A chimenea is a portable outdoor fireplace you can put on a patio. When you have a chimenea, even if you live in the city, you can have a fire in your own backyard. It's not hard to use a chimenea. Just like any other fireplace, you build a fire, only smaller. But even a small fire in a chimenea warms the area around it.
Find a site for your chimenea. Place your chimenea on a level, fireproof base, such as a concrete, brick or stone patio.
Fill the bottom of the chimenea with sand or gravel. The top of the sand or gravel should be just below the side opening of the chimenea. The sand or gravel will protect the bottom of the chimenea from direct exposure to the heat of the fire. While you can build a fire in a chimenea without a layer of sand or gravel in the bottom, doing so increases the risk that the chimenea will crack or break from the heat of the fire.
Place bricks or stones about 6 inches apart on top of the bed of gravel or sand. These will serve as a "grate" on which to set the larger fire logs.
For new chimeneas: The first five to 10 fires in a new chimenea must be smaller than normal. This will gradually acclimate it and prevent your chimenea from cracking or breaking from the fire's intense heat.
Select firewood. Firewood for a chimenea must be smaller than wood for a traditional fireplace. Select firewood for your chimenea that is about 9 to 14 inches in length and about 4 to 5 inches in diameter.
Build a fire. Begin with a small pile of kindling over one or two sheets of crumpled newspaper. Do not use starter fluid, gasoline or any other fire-starting preparation. Light the newspaper to start the fire. When the kindling is burning well, add one or two slightly larger pieces of wood. When this wood is burning well, carefully add your chimenea-sized fire logs. Place the ends of the fire logs on the bricks or stones you installed in Step 3. If your chimenea is new, build only a small fire using kindling-sized logs.
Allow the fire to burn itself out naturally. Do not pour water on a fire in a chimenea because the water may cause it to crack and break.
Clean out ashes. Rake out large pieces and use a fireplace shovel to remove the smaller particles. Do not remove too much of the sand that's in the bottom. If using gravel in the bottom, periodically remove all of the gravel and rinse it to remove ashes that have worked their way down and filled the spaces between the gravel.