Although the summer season is coming, many people are looking towards their fireplace as a great place to spend time with friends and family in the warm months – not an indoor fireplace, but a semi-portable design often located on a back deck or in the backyard. These outdoor fireplaces provide ambience to any outdoor evening gathering, less expensively than many people think.
The most common kind of outdoor fireplace is known as a chiminea, consisting of a concave base, a single opening through which to feed the fire, and a short chimney or smoke stack. These small outdoor fireplaces are often made of cast iron, aluminum, ceramic or terra cotta, and although they are intended mostly for small fires, there are larger and more durable units (generally cast iron) which are intended for a controlled but roaring bonfire in the safety of your own back yard.
Chimineas and other outdoor fireplaces are designed for use in the summer with the intention of winter storage, since the clay or terra cotta based units can actually crack in extremely cold winter temperatures. Cast iron chimineas or outdoor fireplaces are not at risk for cracking, but snow and other precipitation will quickly cause them to rust. These outdoor fireplaces tend to range in price from $150 all the way up to well over $500 depending on the material, size, and the extra safety or comfort features that you happen to choose.
Some have safety grills and pitched chimney stacks to keep hot embers or ash from floating away and creating a fire hazard, while others are no more than a firebox with an open stack. Regardless of the type of chiminea or outdoor fireplace, only firewood should be burned in it. Other substances may give off toxic chemicals that can ruin the atmosphere of your gathering both literally and figuratively, and some fuels may leave hard to clean deposits on the inside of the fireplace.
Outdoor fireplaces are an increasingly popular way for people to gather together, experiencing the outdoors without traveling too far from home – in the evening when the air grows cooler and some brave souls venture past the air conditioning. If you think back towards childhood memories of open campfires, an outdoor woodstove might just be the thing to try.