Making a pinecone fire starter is a fun and easy project that anyone can do. In fact, if you were a girl scout, boy scout or went to summer camp you probably made a few over a campfire.
Why are they so popular?
They're easy to make and they work perfect for lighting a fire in a wood stove or fireplace. Plus if you add a little coloring and package them in a decorative way they make great gifts.
To begin you need a few basic ingredients:
First, you need an old candle or some paraffin wax.
Second, you need some string.
Finally you'll need a way to melt the wax. A double boiler works great, but you can also use a sauce pan to slowly melt the wax using your stove......and of corse pinecones!
We used an old candle we had laying around for the wax. If you don't have a candle you can purchase soy wax or paraffin wax from your local department store.
If you don't have access to a double boiler you can simply use a saucepan and a coffee can. Fill the saucepan about 1/4 full with water and sit the coffee can inside the pan......an easy homemade double boiler!
Or if you have an old saucepan that you no longer use, just put the wax inside the pan and heat it up on a low temperature. Then, when you're done you can just reuse the pan for future projects.
You can use any type of pinecone but pinecones from a white pine don't work as well because they're elongated and don't have the pronounced ridges like other pinecones do.
Choose a pinecone that's relatively round because those look the best and they're easier to dip into the wax.
Also, if you find a pinecone outside that's closed up without the open ridges, just bring it inside and let it dry out for a couple of days. Once dry it will open up making it the perfect pinecone for this project.
Start by taking string and wrap the pinecone from the bottom up. Make 3-4 wraps around the pinecone and leave about 6-8 inches of string at the top to hold onto when dipping it in the wax.
The string serves as a homemade wick and you can light the pinecone just like a candle when you're ready to use it.
Using a low temperature on your stove, allow the wax to fully melt. The temperature of the wax makes a big difference. If the wax is too hot it's difficult to build up a nice layer of wax on the pinecone because it will just drip off.
A somewhat cooler wax will stick to the pinecone better. However, don't let the wax get too cool or it will form a skim layer over the top inside your pan.
I've found that a wax temperature between 145-170 degrees works the best.
Once the wax is melted you're ready to dip the pinecone. For safety reasons, it's best to use tongs to hold onto the string when dipping the pinecone into the wax but if you're careful you can just hold onto the string with your hands.
After dipping the cone allow the wax to dry for about 45 seconds before dipping it again. To protect your countertops from dripping wax, just place a layer of wax paper down and you can set the pinecones on that until they dry.
Repeat this process 3-4 times depending on how much wax you want on the pinecone.
That's it....you're done! A pinecone fire starter works great for starting a campfire or simply lighting a morning fire inside your wood stove or fireplace.
Each pine cone will burn for around 5 minutes which is plenty of time to start a hot fire. To use one simply place it underneath the wood and light the wick.
To color the wax use old crayons or dye blocks. If you try to use food coloring it will just sink to the bottom of the wax and it won't mix in.
Wax dye works better than crayons because it takes a lot of crayons to change the color of the wax, but if you have a bunch of old crayons laying around they will work just fine.
To make the pinecones even more decorative, take some Jute string and some construction paper and make a tag using a stamp. You can also add liquid scent to the wax for a scented fire starter. It works great and your finished project will smell amazing!
Remember, hot wax is extremely dangerous. Use caution and protective equipment when you're doing this project.
Also, make sure you turn off your stovetop before dipping the pinecones into the hot wax. This will reduce the possibility of the dripping wax coming into contact with an open flame.