Jan 6, 2012

DIY Colored Fireplace Pinecones

Most people like to sit by the fire to watch the flames dance. I remember doing that when I was young, and my grandfather managed to AWE & SHOCK me when he threw in a pinecone, it burned true yellow, and then he threw in another one and it burned yellow-green!!! Being intrigued, I asked where he got them. He made them, and then he spent two days teaching me how he did it. Recently I thought about it, so I decided see what other suggestions were out there.

Plow & Hearth
They are for sale in stores and online. Plow & Hearth has them for $40 for a 5 lbs. bag, Amazon has them for $20 for a 2.5 lbs. bag, and a lot of craft stores have them too. But in living near a lot of county park trails, and remembering what I was taught, I sought more information about making them myself, to not spend so much money. By walking Dozer in the woods and taking a bag with me, I collect as many pinecones as I can carry for free. I just need to have the right things in the pantry to add the color.

While I remembered that my grandfather used table salt for the yellow and Borax for the yellow green, a little more research shared some other household things that will create more colors. The best site I found (About.com/Chemistry) had a great table. I edited it a little to only include things you can get at a local store, which I summarized from Make-Stuff.com.

Color ChemicalWhere Found
Red Strontium Chloride or 
Strontium Nitrate
Found with aquarium supplies in pet stores
Orange Calcium Chloride Rock salt, to melt ice on roads & driveways.
Yellow Sodium ChlorideTable salt
Yellowish Green BoraxLook in laundry detergent section.
Green Copper SulfateLook for it in swimming pool supplies
Purple Potassium Chloride Is a salt substitute & found in the spice section
White Magnesium Sulfate Epsom Salts

Now your question is "what do I have to DO to make them?" Like all of the other recipes that I've posted, I will give you the ingredients, instructions, and tips. I found the best site to share with you, Birds & Blooms. I copied & pasted their info below, but check out their site too.
Prep Your Pinecones: (If you use plain pinecones purchased at a craft store, skip this step.) If you’ve gathered pinecones from the great outdoors, bake them in a 200 F oven for 1 hour to remove bugs and open up closed cones. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil first, as sap will drain from the cones. Allow them to cool.
  • Large bucket
  • Tongs or slotted spoon
  • Flame colorant – choose one of the following from above, depending on the color flame you prefer
The Process:
  • Pour 1/2 gallon of hot water into the bucket.
  • Add 1 cup of the colorant of your choice, and stir until dissolved.
  • Add pinecones to the mix. Be sure to add only as many as can be completely covered by the solution. Soak for 8 hours or overnight.
  • Remove the pinecones and set on newspapers to dry completely – at least 3 days.
It enthralls the kids, and gives you romantic people something to watch, but I do have some tips.

      Do NOT use in a gas fueled fireplace, especially an enclosed one
      ✔ Do NOT use on a fire or BBQ where you will be cooking
      ✔ Do NOT keep the chemicals in touch with the kids
      Burn only one color at one time, mixing the chemistry changes
           things dramatically

But, when kicking back in front of the fireplace, fire bowl, or even campfire, it can help enhance the experience that everyone can enjoy...burn on...


  1. Chemistry AND fire? Awesome!

  2. Yes, it is. I'm in the middle of another experiment combining the two as well...