Light My Fire: How to Make Scented Pine Cone Fire Starters

When I was shopping for a home some years ago in a land of cramped new subdivisions, one of my criteria was to find a house with a big yard and lots of mature trees. I found what I was looking for, and I love being tucked away among plenty of forestry, but I hadn’t considered one thing. Pine cones. My yard is lousy with the things, and I spend more time picking them up than I care to think about. Eventually, the pine cone crafts wear thin, but I have found one use for them that pays off year after year.

Pine cones are great for getting a fire started. They’re pretty good on their own, but dipped in candle wax or paraffin, they are so good it almost makes it worth the time spent clearing the yard. They catch the flame quickly and burn hot, even and steady for use in fireplaces, wood-burning stoves or bonfires.

Preparing these delightful little firebombs for service is easy, and after using different colors of  wax and adding essential oils, fire-starting pine cones aren’t just super handy, they also look great perched by the fireplace and smell spectacular.

If you are overrun by falling pine cones this time of year, start preparing for colder months ahead with these surprisingly simple step-by-step instructions.

And if you don’t have a yard full of pine cones, ask someone who does. I’d wager they’ll be happy for a little help clearing out the back forty.

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Step 1

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Gather pine cones from your yard, your neighbor’s yard or other green space. Most will be ready for use without any further preparation. If pine cones are damp or compact, they can be dried in an oven set to 150 degrees for an hour to remove moisture and open the petals (keep a close eye on them for reasons of fire safety).

Step 2

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In a double boiler or a metal bowl resting in a pot of water, melt enough wax or paraffin to coat your pine cones. Candle wax or paraffin can be found in many craft stores, or old candle stubs can also be used. For scented pine cones, essential oils like cinnamon or eucalyptus can be added at this time. Use approximately ½ teaspoon essential oil per quart of melted wax, adjusting as desired.

Step 3

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Once wax has completely melted, use tongs to dip pine cones in one at a time, turning to thoroughly coat.

Step 4

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Once pine cone is completely coated, lift from wax and allow excess to drip off the back into the bowl before drying.

Step 5

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Drop some old crayons into the wax to add some color.

Step 6

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Place pine cones on waxed paper to dry. Let them rest undisturbed for 90 minutes to 2 hours before transferring to a basket, bag or bucket to store.

Step 7

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Waxed pine cones look and smell fantastic and lighting a fire on a cold winter’s night has never been so easy. Fire-starting pine cones also make a fun and crafty gift presented in an attractive basket or packed into large decorative jars. Share the warmth!

Materials

  • Pine Cones
  • Candle wax or paraffin
  • Essential oils (optional)

Tools

  • Double boiler or metal bowl and pot of comparable size
  • Wire rack or waxed paper
About Mick Telkamp 

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A former Midwesterner living in North Carolina, I write about my adventures in backyard chicken-keeping and suburban homesteading over at HGTVGardens, and my exploits in the culture of Southern cooking ...

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11 Responses

  1. Luna says:

    Missie..It's kinda hard to say exact. Some pinecones are bigger than others, So they take more wax…I double dip mine, so I use alot of wax.. About a pound of wax for 7 of the HUGE Sugar pine cones..Just guesstimate..Good Luck

  2. Lisa says:

    These are meant to go on top of the paper and kindling…IF You put salt on the wet wax? It gives it a spakly look and the fire sparks too its cool.

  3. Missie says:

    What is the wax to cone ratio? i.e. How much wax would be needed per pound (16 oz) of pine cones?

  4. Katie says:

    These don't need some kind of wick?

  5. Heidi says:

    I'm worried about the wax in my wood stove. My wood stove has the burning chamber on top and a baking chamber on the bottom. Will it just burn off?

  6. Karen says:

    I did this one year. Then I added my waxed and scented pinecones to a simple wreath form that I created and added dried hydrangeas that I picked from my yard. When Hydrangea's are dried, they still hold their color. It was a wonderful and beautiful Christmas gift that didn't cost me anything but a little time.

  7. liz says:

    what if you add scented oil to the wax

  8. Mimi says:

    Love this recipe for a fall scent!

  9. amy says:

    You can copy and paste into a word document, Then print

  10. l newman says:

    How do I download or print these instructions???

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