Clay chimineas are originally from Mexico. They are more difficult to care for than cast iron chimineas, but they are less dangerous because they don't get as hot. They are also less expensive. Follow these steps to care for a clay chiminea.
Buy a sealer to protect your chiminea and apply it according to manufacturer's directions. You need to reseal it every 6 to 12 months.
Place your chiminea in a permanent location. It's best not to move it because it can crack.
Put about 10 cm (4 inches) of sand, pea gravel or lava rock in your chiminea. Light a small paper fire and allow the sides to get slightly warm and completely cool off.
Light a few more small fires using paper and a bit of wood, letting the chiminea cool off each time. This lighting will allow the clay to adjust to the heat.
Get a cover for your chiminea if it didn't come with one. It will last much longer when protected from the elements.
Consider getting a cast iron or aluminum chiminea if you live in a cold damp climate or you may have to store your clay chiminea inside during the cold season. Cast iron or aluminum is easier to care for.
Make sure your chiminea is completely dry before lighting fires to keep it from cracking. Decorate your chiminea with paint to make it more festive.
Don't use chemicals to light the fire. Use long-sleeved stove gloves to keep from getting burned. Don't use your chiminea on a wooden or composite wood deck. The deck could ignite. You may be able to use it on top of a heat-proof mat.