Is a clay or metal chiminea better? Well, they both have advantages and disadvantages, for example, moisture, heat, and elements don’t affect a metal chiminea very much, on the other hand, clay chimineas have an attractive earthy natural look that fits perfectly in any backyard or garden.

While both types of chimineas serve the same basic function, there are some key differences between them, below are some of the main differences between a clay and metal chiminea so continue reading if you are trying to decide which one better suits your needs.

What Is The Difference Between A Clay And Metal Chiminea?

In this section let’s go through some key features of clay and metal chimineas, some of the points we will cover are material, heat retention, durability, maintenance, and design, this comparison will be a great help to anyone looking to buy a chiminea firepit and will help you understand what is the right choice for your backyard.

Chiminea Clay vs Metal, Key Differences

In this section, let’s look at the difference between a clay or metal chiminea, by comparing them and looking at the good and bad of each one, first let’s talk about the materials they are made of.


Clay chimineas are made from natural clay, which is a porous material that absorbs moisture. This makes them more susceptible to damage from water and can cause a chiminea to crack or even break, especially in cold weather, clay chimineas are typically more fragile than metal and can be more difficult to move because of their weight and fragility.

Metal chimineas, on the other hand, are typically made from cast iron, steel, or other metal alloys like aluminum, these materials are always going to be more durable than clay and are less likely to crack or break, metal chimineas are also less susceptible to damage from moisture or water, so they are not ideal for use in areas with high humidity or frequent rainfall, this can be remedied with a cover if left outside, they are typically easier to move because of their weight and shape.

Heat retention

Clay chimineas are known for their ability to retain heat, making them an excellent choice for those cold nights, the clay material absorbs the heat and then slowly releases it, keeping the surrounding area warm for a longer period of time even after it goes out.

What happens is the thick walls of terracotta clay chimineas retain the heat, which radiates out slowly and evenly to the surrounding area, making it ideal for chilly evenings.

Metal chimineas do not retain heat as well as clay chimineas, but they are always going to be more efficient at radiating heat outward, almost acting like a wood-burning stove in your home.

This is because the metal heats up quickly and the heat is transferred to the surrounding air immediately, making them a great choice for cold weather.


Metal chimineas are generally considered to be more durable than clay chimineas, they can withstand harsh weather conditions, including high winds, rain, and snow, without sustaining any significant damage, metal chimineas are also less prone to cracking or breaking, which makes them a more long-term investment, I would recommend a chiminea cover that will protect it even more from the elements, buy yours here.

Clay chimineas are prone to cracking but this is not a deal breaker, this can happen especially if they are exposed to moisture, this is because the clay material absorbs moisture and expands and contracts as it heats and cools, clay chimineas are more likely to crack or break under these conditions, making them less durable.


Clay chimineas will need more maintenance than metal, they need to be protected, from moisture, and should be stored indoors during the winter to prevent having a cracked chiminea. if they are left outside in the rain, yours will need to be covered with a waterproof cover to be protected from the elements.

Clay chimineas also need to be cured before they can be used, which involves slowly heating them up over a period of several hours to remove any moisture from the clay.

One question that many people ask is “Can I use my clay chiminea in the winter?” and the answer is yes, where you need to be careful in the winter so always start a very small fire first then gradually add wood, this should be a slow process, once it is at full temperature everything should be fine.

YouTube video
See this video on how to light and cure your terracotta chiminea
Buy your Lava Rocks Here.

Metal chimineas are generally more low-maintenance and most chimineas can be left outside year-round, they don’t need to be cured or protected from moisture like clay chimineas, however, they should still be cleaned regularly to prevent your chiminea from rusting or other types of corrosion, also a chiminea cover wouldn’t hurt to keep it in good shape over the years.


Clay chimineas are available in a wider variety of designs and styles, as they are easier to mold and shape because they are almost like clay pottery that can be molded, clay can be decorated with intricate designs, and patterns, or even hand-painted for a unique, artistic look, this being my personal favorite, they also come in different sizes and shapes, from small and round to tall and rectangular, so really it’s just a matter of finding the one that you like.

Metal chimineas are typically simpler in design, but they can be more ornate and decorative than clay chimineas, most of them have elegant and intricate patterns that are cut into the metal or are designed using metalworking techniques, some of the nicest modern designs are made from cast aluminum and these have become very popular.

Metal can also comes in different finishes, including matte, glossy, and textured, which can give them a unique and attractive look, and they can also be shaped into different sizes and forms, but in most cases, they are limited in terms of detail in comparison to clay.

The best way to take care of and stop a metal chiminea from rusting is to buy a waterproof chiminea cover that is specifically designed for it, see one here.

Conclusion, Is a Clay Or Metal Chiminea Better?

In conclusion, what is the better a clay or metal chiminea is the best choice for your outdoor space depending on your personal preferences and needs, in most cases, metal chimineas are more durable, less prone to cracking, and easier to maintain, whereas clay chimineas have a unique and rustic appearance and are better at retaining heat, and are typically lightweight and easier to move.

Ultimately, the decision between a clay or metal chiminea comes down to your specific needs and preferences, if you are looking for a durable and low-maintenance option that is designed for cooking, a metal chiminea may be the best choice for you, if you are looking for a unique and charming way to add warmth and ambiance to your outdoor space and don’t mind the additional maintenance, then a clay chiminea may be the way to go, and remember a chiminea cover can help prevent damage from the elements and stop your chiminea from rusting if it is metal.

No matter which type of chiminea you choose, be sure to follow safety and maintenance guidelines to ensure that you can enjoy your chiminea for years to come, with some proper care and attention, a clay or metal chiminea can be a great addition to your outdoor space and provide warmth and ambiance for all your family gatherings.

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