney spark-inhibitor caps, and doors to protect children, pets, and surrounding areas from sparks and coals.
- While the thick walls of clay chimineas prevent the exterior from getting as hot, metal chimineas can be a burn hazzard.
- Make sure the chiminea is sitting securely so that it won’t tip and fall.
- A chiminea shouldn’t be placed in a grassy area, on a deck, or under an awning or low hanging tree.
- Always have a bucket of water and sand nearby for stray embers or a fire in the chiminea.
- After it has cooled, clean the ash out of the chiminea and then wash it.
- To seal a clay chiminea, lightly sand it and apply acrylic deck sealer. Reseal as needed.
- Cover or store a clay chiminea indoors during the winter.
Use the lid to cover the chimney when the chiminea is not in use.
Wait until the chiminea has cooled to use the lid. This will keep out rain that will cause cracking or rusting and debris that you will have to clear.
Do not use the lid on the chimney when cooking. It will prevent the air flow from working as intended, potentially causing the fire to be less efficient and the food to not cook as well.
Blocking the chimney with the lid while using the chiminea will also cause the smoke, heat, and potentially the flame to exit through the front opening toward you and your guests.
In addition, without the lid, you can lay skewers or a grill on the chimney opening and cook additional foods.
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