How to Make Fire Starters From Pine Cones

How to Make Fire Starters From Pine ConesIf you love the time-saving convenience of starting a fire in a flash then you may be up for making a batch of these homemade fire starters. Pine cone fire starters are not only handy, but decorative as well and can add a homey appeal to your next fireplace event. These ornamental fire starters may also be given as gifts in baskets at Christmas time and can easily be made more festive with just a few small additions to the process.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Pine cones
  • Candle wax
  • 3 to 4 foil-lined 9x12 baking pans
  • Sawdust
  • Coffee can
  • Medium-sized pot
  • Tongs
  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic 30-gallon trash bag
  • Copper, sodium, lithium, potassium or calcium chlorides (optional)
  • Baskets or gift bags (optional)
Step 1
If using fresh pine cones, dry them out on several foil-lined baking pans by heating at 225 degrees in the oven for 20-30 minutes; turn off the oven, leaving the cones inside for an additional two to three hours or until completely dried of any sap or moisture.
Step 2
Melt the wax using an old coffee can inside a pot of water. Use as much wax as needed for the amount of pine cone fire starters you will be making. Leftover wax is no problem and can simply dry in the can until the next time you make a batch. Heat slowly over low heat until the wax is completely melted.
Step 3
Line a nearby table or counter area with a trash bag and place the baking pans on top. Completely cover the bottom and sides of the baking pans with tin foil so you will not have a mess to clean up later. Spread layers of sawdust in one or two of the pans, reserving the other two for the finished pine cones.
Step 4
Dip each pine cone into the melted wax with tongs, dipping and lifting and waiting 15 seconds before dipping again. Do this three times to coat the cones evenly; this allows the wax to slightly dry so you get a better coat with each application. Let excess wax drip back into can, then carefully move the waxy cone onto one of the pans filled with sawdust. Roll the pine cones in sawdust and place them into the clean foil-lined pans in an upright position to dry.
Step 5
To create a more festive cone that will give off a colorful light show, you may opt to add chemicals to your cones after dipping in the wax but before applying the sawdust. The following chemicals may be purchased online or in retail stores: copper chloride (which produces blue sparks), sodium chloride (which is salt, and produces orange sparks), lithium chloride (pink), potassium chloride (purple) or strontium chloride (red). Use gloves and sprinkle one or more of the color-producing chlorides onto the cones and roll in sawdust.
Step 6
Once dried, you may store your cones in a cheerful basket near the fireplace or pop them into decorative plastic bags to give as gifts. You may also store them in a box or plastic container but be sure to keep them away from excessive heat as the wax may melt if stored outside in sheds or garages.

Tips & Warnings

Other chemicals also give off colors, such as borax (light green), alum (green) and magnesium sulfate (white).
Keep a fire extinguisher on hand when melting wax in case of an emergency situation.
Never heat wax directly in single pot; candle wax is highly flammable and a double-boiler method is necessary to ensure safety.


Article Written By Abaigeal Quinn

Abaigeal Quinn works as an international entertainment broker in the United States. She is a former news editor and insurance agent who began writing for a daily newspaper in 1995.

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