Chimineas are clay outdoor fireplaces that have become popular yard and patio accents. Due to their popularity, production of cheaper chimineas has increased, so that not all are finished in the same way. Some basic terra-cotta clay models have not been baked or kiln-dried, nor have they been painted or sealed to protect them from moisture. Just because you buy a less-expensive version, however, does not mean you've bought a lemon, although you will have to seal it yourself.
Weatherproof Your Chiminea
You will need to apply some sort of wax to the exterior of your chiminea to act as a weatherproofing seal. The Bath Garden Center and Nursery in Fort Collins, Col., recommends Future acrylic floor finish or Butcher's wax. Oil-based sealants can clog a spray bottle, so acrylic is probably the easiest to use. Simply pour it into a spray bottle, squirt some on the outside of your chiminea and rub it in with a cloth. This will seal pores and hairline cracks that you might not be able to see, but that can cause larger cracks in the bowl of your chiminea when it gets wet and then dries again. If you use your chiminea frequently, you should consider reapplying sealant about once a month. Provide further protection by covering your (cool) chiminea when it is not in use with a waterproof cover such as an old grill cover or a storm cover made specifically for a chiminea.
If you live in a place with very cold winters, take the time to bring your chiminea indoors for the coldest parts of the season. Fluctuations in temperature can also cause cracks in the clay, regardless of weatherproofing. Store it in the garage or in a shed. Do not let it sit on its stand all winter, but carefully lift it off (with one hand in the mouth and the stack resting in the crook of your arm) and place it on a pallet or something raised slightly off the ground. You should reapply a weatherproofing seal when you take it out again for the spring.