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A chimenea //, also spelled chiminea (from Spanish: chimenea which derive from French cheminée, "chimney"), is a freestanding front-loading fireplace or oven with a bulbous body and usually a vertical smoke vent or chimney.
Historically chimeneas have been made out of fired clay and used for heating and cooking. These traditional designs can be traced to Spain and its influence on Mexico. The first use of a traditionally designed chimenea appears around 400 years ago.
The chimenea was once a daily life necessity that served a domestic purpose. The chimenea of the past was used indoors for heating and cooking, usually by an open window or in the center of the hut or home with an opening in the roof to allow smoke to escape. With the advent of the modern home, chimeneas are now used outdoors mainly for entertainment in a backyard setting.
Because of the exposure to elements and occasional usage, clay chimeneas no longer serve as the material of choice. The lifespan of the newer cast iron- and aluminium-design outdoor fireplaces and concern for safety have mostly replaced the traditional clay models. More modern clay chimeneas have clay that has been heavily grogged to better handle the thermal stresses that often fracture traditional earthenware items.
Fire wood is the most commonly used for fuel although pressure-treated lumber is not recommended. Charcoal and ethanol can be used in some types of chimenea.