Pine Cone Fire Starters

I don’t know about you, but when I look into my front or back yard there are A LOT of pine cones.

I pick them up all up and then the next day new ones have fallen. I guess that makes my trees healthy or something, but for me they are an opportunity for some fun projects, and also slightly annoying.

We have recently gotten a couple of cords of wood and have added a nice fire pit area to the back porch next to our giant Jenga and Tiki Toss game. http://bevanfarm.com/diy-giant-jenga-game/

So, naturally I wanted to play with fire and didn’t want to have to buy fire starters with all of the synthetic products from the store.

Thus, my pine cone fire starter idea was born.

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After a bit of googling, I found lots of other sites with ideas and beautiful pictures. Martha Stewart adds salt (Epsom or other large crystal salt) to her pine cones so that they look frosted for winter. https://www.marthastewart.com/867096/pinecone-fire-starter

But, that look was a little too fancy for me. I did get a little excited when the page said that different salts burn different colors, as that would make a fun science experiment for the kids, but that was too fancy for me.

I had my girls pick out some colors of crayons that they wanted to melt in order to color our pine cones and then I found a box of paraffin wax from the time that I was going to try to give myself a fancy pedicure.

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While the girls were picking out crayons and taking off the labels, I went outside and laid out some of the pine cones I had collected in order for them to dry out in our Texas sun. Those of you from colder climates or if you really want to open up your pine cones, you can spread out the pine cones on a foil-lined baking sheet at 150 degrees for about 1 hour. The heat/lack of moisture opens up each cone scale and makes your pine cone a nicer shape.

Fun fact: Pine cones close up with moisture because, if wet, their cone scales cannot break off and spread out the seeds as well as when they are dry.

When the pine cones had laid out for awhile and were opened up enough for my liking, I had my daughters each pick out some that they wanted to help dip. Honestly, pine cones smaller than your hand work best as they fit better in the dipping pot. I learned that the hard way.

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I set up a double boiler system with a fry pan and a small pot. I filled the small fry pan with water and then placed the wax into the pot and waited for it to melt. Once the wax was mostly melted I added the crayons for color. We used about 8 crayons for the 1 lb of wax, but you could add more for even deeper coloring. You can also add a few drops of essential oil to add a nice additional smell for when the pine cones are burning. I added 5 drops of Pine essential oil to mine!

Next we had to set up our station inside for creating the “wick” and then dipping each pine cone.

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Next, we measured, cut, tied and threaded the string/wick onto each pine cone. The string should be approximately twice the height of the pine cone or 12 inches would work for most pine cones.

Once you cut each string, fold them in half and then tie a loop on the folded end.

When the string is ready, place and hold the loop at the top of the pine cone and “thread” the string around the cone working your way down. The two ends need to be threaded in opposite directions so that they cross over at least once. The picture above does not have the string close enough to the central stem so the string was visible once they were dipped. I figured out my system on later on about correctly feeding the wick in between the cone sales and then wrapping the string multiple times around.

Once your pine cones have wicks tied around them, then you are ready to dip them in the wax!

After dipping, I placed my cones on a baking dryer rack with foil underneath to catch the wax drippings.

Don’t be discouraged if your pine cones don’t look that colored or covered after one dipping. It took me 3 – 4 times to get my cones looking the way I wanted.

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Also, you may need to use a wooden spoon to ladle the wax over certain parts of your pine cones in order to cover every part of them. I also ended up just dunking my entire pine cone in the wax and then using the spoon to spin them around and take them out of the wax.

We made about 13 decently covered pine cones with my 1 lb of wax, but if you wanted them very heavily coated you should only expect to do about 9 large or 12 smaller pine cones.

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Once I was finished with the pine cones, there was a little bit of wax left in the pot that I could no longer ladle on top of any pine cone. So I scraped off all of the dried wax drippings and added them to the pot as well.

Those drippings plus the leftover wax was perfect to make more fire starters!

I cut a toilet paper roll into 4 sections, stuffed them with dryer lint and then placed them on the cardboard from my wax packaging. After that, I poured the remaining wax on top of each of them and let them dry.

These fire starters will not burn as hot or long as the pine cones, but they will still start a fire!

I don’t have a cricut, but I know that a lot of crafty people do. There are plenty of ideas for fun messages that you can add to the top of your fire starters so that you can give them away as gifts.

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Recipe for Pine Cone Fire Starters

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Materials Needed

9-12 pine cones, smaller than your hand
1 lb paraffin or other melting wax
9-12 feet kite or candle wick string (1 ft per pine cone)
5 drops essential oil (OPTIONAL)
5 crayons or candle coloring liquid (OPTIONAL)
1 drying rack with foil underneath
1 double broiler or pan/pot combination

Steps to create your own

  • Dry out your pine cones (outside or in oven at 150 for 30min – 1 hr)
  • Create your double broiler system and begin melting wax.
  • While wax is melting cut and thread your string onto each pine cone.
  • Dip each pine cone into the wax and ladle additional wax where needed with a wooden spoon
  • Let the pine cone cool on a drying rack for at least 5 min. (15 preferred)
  • Re-dip each pine cone until they are coated to your liking (3 – 4 times)
  • Attach a gift tag and deliver to lucky people!

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Each pine cone will burn for about 5 – 10 minutes and should be enough to start your fire.

Please let me know if you enjoyed making your pine cone fire starters or if you have any questions!

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