Chimineas have become a popular addition to many backyards and patios. The contained fire they burn and unique designs available have made them a charming and warming centrepiece on many a cool night. However, cast iron chimineas can present a problem during cold weather. There are a few simple techniques that will allow you to use your cast iron chiminea in the winter without breaking or cracking it.
Clean out the remains of any ash from your last fire in your chiminea, but keep any charcoal that may be present from the wood you burnt.
Pour some charcoal briquettes in a tin pie plate on the ground next to your chiminea. Spray lighter fluid on them. Light the briquettes and let them burn until you are certain they will stay lit.
Using the potholders, set the pie plate beneath the bottom of your chiminea (but not in it) so the fire can begin to warm the outside of the chiminea. Leave the plate in place for 15 minutes.
Use the potholders to remove the pie plate and place it inside the chiminea. Leave the plate in place for another 15 minutes or until the chiminea feels warm to the touch when you place your hand on the middle of the outside of the body. Don't worry about burning yourself as the body of the chiminea will become warm to the touch, but not hot. You can use the briquettes to then start your fire by pouring them out of the plate and adding in the wood.
Before you install your cast iron chiminea, pick a location based upon the amount of sun that it will receive in winter. This will help keep the cast iron warm in cold weather and reduce the risk of the metal cracking.
Never use water to extinguish a fire in a cast iron chiminea because the sudden change in temperature can cause the chiminea to shatter. Keep an ash bucket nearby and use the cold ashes from an old fire to smother the new one.