Ear to the Ground: The Insider Dirt to Gardening in Upstate NY

Pinecone Fire Starters

by cathym on November 16, 2017

by Cathy Monrad

Every December for the past ten years, a family friend has given us a lovely evergreen wreath for our front door. When February rolls around and the wreath has seen better days, I recycle the greens and stash away the pinecone decorations for crafting. Online, I found an easy and inexpensive project idea using these salvaged adornments: pinecone fire starters.

Dried pinecones
Paraffin wax or broken candles
1–2 crayons in desired color (optional)
Epson salts (optional)
Wick or twine cut to 4-inch lengths

Double boiler made from tin can and pot filled with water
Wooden skewer
Large cookie sheet lined with waxed paper


1. Tie wick or twine to top of pinecone with a knot.

2. Melt paraffin wax or candle pieces and crayon, if desired, in tin can double boiler. Stir with skewer until mixed.

3. Remove double boiler from heat and place next to cookie sheet. Let wax cool for about five minutes until it thickens slightly.

4. Grasp wick between fingers and carefully submerge pinecone completely into melted wax.

5. Hold dipped pinecone over tin can for a few seconds until dripping stops, then place on cookie sheet. Let pinecone dry for 30–60 seconds.

6. Repeat steps five and six about five to ten times until pinecone is nicely coated. If the melted wax starts to solidify too much, place double boiler back on heat until wax thins a bit.

7. If desired, sprinkle Epsom salts on the last coat of wax immediately after placing on cookie sheet.

8. Let dry completely for 24 hours.

9. To use the fire starter, nestle it between logs in your fireplace. Light the wick and enjoy!


– The pinecones must be completely dry and bug-free. The Internet has instructions for drying pinecones in an oven. Cinnamon scented pinecones purchased from a craft store would work as well.

– I purchased tapered candles from a discount store, then removed and used the wicks for step one. I melted six candles to make 12 fire starters.

– Using paraffin wax will result in a transparent look; add a white crayon to make opaque wax.

– One crayon is sufficient to color the wax.

– Epson salts add a little “frost” to the fire starter and will create a white flame when burned.


Cathy Monrad is the graphic designer and the selfproclaimed garden crafter for the Upstate Gardeners’ Journal.

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