Usage and Maintenance Guide- Clay Chimeneas

Instructions for your Clay Chimenea

  • This is a genuine Mexican design handmade by craftsmen in Mexico. Use your clay chimenea for warmth and outdoor cooking. It is beautiful to look as a garden decoration.
  • Clay chimeneas are like outdoor radiators, the clay is heated by the fire and gentle warmth will radiate out. It is not necessary to make a large fire, one or two logs is sufficient.
  • You can cook on clay chimeneas. The belly acts like an oven, so barbecuing or cooking a pizza is quick and easy, so is using any of long-handled tools. Cast iron pots specifically designed to fit into the top of the funnel cooking stews and soups quickly are available.
  • Clay chimeneas are fragile, so care needs to be taken to avoid damage. Clay chimeneas may CRACK, CHIP OR BREAK if dropped or knocked over or due to thermal shock or if left outside in the frost.
  • To avoid dropping or knocking the chimenea over, handle the chimenea with care at all times. Do not โ€œlet goโ€ of the chimenea, particularly on hard floors, but gently lower it so there as little impact as possible. Dropping a clay chimenea, even from 5cm high may break, crack or chip it. If Transporting it in the car, make sure it is not allowed to move around, and we recommend the addition of blankets or bubble-wrap.
  • High winds may tip the chimenea over, so be mindful of where it is situated and how to avoid this. Similarly, do not bang into the chimenea with hard or heavy objects.
  • Do not throw fuel into a clay chimenea. The impact may crack the clay or tip the chimenea over which is dangerous. Do not drag or move a chimenea on its stand: it may fall off and break.
  • To move a chimenea, lift it off the stand, re-position the stand, and lift the chimenea back on.
  • Mexican chimeneas are hand-made and hand-painted, so shapes and colours may vary slightly. The paint finish on this chimenea will discolour when fired or if left outside all the time. Colour changes do not affect use. Mexican chimeneas can be repainted.
  • Mexican chimeneas do not like to be left in a damp environment for too long. It weakens their structure. If your chimenea has been allowed to become sodden with rainwater for a while, or has been kept unprotected in a cold and wet environment, wait for it to dry before using.
  • No guarantees are offered against cracking of clay chimeneas and cracked products cannot be exchanged or refunded.
  • You may use dry wood logs or charcoal fuel. Clay chimeneas and other patio fires can be used to burn garden refuse such as leaves or branches.
  • Wet logs will create a lot of smoke, use seasoned or kiln dried wood to minimise smoke.
  • When cooking use locally made charcoal from renewable forests with minimal transport cost.
  • For a fire without firelighters or kindling, use a FIRELOG (smokeless fuel), a wax impregnated sawdust briquette, wrapped in a paper. Just light both ends of the paper and the log will burn for about 2ยฝ hours. Do not use Fire Logs for cooking. Please contact us for details.
  • Protect hands with FIRE GLOVES when adding fuel. The more fuel is added, the more intense the heat, the larger the flames. Do not over-fuel the fire.
  • Use a POKER to reposition logs inside the patio fire.
  • If the fire is slow to start, more air will help, use a BELLOW to blow extra air into a slow fire.

Thermal Shock

THERMAL SHOCK is a technical term used to describe clay cracking due to the heat of the fire. The main-principle to avoid thermal shock is no large temperature variations in a short period of time, and not too large a fire. Here is some advice to help prevent it:
  • Before lighting, put 50 mm (2 inches) of lava stones/ pumice or sand/gravel in the bottom to protect the base from direct heat. Failure to do this may crack your clay chimenea.
  • Start the fire with balled newspaper, dry kindling or OCOTE sticks. Please contact us for details. NEVER use petrol or spirit based lighting fuels. They may crack your chimenea.
  • Do two or three small fires at first. This โ€˜curesโ€™ the clay, making it harder and more resistant to thermal shock. The more your chimenea is fired, the harder the clay becomes.
  • It is essential to allow the clay chimenea to warm up slowly by keeping the fire small for the first 20 minutes (even after initial curing). Add more firewood but do not build a large roaring fire which may crack the chimenea and is dangerous.
  • Never feed fuel through the funnel of the chimenea.
  • Do not over-fuel the chimenea. You are over-fuelling the chimenea if flames come out of the top of the funnel. If flames are showing out of the funnel, do not add more fuel until the flames disappeared and no longer visible outside of the chimenea. You may space the logs in the belly to reduce the flames.
  • Be mindful of the outside temperature. The colder the air temperature, the more likely the occurrence of thermal shock, because temperature difference is a factor in thermal shock.
  • ALWAYS REMOVE the lid off the funnel when firing the chimenea. Failure to do so will increase the temperature inside the chimenea and may cause the chimenea to crack.
  • Never extinguish the fire with water, this may crack the chimenea.
  • The tell-tale signs of thermal shock are cracks appearing on the chimenea. Any cracks can be repaired with CHIM-FILLER which is a type of fire cement and the chimenea may continue to be used. Please contact us for buying options.
  • Thermal shock may make a โ€˜pingingโ€™ sound, and vertical or horizontal cracks will appear. Large cracks may render the chimenea unsafe and we recommend that chimeneas with large structural cracks not be used for fires.
  • Thermal shock is not dependent on the age of the chimenea or the number of times it has been used and may occur on the first firing.

Frost Damage

FROST DAMAGE including chipping or cracking may occur when Mexican chimeneas are left outside in the winter without protection or a cover. Clay is a porous material and absorbs water. If the chimenea is water sodden and the temperature drops to below zero degrees Celsius, the water inside the clay will freeze and expand and crack the clay. This is a natural phenomenon which cannot be prevented.

    Here is some advice to help prevent frost damage:

    • Keep the chimenea dry.
    • Bring it inside, out of the frost, for the winter.
    • Protect the chimenea with CHIM-PROTECT: this makes the chimenea less porous but is not a 100% guaranteed if left un-protected.
    • Cover the chimenea with a CHIMENEA COVER if you cannot bring it inside. Make sure the chimenea is dry before covering it up, otherwise you will be enclosing the moisture.
    • Use a WINTERCOAT which is a padded cover. This will help prevent the chimenea freezing and is a much better protection than the standard cover. Please contact us for details.
    • Frost damage can be repaired with CHIM-FILLER, a type of fire cement. Please contact us for details.

    Maintenance Instructions for your Clay Chimenea

    • With use the paint finish on your chimenea will change and discolour, and there will be blackening around the rim. The bigger the fires, the faster the paint finish will change.
    • A clay chimenea can be re-painted with ordinary household emulsion paint after removing any loose paint. The shiny gloss effect paint finish will peel and burn when heated to a high temperature and will peel off if left outside in the winter. No guarantees are offered for the paint finish.
    • The stand is made of steel and will rust. To reduce the likelihood of rusting bring the chimenea and stand inside or protect with a weatherproof cover. Ideally, bring inside for the winter. Stands can be Repainted.
    • Rust runs may mark flooring, slabs, and patios, so if you are worried about marking, protect your flooring.
    • A discoloured chimenea on a rusty stand is still fit for purpose and can continue to be used.
    • Cracks in the clay may be repaired with CHIM-FILLER and continue to be used. Please contact us for details. If a large structural crack appears, stop using the chimenea and dispose of it or use it for decorative purposes. All clay chimeneas crack eventually.

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