1 October 2017
So far, am really pleased with this, although I've not yet lit it, so am hoping I will still be as pleased afterwards. I did a bit of research into clay chimineas before ordering, because quite a few reviewers were upset because they followed instructions for curing but the chimney still cracked. But then other people say they've used them for years without problems. I think part of the problem is that the instructions are a bit optimistic about the process. The YouTube video I saw said to to light the first fire just using a few balls of newspaper and a few sticks of kindling, and to let this die down and it to cool down fully before lighting another fire, which should also be very small. I think it said to light at least 2 smaller fires before adding a log to the 3rd one, anyway, it was slower than the process described in the instructions, which says to add a log to the first fire and to burn it slowly. It's maybe also different understandings of what burning slowly means and how well it works might also depend on what type of log you use. I don't think you're ever meant to burn more than 2 logs at once - the fires should never be allowed to get too big or hot, for example, so that flames enter the chimney. One online seller of clay chimineas said that if the chimney starts to turn brown from the outside, then the fire is too hot, and that this invalidates the guarantee for cracks. In some of the pictures I saw from buyers where the chimney had cracked, it definitely looked brown on the outside, so I think it also might be an issue of fire size or heat after curing. Also, it must not get wet, and if it does, it must be fully dried out before using. There's also the sand: it says to use "normal" building sand, but different types of building uses different types of sand. I take it they mean Bricklayer's sand, which has medium-size particles, whereas sharp sand has larger particles, then there's jointing sand, which is really fine, according to one website, but sites don't all use the same terms for the different types of building sand, some speak of "soft" sand, so that's a bit confusing. Again, it would've been better to be more specific, if it matters which type is used. This comes already cured, but it says it will need repeating "throughout the season" - again, a bit vague.. The curing does nothing to prevent cracking, though, that's just to protect the outside from weathering. Apparently, it's normal for them to discolour with use, anyway, even if cured, as some buyers of the blue ones remarked, who were disappointed. I liked the blue ones, but you can paint them, anyway, so thought I'd go for this one, as smaller. I wanted a small one, for my small garden, and this is just the right size. It's 78 cm high, including stand and lid, and the stand is 25 cm high. The stand has a diameter of 34 cm, the chiminea of 36 cm and the inside space of about 30 cm. It needs 2 m of clearance all around and above and I was interested to read that it can be used with charcoal for grilling. I liked the fact that the chimney comes off to use this one as a grill. Many of the metal ones have a grill rack, but you have to insert and remove it through the opening, and that looks difficult. However, while I like this feature, it's also a disadvantage, because while it sits very stable on the stand, and there is a lip for the grill rack to sit in, there's nothing to hold the chimney in place on the lower part, and it could easily get knocked off and doesn't feel very stable. It would've been better if the lip also came up around the edge of the top part. You're not supposed to move this much, once it's been sited, apparently, it weakens them. It's quite heavy, I can't lift it whole, but here, the two parts are also an advantage, as I can lift each part on its own. It comes with a metal rack for the fire and the grill rack, and a funny little tool which I can't quite determine the purpose of. I've not even put mine outside yet, as it's been raining a lot and I'm waiting for the cover to arrive before putting it outside. They also need protecting from frost. They sell padded covers, but the instructions recommend taking it indoors if it's below 0. Once the cover arrives, I will try out a few very small fires initially, and try to update this review afterwards.. until then, can't really recommend it.