Sunday, November 15, 2009

What a great invention!

That, to the right there, is a chiminea and I think it's one of the great inventions. Sadly, I've only just become aware of it, I didn't know they existed until five minutes ago. They've also been around for a long time, centuries at least, so it's me not being very swift on the uptake rather than anything else going on here. What rather surprises me is that I've spent a lot of time in Iberian influenced countries and so I should have seen them and understood them but haven't: let's say I'm obviously very slow on the uptake then.

But what's the point about chimineas then? Well, in one sense they're just a variation on a fireplace. Or a cast iron stove: you can indeed cook in them, there's a grill that goes inside them. But they're really much more than that for they solve a quite specific problem. The problem with a basic fire, whether a campfire or a fireplace, is that most of the heat simply goes straight up into the sky. But these are made of cast iron: and so most of the heat, when first lit, is used to heat up that cast iron: it then gets radiated outwards, not upwards. This means that for any given amount of wood that you're going to burn you're going to get more useful heat and less simply lost to the atmosphere. Which is good of course.

In our case a chiminea would solve a specific problem. We do like to be outside of an evening, taking that sundowner and looking out over the hills. But it can get cold. OK, so, we might think of purchasing a patio heater. But around here gas (propane that is) to fire one up is expensive and yet wood is cheap ($100 a tonne sort of level). But open fires don't really produce all that much heat: so here's the solution. Instead of heating the air above the garden we'd be heating us in the garden: which is really rather the point of the exercise.