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How to Make Pine Cone Fire Starters - Fun Crafts

Updated on June 25, 2013
Pinecone Fire Starters
Pinecone Fire Starters | Source

Have you ever used pinecone fire starters?

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Design Your Own Pine Cone Fire Starters

The cold of winter is approaching. You know that nothing truly warms the spirit until you have a roaring fire going in the wood stove or fireplace.

Indeed, one of my favorite parts of the wintry season is getting a blazing fire in my own wood stove. Then, after I'm warm all over, I can cook on it, make homemade simmers of spices and use my fire starters.

If you regularly have to light a fire in the wintertime, you know that sometimes it can be a hit or miss proposition. Sometimes your kindling gets wet, or you don’t have much to work with. Other times, you get the fire going but it stubbornly goes out.

You can solve that problem with pine cone fire starters. Until recently I had not used these, but now, I’m poised to make these all winter long.

The wax covering helps them to burn slowly and they give off a heavenly scent that can only be associated with cozy fires and a rich musky aroma of pine. They burn hot - with blue flames - are so well suited to starting fires that if one doesn’t crop up after using one of these fire starters, you’ve either got wood that’s too wet or somehow you’re missing the “fire starting” gene.

This craft is not too hard to make and you can use materials from around the house, for the most part. You might need to go out and get the beeswax, but other than that, your materials should be readily available.

I love the fact that these are completely eco-friendly and the materials are biodegradable and don’t have harmful chemicals in them, at least that I know of (except you do want to be careful with the cinnamon oil until it's dissolved in the wax). It’s a great craft and they make great gifts for people who own fireplaces and wood stoves.

© C. Calhoun 2012. All rights reserved.

These start fires beautifully!
These start fires beautifully! | Source
You don't need too many ingredients to make fire starters.
You don't need too many ingredients to make fire starters. | Source

What You’ll Need:

  • 8-10 pine cones, with any debris brushed off
  • Newspaper
  • Waxed paper
  • Large coffee can, cleaned and dry
  • Large pot
  • 1 lb. beeswax
  • 2-3 crayons in the color of your choice, with the paper wrap peeled off
  • 20 drops cinnamon essential oil
  • Tongs or a potato masher works well if you don’t have tongs
  • Large spoon

Click thumbnail to view full-size
First coat of wax applied and the pine cones are drying on the wax paper.Put the wax into a large coffee can and, in turn, put the coffee can in a large pot.  Fill it two inches deep.  Melt the wax in the coffee pot over medium-high heat.Add the pieces of crayon.  Remember, the melted wax will look a few shades darker than the dried wax.
First coat of wax applied and the pine cones are drying on the wax paper.
First coat of wax applied and the pine cones are drying on the wax paper. | Source
Put the wax into a large coffee can and, in turn, put the coffee can in a large pot.  Fill it two inches deep.
Put the wax into a large coffee can and, in turn, put the coffee can in a large pot. Fill it two inches deep. | Source
Melt the wax in the coffee pot over medium-high heat.
Melt the wax in the coffee pot over medium-high heat. | Source
Add the pieces of crayon.  Remember, the melted wax will look a few shades darker than the dried wax.
Add the pieces of crayon. Remember, the melted wax will look a few shades darker than the dried wax. | Source

Other tips:

  • Make sure the pine cones are nice and dry before you use them.
  • You’re using heat from a stove, boiling water and hot wax – take care not to burn yourself.
  • When starting a fire: place a pine cone near some crumpled paper and light the paper. The paper will really help to get the pine cone lit better than holding a lighter or match to it. The wax will take awhile to light up, but once it does, it will burn nice and slowly, crackling at times, but allowing ample time for kindling and larger pieces of wood to catch fire.

Instructions:

1. Cover your work area with newspaper. Then, cover it with wax paper. You’ll want this work area fairly close to where you’ll be heating the wax (not not directly on the stove!) so that you can easily transfer the pinecones to the wax paper.

2. Put the block of wax into the coffee can.

3. Put the coffee can in the large pot. Fill the pot with about 2 inches of water. You don’t want too much because the coffee can might float and this can be unsafe.

4. Heat the water (with the coffee can containing the wax) over medium-high heat. As the water boils, it will melt the wax completely, taking about 20-25 minutes.

5. When the wax has melted, break the crayons into little chunks and carefully put them into the wax. Keep adding pieces until you get the color you want. Keep in mind that the final wax color will be lighter than what it looks like melted. (See my examples.) Add the cinnamon essential oil (do not touch the oil with your bare skin – it will burn! Wash any oil off immediately with plenty of water if you get it on yourself).

6. Once all the wax is melted, turn the heat to low. Lower one pine cone into the wax and either use the tongs or a spoon to move the pine cone around in the pan to coat it. Use the tongs or spoon, in conjunction with the potato masher, to lift the pine cone out, but don’t shake off excess wax. Just place the pine cone on the waxed paper to dry. Do this for all of your pine cones.

7. Turn the heat off. Beginning with the first pine cone you dipped into the wax (it should be cool at this point), dip it into the wax again. The wax in the pan will be cooler and will coat the pine cone more thickly. Place back onto the waxed paper.

8. Repeat with the rest of the pinecones, making sure that they’re rather cool and dry before dipping them back into the wax. This will help the second coat to solidify and be thicker than the first coat.

9. Let the pine cones dry completely before handling them. Once they are try, transfer them to a nice basket or ceramic dish to store them. You can touch them with your bare skin, as well, because the cinnamon oil will be dissolved in the wax.

10. Don’t store your fire starters too close to a heat source. They are fire starters after all.

The second coating of wax goes on really thick.  You can see the pink tint - I aimed for a autumn-colored hue on this batch of pine cones.
The second coating of wax goes on really thick. You can see the pink tint - I aimed for a autumn-colored hue on this batch of pine cones. | Source

Use as Gifts!

Try using other colors and essential oils to make a variety of pine cone fire starters. Peppermint, lavender, fir needle, musk, sandalwood, and orange are all good choices.

When you prepare the pine cones as a gift, place them in a nice basket, use a pretty ribbon, and add other small gifts such as incense, matches in colorful boxes, or even candles.

Comments

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      No doubt about it, they work great. I've been doing this for years. Great hub Cyndi; must be another HOTD!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I feel badly that we have a gas fireplace. This sounds great and you did a fine job. Voted UP.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Cyndi, what a wonderful idea here and a great hub. This is very detailed and well-written dear one. Thanks for sharing your knowledge about the pinecone fire starters. Voted Way Up In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Haha, BB, I just recently learned about these. Whoa! THEY ARE SO COOL!! I wrote a wacky blog post about how easily amused I am by these, LOL.

      Carol7777 - RATS! Gas fireplace. Hehe, well, but you DO have a heat source, so we're thankful for that. :)Thank you so much for coming by!

      Faith Reaper - aww, thank you. :) These are such fun crafts and so useful! I appreciate your feedback. Hubhugs!

    • profile image

      IntegrityYes 4 years ago

      That is another fantastic one and I voted way up!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      IntegrityYes - hey there! Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate the votes. :)

    • Healthy Pursuits profile image

      Karla Iverson 4 years ago from Oregon

      Speaking as someone who is definitely missing the fire starter gene (I'll bet that one of my ancestors invented sushi from sheer desperation!), this is a great idea! And so cheap for quick Christmas gifts.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      This is such a creative, useful gift idea! Bookmarking.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      Seriously, cyndi did not know about it, until now...thank you!!

      Got to try it and it will be a good learning experience for my kid as well.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      What a novel idea! I can see where these would be great Christmas gifts for family and friends with fire places. Easy to make. We have tons of these around the parks and it would be a great project for kids to do this fall. Voted up and pinned.

    • Farmer Rachel profile image

      Rachel Koski 4 years ago from Minnesota

      Hey, great idea!! Why didn't I think of that? ;) I'm going to have to try this. Do you think that there's resin in the pine cones (like in the wood?) Probably not a big deal, even if there is, since you'd only be burning a small amount. Plus it would encourage me to clean my chimney more often :) Voted up and more!

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      very creative and you shared some wonderful ideas.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 4 years ago from West Virginia

      CC, what a creative idea! I would have never thought about this. We have a lot of pine trees here in West Virginia. I see pine cones everywhere. Will certainly try this with the kids. Voted up and all across but funny. Shared also.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Healthy Pursuits - lol, I had wondered if I was missing that gene, but with the pinecones, my faith in my DNA is restored. ;-) These make AWESOME gifts!

      Randomcreative - thanks for stopping by! I can see it now: Randomcreative Pine Cone Gifts. Hehe.

      Ruchira - Thank you for your sweet reply! Big hubhugs to you! It'll be fun to have your kiddo go out and find all the pinecones, hehe.

      Teaches - They are easy to make. They are fun, too! Yeah, anyone with a fireplace will thank you. In fact, I'm going to make some of these for my parents this year. :)

      Farmer Rachel - lol, I don't think the resin will be so much that it increases the creosote level in the fireplace/wood stove any more than the regular wood would. :) But, knowing you and your wood-chopping hubs, I KNOW you'll get a kick out of this!

      Unknown Spy - Thank you for stopping by! Cheers!

      Lyricwriter - hey there! Yeah, all the pine cones are fun to collect - especially for the kiddos. Then making them is fun, too. I expect to see a hub about pine and pine cone tattoos, too. :-)

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I'm assuming that cinnamon oil is non-toxic, so this would be a great craft to do with kids. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Alocsin - actually, you really want to be careful about pure cinnamon essential oil - it will burn the skin if it isn't dissolved in any thing else. Lucky for these pine cone starters, the cinnamon oil gets dissolved in the wax and is then safe to handle. Thanks for stopping by! Cheers!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      I've always seen these at craft fairs but never bought them. I think I'm going to give this a try. Interesting and up!

    • Shesabutterfly profile image

      Cholee Clay 4 years ago from Wisconsin

      This is a very interesting and useful hub! I have never seen or heard about these fire starters. These fire starters would be especially good for camping as well. I know they definitely would have helped us out a couple weeks ago when we couldn't find any dry kindling. Voted up and useful!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      An excellent plan, Cyndy. Great gifts is right. Wish I had a woodstove here.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Glimmer Twin Fan - Yay! They are so cool! I hope you try them.

      Shesabutterfly - We've already thought that we need these to go camping next time. They really are great at getting fires started. We started a fire last night and were just mesmerized at how awesome they get a fire going.

      Aviannovice - Aw, man, I wish you had a wood stove, too. :) They really are so cool...I can't live without mine. If we ever move, it's coming with me, lol. Thanks for coming by!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Now you are making me wish I had a fireplace. These are so awesome! They would make great gifts. I am sold on the cinnamon scent. This is excellent!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I did this when I was a kid! They made great Christmas presents and decorations. I would make them in both green and red and then make up a basket as a gift. I was just thinking about this the other day and wondering if anyone else made fire starters this way. I guess so!

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 4 years ago from New Jersey

      This is an awesome idea. I think it will make great gifts for the holiday season. Thank you for sharing.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Tammy - haha, I love fires, wood stoves and fire starters - the whole package. Hehe. Thank you for stopping by! I can smell the cinnamon now!

      Natashalh - hey there! Haven't seen you in awhile. Welcome back. :) That's awesome that you made them in different colors. Cool!

      StephanieBCrosby - they definitely will make great gifts. When you start your first fire with them, you'll never want to be without these - they really do work so well. :)

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 4 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      A great write and easy crafts that are natural and inexpensive.

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 4 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      Thank you for the detailed directions. I plan to make a few firestarters as Christmas presents for my mom this year. I am finding so many uses for pinecones lately. I am hoping to find a smaller amount of beeswax to do a smaller batch though. Very nice hub.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Fiddleman - they are so cool to watch when they get a fire going too. :)

      Bridalletter - That's awesome! You know, 1 lb of beeswax will yield about 7-8 pinecones, depending on the size. :)

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 4 years ago from California

      Yep, this is another great article. I live in a house that is incredibly cold - I fire must be going. Adding some fun and pleasant aromas to the fire starting is a fantastic idea. You have a new follower. I look forward to seeing more of what you read!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Robert - hey there! I live in a house that's cold, too. So these fire starters are perfect for getting a fire going quickly and efficiently and getting everything warmer, faster. :) They smell heavenly, too.

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you for this excellent, creative idea. Will try this when I have my own fireplace. Beautiful. Voted up beautiful and sharing!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Livingsta - ah, thank you. :) The scent of the cinnamon alone (or other scents) is so worth it. :)

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Great Christmas gift to anyone with a fireplace. I loved it-easy to follow instructions. Up and across/sharing.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Denise - cheers to you, friend! These are such fun to make. :) Have a wonderful day.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      This would make an awesome Christmas gift for someone with a fireplace. I will keep this in mind toward the end of the year! I know one person I could make this for, and he wouldn't expect it. I have seen these types of things at the store, and it would be so cool to actually make it.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      Kathryn - hehe, the scent is HEAVENLY. These little things actually MAKE me look forward to winter, hehe. Thank you so much for stopping by. ;)

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 3 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      Great idea! I definitely prefer a wood-lit roaring fire over a gas log setup. And the thought of using pine cones never crossed my mind. Are there any issues with by-product build-up in the chimney flue overtime? - Voted up for fun and interesting. ; )

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      Thanks for the fun and great ideas. Useful indeed. Up and interesting.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      Thanks for the fun and great ideas. Useful indeed. Up and interesting.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 3 years ago from Western NC

      Midnightbliss - yes, indeed! Haha. As far as my own experience goes, I haven't had any build up and I use these frequently. Of course, it's always a good idea to get your flue periodically checked - for regular buildup anyway - that creosote stuff can be dangerous. Thanks for coming by!

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 3 years ago from Western NC

      Torrilynn - thank you so much! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. :)

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 2 years ago

      I have a firepit in my backyard and I thought wouldn't be nice to watch the fire and smell something besides smoke. Then I came across your hub perfect timing. What a great idea.

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 2 years ago from Western NC

      Dream On: yes! They really make a campfire exquisite - I swear. :)

      And in the winter - omigosh, the whole house gets filled with the scent, if you use scented wax.

      Thanks so much for coming by!

    • profile image

      aswasson 2 years ago

      Silly question, how do you light them? I've only seen these with wicks wrapped around them. Do you just holds the flame to a piece until the wax melts and out ignites?

    • cclitgirl profile image
      Author

      Cynthia Calhoun 2 years ago from Western NC

      aswasson - haha, good question. Just wrap a pine cone in some newspaper, light the newspaper and put it into the kindling. It'll soon light itself on fire and ignite the kindling...releasing a lovely scent. It's almost foolproof...almost. :)

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