See how to make DIY pinecone fire starters with soy wax and essential oils! Scented pinecone fire lighters are a heartwarming gift idea for any season and an eco-friendly alternative to conventional fire accelerants. They come together quickly with natural, simple materials.
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DIY pinecone fire starter
Today, I have a fun craft project for you: natural pinecone fire starters! Pinecone fire starters make perfect holiday gifts and are so easy to create.
Along with soy wax, the cones are scented with a forest fresh essential oil blend for a natural fargarnce. I also sprinkled them with Epsom salt to create a gorgeous frosted look.
In winter, pinecone fire starters are a lovely way to start the fire in your fireplace or stove to keep warm on a chilly winter’s night. But they aren’t just a winter fare.
During summer, they can be used to start a camping fire or bonfire. Small pinecones are also a great way to get a charcoal grill going.
What are pinecone fire starters?
Pinecone firelighters are a natural, environment-friendly fire starter, intended to ignite the wood logs in a fireplace. The product is waxed and often has a wick for lighting. They can be colored and scented, too.
Materials and supplies
So, what exactly do you need to make this easy pinecone craft? Let’s take a look! Each material is natural, inexpensive, and easy to find.
- Pinecones: Use medium to large pinecones. Be sure they are dry and free of debris and dirt. You can buy pinecones or forage them. If foraging, read my tips on baking pinecones to get rid of sap and insects (see below).
- Candlewick helps to ignite the pinecones. You want an unwaxed cotton wick from a spool.
- Soy wax: We’ll be coating the pinecones in soy wax to ensure they burn. Any container candle soy wax will do. I used Golden Brand 464 wax flakes.
- Wax dye (optional): You can tint your pinecone fire starters in any color by adding wax dye. Without dye, the first starters appear white, which is beautiful as well.
- Essential oils (optional) can be used to infuse the wax with a scent. I used a simple blend of Scotch pine, sweet orange, and cinnamon bark.
- Epsom salt (optional): I frosted my homemade fire starter with Epsom salt for a frosted effect. Epsom salt will color the flame white. You can also sprinkle then pinecones with glitter as a decoration.
For the how-to-card with quantities and complete instructions, scroll to the bottom of the post.
- Saucepan to make a water bath.
- Large glass measuring jug to melt the wax.
- Spoon for stirring and coating the pinecones.
- Scissor to trim the wick.
- Baking sheet (tray) lined with parchment paper (baking paper) to dry the pinecones.
Essential oil blends for scented fire starters
For naturally scented pinecone fire starters, try one of these ideas:
- Christmas tree: 250 drops Scotch pine + 120 drops sweet orange + 65 drops cinnamon bark
- Snowy forest: 250 drops Scotch pine + 150 drops cedarwood + 50 drops peppermint
- Cozy hearth: 200 drops black spruce + 100 drops botanical vanilla extract + 50 drops cinnamon bark
Tips for colored pinecone fire starters
Colored pinecone fire starters are a fun way to create some variations. Soy wax is naturally opaque and will lighten up any wax color you add. Here are some tips:
- Pastel color: Creating pastel-colored pine cone fire starters is really easy. Add just a few drops of candle dye, and you’ll end up with beautifully light-colored cones.
- Saturated color: Achieving rich and saturated hues is a bit tricky as you will need to add a lot of wax dye.
- Candle dye: Only use dye that is intended for soy wax. I recommend liquid dye over flakes for this project. Crayons or food colors are not ideal.
- Adjust the color: Add the dye once the wax is completely melted. To check the color, pour a spoonful on a cold plate. The wax will cool instantly, allowing you to see what color it will be. If you’re satisfied with the saturation, dip your pinecones. If not, add more dye.
How to make pinecone fire starters
Making pinecone fire starters is as easy as can be! All you have to do is melt the wax, and then coat the pinecones. It’s perfect for whipping up as holiday gifts or winter wedding favors. Let’s go over each step!
Step 1: Prep
- Line a large baking sheet (tray) with parchment paper (baking paper) or aluminum foil. Set aside.
Step 2: Wick pinecones
- Using a piece of wick, create a loop and secure it to a scale at the bottom of your pinecone.
- Then wrap the wick around the cone moving up.
- When you reach the top, tie the wick around the topmost scale.
- Leave the wick at least an inch long to have a handle when dipping in wax.
Step 3: Melt wax
- Add the wax to a large glass measuring cup or wax melting pot.
- Fill a large saucepan with 1 in / 2.5 cm water and bring to a mild simmer over medium-low heat.
- Place the measuring cup in the water bath.
- Stirring occasionally, heat until the wax is melted.
- Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. You want the water just warm enough to keep the wax liquified.
Step 4: Scent and color wax (optional)
- Once the wax is liquid, stir in the essential oil and candle dye (if using.)
Step 5: Dip pinecones
- Holding the wick, carefully dip each pinecone into the hot wax until fully coated.
- Spoon warm wax over the top of the pinecone if you can’t fully submerge it.
Step 6: Set
- Put the waxed pinecones on the lined baking sheet (tray) and allow to set for 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 7: Second dip
- One coat of wax will be pretty thin. You can add a second and third layer for a thicker coating.
- Dip and cool the pinecones as described.
Step 8: Decorate (optional)
- While the wax is still warm, sprinkle the pinecone with Epsom salt to create frost.
Step 9: Shorten wick
- Trim the wick to 1/2 in / 1 cm. Your DIY fire starters are ready!
Tips for success
Are you excited to make DIY pinecone fire starters? I hope so, because it is a wonderful winter craft project! But, before you get going, let me share a couple of helpful tips with you!
- This project works best with open pinecones. If your pinecones are closed, bake them at a low temperature for 30 minutes (see the FAQ section for a quick how-to).
- Keep the wax at a low temperature. If the wax is too hot, it will melt off previous coats of wax. Ideally, you want to hold the wax at around 120°F / 50°C.
- Freezing the pinecones allows you to wax them in a single dip. If you have room in your freezer, I recommend freezing the pinecones for 1 hour before getting started. Frozen pinecones need just one dip to be well coated in wax.
- Use a hairdryer to rewarm the wax. In case the wax hardens before you have a chance to sprinkle it with salt or glitter, warm the wax by gently blowing your pinecone with a hairdryer or heat gun.
How to use pinecone firelighters
Wondering how to use your waxed pine cones? It’s easy! I’ll show you what to do:
- Place the pinecone fire starter on paper in the center of your firepit, grate, chiminea, or stove.
- Arrange dry kindling (e.g., wood chips, bark) against the cone forming a pyramid around the fire starter.
- Ignite the wick.
- Once the kindling is fully lit, add more kindling on top, followed by wood logs or another fuel type.
- Always be careful with fire!
- Please remember that pinecone fire starters aren’t candles and you should never use them as such.
- Never leave your pinecone unattended when lit.
- In an emergency, extinguish with fire extinguisher or a wet rag.
Gifting DIY fire starter
Homemade pinecone fire lighters make fantastic gifts! You can make them in large quantities and gift them as favors for a wedding or party. Or when you need inexpensive presents for a group of people and those who are hard to buy.
- Use twine to tie a printable gift tag around the wick. Download the tags below.
- Put the pinecones in a small paper bag or cardboard box for gifting to avoid wax getting rubbed off.
- Be sure to hand the printable instruction card along with your handmade gift.
Store your DIY pinecone fire starters in a dry, cool location like a lidded box or in a cupboard. Protect them from direct sunlight and any heat sources, so the wax doesn’t melt off.
Fire starter pinecones will last for up to 2 years. The scent usually begins to fade after 1 year.
Are pinecones good fire starters?
Yes, pinecones are great fire starters! They burn extremely well and get a good fire roaring without the need for chemicals or accelerants.
Can I use another type of wax?
Of course! If preferred, swap out soy wax with beeswax, palm wax, or rapeseed (canola) wax. The quantities and instructions stay the same.
What types of salt can I use for my pinecones firelighters?
Sprinkling your waxed pinecones with salt isn’t just pretty to look at. Salt will also change the color of the flame (temporarily, that is). Try these ideas:
- Epsom salt makes the flame white.
- Table salt (sodium chloride) causes a yellow flame.
- Copper chloride* creates ablue flame.
- Strontium chloride* tints the fire red.
- Barium nitrate* colors the flame green.
- Lithium bromide* produces a bright red flame.
*These salts aren’t safe for consumption and can irritate the respiratory tract if inhaled.
Do you really need a wick?
No, you can make pine cone fire starters without wicking too. The wick makes it just easier to light the firewood lighter, but you can omit it if you don’t have one.
How do you bake pinecones?
If you forage pinecones in the wild, you want to bake them before crafting with them. Baking helps to remove tree sap and bugs that might be dwelling in your pinecones. This is what you’ll do:
- Preheat the oven to 250°F / 120°C / gas mark 1/2.
- Line a rimmed cookie sheet (tray) with foil.
- Arrange the pinecones in a flat layer on your prepared baking sheet (tray).
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Let cool for 24 hours. Don’t touch hot pinecones, and use tongs if you need to move them.