Is a Chiminea Safer Than a Fire Pit? (Why We Think So)

We’ve always preferred fire pits and fire baskets at home, but recently have been looking into buying a chiminea after a friend recommended theirs.

Chiminea’s are safer than fire pits for a variety of reasons, but mainly because their unique shape and design makes it easier to control the fire and the heat created by it. They are also easier to light, move around and maintain, which all have implications for improved safety.

Don’t get me wrong, I love our fire pit and basket, they’re great to it around after you’ve eaten in the evening. However, a chiminea looks like a good option if you want to just ‘set and forget’ your patio fire to provide some heating and an attractive talking point when you’re having supper.

Is a Chiminea Safer Than a Fire Pit?

11 Reasons We Think Chimineas Are Safer Than Fire Pits

Generally speaking, after doing some research we genuinely believe chimineas are much safer than fire pits. Here are our top 11 reasons why:

1. The Fire Hole is Smaller

The hole that you feed wood through into the chiminea, is much smaller than the opening on fire pits. That means there is less chance of accidental injury from direct exposure to flames, or burning your hand or wrist on the chiminea itself, than when feeding a fire pit with wood.

Many fire pits have such a big opening that you can “toss” the wood in, rather than place it with care. This leads to ashes, embers, and even smoldering wood chunks that can fly up and out of the pit and burn someone or something. This is a major safety hazard and can be a problem with many fire pits.

2. Fire Requires Less Attention

Once burning, a chiminea fire takes very little attention. That means you will be tending the fire less, and reducing the amount of times an accident may happen. 

Because the fire needs little attention from you, you’re less likely to receive hand or wrist burns from flames, coals, or smoldering wood.

In other words; the less you interact with the fire, the less chance you can be burned. 

3. Takes Less Wood

Another great wood-related safety factor about chimineas is that they require less wood altogether, and so, less wood storage and management is required.

The less you have to handle large amounts of wood, the less likely you are to injure yourself – especially if you’re processing wood with a chainsaw or cutting it with an axe.

This may not seem like such a significant factor, but anyone who is used to wood stoves and fire pits can tell you that this is genuinely a major plus.

4. Produces Less Smoke

Chiminea have a unique design that allows them to produce, and release, less smoke than traditional fire pits. Some chiminea produce extremely little amounts of smoke, period. 

That said, even the smokiest chiminea are less likely to cause smoke-related safety problems – even if nothing more than smoke in the eyes and accidentally breathing too much in. For this reason, chiminea are much more friendly to sit around with a group of friends or family than fire pits.

5. Highly Portable

Chimineas, for the most part, are portable. Even the heavier models can easily be moved by two (or three) strong people. But how does portability make a chiminea safer than a fire pit? Simple; being highly portable, chimineas can be placed in generally “safer” environments that many fire pits can. 

It also means they can be moved to different and potentially safer parts of the yard in extreme weather such as high winds. This factor lends at least a few safety points to chimineas. 

6. Wider-Variety of Materials

Due to the much broader range of materials that chiminea are made of, in comparison to fire pits, the safety-level of chiminea can be considered even higher because you are less likely to burn yourself, or damage your backyard.

While many chimineas are made of various metals, many are fashioned from ceramics and clays – making them quicker to cool and easier to move around. Many models also have handles to help with this too.

That means that you can place and use a chiminea in more types of environments than traditional fire pits, which are often fixed or overtly heavy due to their construction. Chiminea can be easily used in covered patios, patios, gardens, decks, and more – and the materials used in their manufacture make them safely portable.

chiminea v fire pit

7. Less Damage to Surrounding Area

Burning wood in a chiminea is much safer than burning it in a fire pit, as far as the surrounding environment is concerned. Ashes, coals, embers, and burning wood-ends constantly pop and jump out of fire pits – even if they have grates over them – and can end up damaging everything within a several-foot radius of the pit. With Chimineas, this splattering of burning wood and ashes is much smaller. 

With fire pits, the surrounding patio or garden for a yard or two may end up ruined, with Chimineas, this is not the case. Likewise, chairs, decking – and whatever other property may be in range of the fire pit and could end up being damaged eventually. Again, this is not the case with chimineas.

8. Children, Pets and Guests are Safer

If you enjoy sitting around the fire, whether on the deck or porch, or out in the backyard, you’ll be happy to know that it is safer to use a chiminea than a fire pit. This is because of the ingenious ‘closed oven’ style design of chimineas versus the wide open design of most fire pits.

Guests, pets, and children are not only less likely to accidentally bump into the burning-hot side or surface of a fire pit with a chiminea, but they are less likely to be the victim of popping and cracking wood that comes flying up and out of the fire pit.

Chiminea have much less of a reputation for accidental burns from flying ash and embers than fire pits.

9. Easier to Clean

Chiminea are designed both elegantly and minimalistically. This fact makes them much easier to clean than traditional fire pits – and safer too.

Cleaning out a wood burning fire pit can be problematic as you have to dig down into potentially hot embers and still burning coals to clear it for the next burning. Whereas with chimineas you just scoop out the ash from a small hole at knee height. There’s no bending and scraping which can be a literal pain in the back.

The ease with which chiminea are able to be cleaned makes them even safer than fire pits in our book.

10. Require Less Maintenance

Aside from less cleaning, chimineas also require quite a bit less maintenance than fire pits due to their straightforward design.

Chiminea are based on a simple traditional Mexican style “heater” and are for the most part a single-cast fixture. That means, as far as maintenance goes, all you need to do is remove ashes with a small scoop and maybe dust off the chiminea and underneath it from time to time.

With certain models of fire pits, there are several attachments that need to be removed, cleaned, possibly scrubbed, and replaced. Each time you go through this process you have to ensure you replace everything properly so the fire pit operates safely the next time you use it.

11. Superior Ease of Use

The fact that chimineas are so easy to use, clean, and maintain is one of the biggest indicators of their safety level. Furthermore, chimineas are much easier to control, overall, than fire pits, in many regards.

For example, fire pits are generally designed for much larger fires than chiminea. That means it takes more work to build the fire, keep it going, and maintain it – let alone manage it while entertaining guests or children.

Ease of tending the flames and lack of overall hassle is therefore an important factor in keeping safe around any fire.

Summary

Investing in a chiminea looks like a great idea despite still loving our fire pit and fire basket – because they seem to have different uses.

While certainly safer, chiminea are also more self-contained, portable, easy to manage, clean and maintain. They create less heat and generally direct this heat straight out of the front of them, and also produce less smoke as this goes straight out the chimney at the top.

This means chiminea can be positioned at the edge of the patio or decking, and become an accompaniment to a dining or seating area, rather than a focal point like a fire pit.

As such, because you sit around a fire pit and in front of a chiminea – this certainly represents not only a difference in use – but also creates different ramifications in terms of safety.