While browsing the Plow & Hearth website the other day, I came across these Color-Changing Fireplace Pinecones. When you toss one of these into your open fire, the flames will change color (the website says blues and greens) for a few minutes while the pinecone burns. While I thought it was a pretty cool idea, I was a little surprised by the price – nearly $40. I wondered if it was possible to make your own. A little web searching turned up a whole bunch of DIY versions of this project, which would make great holiday gifts for those on your list with fireplaces.
Prep Your Pinecones: (If you use pinecones you purchase at a craft store, you can skip this step.) If you’ve gathered pinecones from the great outdoors, you’ll need to bake them in a 200 degree oven for one 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, depending on the color flame you prefer (though most are common household chemicals, remember to keep out of the reach of children and pets):
- Yellow – Table Salt
- Yellow-Green – Borax
- White – Epsom Salts
- Green – Boric Acid
- Red – Strontium Chloride (found with aquarium supplies in pet stores)
- 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.
Now your pinecones are ready to burn! Simply add them (one at a time) to your fireplace and watch the colors appear.
- You can make several batches of different colors, but don’t mix the colors in a single batch. Burn only one color of pinecone at a time.
- Do not use colored pinecones on cooking fires or BBQ grills.
- Always use common sense and caution with open flames.
Have you ever made your own color-changing pine cones? What tips would you offer to others who attempt this project? Tell us in the comments below!