How to Make Fire Starters From Pine Cones

How to Make Fire Starters From Pine ConesStarting a fire is a crucial part of camping (when allowed by the area management agency), especially when the weather is wet. These simple-to-make pine cone fire-starters are great ways to create a fire. One of the interesting features is the use of petroleum jelly on the "fuse."


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • 1 lb. chunk of paraffin
  • 1 small bottle of petroleum jelly
  • 1 empty coffee can or similar large container that can be ruined
  • Pot of water
  • Small pine cones
  • (1) 2- to 4-quart pot filled with water to about 1 1/2 inches from the top
  • Pair of tongs
  • Roll of wax paper
  • 1 cup of dryer vent lint or a ball of thick cotton string
  • 1 Popsicle stick or similar smooth piece of wood
  • Cooling rack
Step 1
Bring the water in the pot to a rolling boil. Place the paraffin into the can, and set the can into the boiling water. This will melt the paraffin. Avoid getting water into the can. While the paraffin is melting, assemble the "fuse" by trying one of the following: If using dryer lint, take a pinch of lint (about 1/2 to 3/4 inch cube) and rub it with the petroleum jelly. Stuff the lint into one of the nooks of the pine cone with a small portion (about 1/8 inch) sticking out; or cut a 3-inch length of string and cover with a thin coat of petroleum jelly. Wrap the string so that it fits within a nook on the pine cone. Leave about 1/4 inch sticking out.
Spread wax paper under the cooling rack to catch drips.
Step 2
Use the tongs to dip a pine cone into the paraffin, ensuring that the wax covers the exterior of the cone and reasonably fills the nooks and crannies. Lightly cover the exposed dryer lint or piece of string that is exposed from the pine cone. Hold the pine cone over the can to let excess wax drip back into the pan.
Step 3
Grab the coated pine cone with the tongs and set it on the cooling rack. Let the pine cone dry over night. Store in an air-tight container, your emergency kit, and with your camping gear. Keep from exposing the starters to heat sources or open flames. This is more a step to prevent the wax from melting--which it will if left in a hot car or very hot garage.

Tips & Warnings

There are so many variables in pine cone size, it is not possible to project how many cones will be created by the specified quantities.
If melting paraffin spills or drips, let it cool and harden before cleaning, the wax will stick to porcelain, metal, or tempered glass, and simple pressure scraping on the edge--usually with a finger--will break the bond.
Almost every part used in making the pine cone fire starter is flammable, so use caution around heat or flame.
Ensure adequate ventilation and a clear workspace.
Have a fire extinguisher handy as well as two damp towels to smother small flames.
Keep petroleum jelly away from the heat source. Though a low risk, the fumes are flammable and could ignite.

Article Written By Eric Jay Toll

Eric Jay Toll has been writing since 1970, influenced by his active lifestyle. An outdoorsman, businessman, planner and travel writer, Toll's work appears in travel guides for the Navajo Nation, "TIME" and "Planning" magazines and on various websites. He studied broadcast marketing and management at Southern Illinois University.

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