Make Pine Cone Fire Starters With Laundry Supplies

Green and gray pinecone fire starters in wicker basket by fireplace

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Pine cone fire starters are the perfect gift for someone who enjoys a colorful fire whether sitting around the campfire or in the living room fireplace. Easy enough for kids to make (with a little adult supervision); they can be packaged in a great basket for an inexpensive gift.

The pine cones are first soaked in common household solutions like salt and borax and then coated with clear candle wax. When added to kindling in the fireplace or fire pit, they ignite quickly for an easy start and then give off non-toxic, colorful flames. The color of the flame depends on the soaking solution.

How to Make Pine Cone Fire Starters

Start by gathering pine cones and allow them to dry completely. Most neighborhoods and parks will be happy to have you pick up those that have fallen but always ask first. If you don't have access to free pine cones, you can always buy some at the craft store or online from Amazon.

Assemble the rest of your supplies:

  1. Clear candle wax or paraffin
  2. Candle wax dye colors or broken crayons
  3. Tall metal can and metal tongs
  4. Foil-lined baking sheet

Flame color additives:

  1. Table salt (creates bright yellow flames)
  2. Borax (creates bright yellow-green flames)
  3. Salt Substitute with Potassium (creates violet flames)
  4. Epsom Salts (creates pure white flames)
Materials and tools to make a pinecone fire starter

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Pine Cone Fire Starter Directions

If you want to create colorful flames, fill a plastic bucket or tub with two quarts hot water. Add one cup of your chosen additive (do not mix additives). Soak the pine cones for eight hours. Remove and allow to dry completely.

To create the wax coating, melt the clear candle wax in a double boiler and add the desired candle dye color or crayons to create colored wax. I like to add the color that will correspond with the final flame colors. 

Pour the wax into the tall metal can, leaving plenty of head space to prevent overflowing. Use the metal tongs and dip each pine cone into the melted wax until completely covered. Place on the foil-lined baking sheet to dry. 

Bundle together and place in a basket for gift-giving. Include a card, if you'd like, with a legend on flame colors and how to use.

Plastic bucket filled with water with pinecones soaking in color additive

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Clear wax melted in glass pot on a double broiler

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Metal tongs picking up pinecones covered in colored wax

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Wicker basket filled with gray and green fire starter pinecones

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

More Crafts With Laundry Borax

If you enjoyed making the pine cone fire starters, try your hand at making borax crystal snowflakes or saving special blossoms by drying them with borax.