How to Seal Clay Chimeneas

Written by angela brady
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Clay chimeneas are a beautifully artistic addition to any outdoor space. Because they are made of raw clay, it is necessary to seal both the inside and the outside of the piece before use to prevent hairline cracks from breaking all the way through from the heat. Proper sealing will add years to the life of your chimenea. Two separate sealing methods must be used--one for the outside and one for the inside, and the outside should always be sealed before the inside.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Damp rag
  • Thompson's Water Seal, Future Floor Polish, Butcher's Wax, or any sealant recommended by the maker of the chimenea
  • Sand
  • Ample supply of kindling and small pieces of wood

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    Seal the Outside

  1. 1

    Clean the outside of the chimenea with a damp rag, making sure no dirt or dust remains. Let dry in the sun for two hours. If any area of the chimenea feels cool to the touch, it is still wet inside the clay, and requires additional drying time.

  2. 2

    Apply spray sealant to the outside of the chimenea, moving the bottle back and forth as you spray to ensure an even coat. Spray bottles are not recommended for oil-based sealants--rub it in with a rag instead.

  3. 3

    Rub the sealant into the clay using a clean rag in a circular motion. Overlap each section, and be sure to get good coverage around edges and in corners. Don't forget to cover the bottom and the upper rim.

  4. 4

    Repeat the process every six months. Frequently used chimeneas or those located in dry, hot weather may need resealing as often as every two or three months. When the outside begins to lose its sheen, it is time to reseal.

    Seal the Inside

  1. 1

    Pour 3 inches of sand into the bottom of the chimenea. This will help protect the clay on the bottom from the heat of the fire, and will make it easier to scoop out piles of ash after the fire is out.

  2. 2

    Arrange a small pile of kindling and other small pieces of wood. Keep the pile small, and avoid "wet" wood or cedar, as they may pop or cause sparks. Never burn charcoal in a chimenea.

  3. 3

    Light the fire, and let it burn out naturally. The smoke and soot from the fire will naturally seal any small cracks or defects.

  4. 4

    Repeat process five to 10 times, letting the chimenea cool completely after each fire. Between fires, remove only the pile of ash in the bowl. Wiping the ash and soot from the inside walls would remove the protective layer and be counterproductive. Do not burn large fires until the inside has been sealed.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not attempt to seal the inside until the outside sealant has dried for at least 24 hours.
  • Do not apply the sealant solution to the inside of the chimenea.

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