Christmas Crafts: Pine Cone Fire Starters

Ah, the lowly pine cone. My gated community is covered with them on a weekly basis thanks to some towering pines. At mid-week, the  gardeners sweep in and literally sweep them all up.

I learned quickly that if I wanted to make pine cone fire starters that I had to swoop in before the gardeners arrive on Wednesdays.

Appreciated Home-Crafted Gift

Pine cones are pretty good fire starters just as they fall from the trees. When treated according to this recipe, they turn into Pine Cone Fire Starters, an amazing gift appreciated by all.

So if you want something fragrant and organic to give as a give or to use in your fireplace as a fire starter instead of those expensive chemically-treated fire starter logs from the store, try this home craft idea.

Items Needed

1. dry pine cones
2. paraffin or wax
3. cotton twine or wicks
4. double boiler
5. waxed paper or non-stick foil

Optional Items Needed

If you use any of the options to kick it up another notch, then you might need this: essential oil of your choice, old Crayons, and/or salt of some kind. Instructions at the end.


1. Get pine cones. If you don't have them available in your yard or a neighbor's, just ask some of your friends. They'll probably be delighted to let you gather all you want from their yards. If the pine cones are damp or they're compacted--meaning not opened up--they haven't been on the ground long enough to dry out. All you have to do is place them on a foil-covered cookie sheet in a 150 degree oven for 1 hour. This will dry them if wet and will open them up if compacted. Don't leave the house with the oven on because as with anything flammable like wood or pine cones, even in a very low oven, there is a possibility of fire.

2. In a double boiler (or a metal bowl resting in a bigger pot of water), melt enough wax or paraffin to coat the pine cones. You can get candle wax or paraffin in a craft store. If you plan ahead, you can save candle stubs throughout the year for this purpose.

Note: Buy an old double boiler at a charity thrift store for this purpose. You'll find it useful for many home crafts.

3. Take about a foot of cotton twine or candle wick and wrapped around each pine cone from the base up to the top, leaving a short wick at the top.

4. When the wax has completely melted, grasp a pine cone with tongs and dip into the wax. Coat thoroughly. Hold over the pot and let the excess drip back into the pot. Then place the cones on sheets of waxed paper or non-stick foil to dry.

5. Let them cool and harden about 2 hours on the waxed paper. Then place them in the bag, bucket, or basket that you plan to use for the gift.

6. Create a gift tag containing these instructions on how to use the fire starters: "Just place in your fireplace beneath some kindling or on top of some crumpled paper placed on your wood stack and light the wick."


Scented: If you want to scent the pine cones, use a few drops of essential oil. Cinnamon or rosemary is nice. About 1/2 teaspoon per quart of melted wax is usually sufficient.

Colored: If you want to color the wax, just drop some old crayons into the wax and let them melt.

Create Colored Flames: After coating the pine cones in wax, roll in some kind of salt. Table salt produces a yellow flame. Salt substitute which is potassium produces a violet flame. Epsom salts which is magnesium produces a white flame. You can also use borax found in the laundry detergent section of the store. Borax creates a yellow green flame.

Takeaway Truth

Home-crafted Pine Cone Fire Starters are guaranteed to start the fire and please whoever receives a basket of them as a gift.

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