Cast Iron Chiminea Maintenance
A cast iron chiminea is a portable iron fireplace that most often has a round body with an opening in the front and a vertical chimney on top. Outdoor fireplace chimineas made of cast iron are very durable and long-lasting, and require minimal care and maintenance as compared to other materials.
Select a Suitable Site for the Chiminea
The cast iron chiminea must be kept on a level, firm surface to avoid falls. Never place a cast iron chiminea directly on a deck or any other flammable surface. The chiminea must have fire-proof material underneath to prevent fires. Place the chiminea a safe distance away from fences, plants and trees. Also make sure there are no overhanging branches or wires above the chiminea.
Read the assembly instructions thoroughly before you assemble a Mexican chiminea. Since cast iron chimineas tend to be very heavy, it is best to have someone help you. To avoid carrying the entire chiminea, carry the parts to the spot where you plan to use it, and assemble it there. After assembly, check the chiminea to make sure all the bolts and nuts are secure and tight.
Cast iron chimineas are usually coated with a protective finish and fire-resistant paint. However, rust is inevitable on a cast iron chiminea, and you can prevent rust formation to some extent, if you cure the paint as soon as the chiminea is assembled. To cure the paint on the cooking grate and the chiminea, fix the grate inside the chiminea and light a small fire using kindling. After burning a small kindling fire in the chiminea for about an hour, light a full fire using wood, before the chiminea has a chance to cool down. The full fire should also burn for about an hour, after which you can let the chiminea cool down.
When you buy a chiminea, it is best to buy a suitable cover at the same time. You can maximize the life of your chiminea by covering it and protecting it from rain and snow. You must only cover the chiminea after it has completely cooled down.
Due to the high heat produced in the chiminea, some of the protective material may wear off. In such cases, the chances of rusting are higher. To prevent rusting, use sandpaper to smoothen the surface, wipe off any dust from the chiminea, and then spray fire-resistant paint over the affected area.
Never start a large fire in a chiminea. These devices are only meant to burn small amounts of wood or charcoal. Never use an accelerant like gasoline or alcohol in a cast iron chiminea. Use of such materials is very dangerous, and can lead to explosions.
Never use water to extinguish a fire. The sudden drop in temperature can cause the chiminea to shatter. If you have severe winters, it is best to store the chiminea in a warm place during the winter to prevent the metal from cracking. If you plan to use the chiminea in the winter, placing the chiminea in a sunny spot is helpful. In very cold weather, you must gradually warm up the chiminea for about half an hour before you start a fire.
Clean the cast iron chiminea regularly by removing the ashes, cleaning and drying the grill and the interior of the chiminea, and then replacing the grill.