Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pinecone Wonders

This morning on a little hike, I discovered hundreds of pine cones on the trail. It is the time of year for them to fall I suppose (you know, the Fall?) but, believe it or not, I hadn't given them enough consideration over the years. I was struck by how beautiful a pine cone is - they are just perfect pieces of nature - and wanted so much to bring some home with me. The thought of making firestarters came to mind - and, in fact, I was rather obsessed with the usefulness of the idea. We have quite a few of the ponderosa pines on our place - up on the ridges and down in the arroyos - and when I got home I picked up some gathering bags and spent an hour or so collecting them. It was a lovely time - such purpose and beauty all around me.

The scrub oak has lost its leaves and they join the long pine needles on the floor of the forests. The sun was shining, the sky was blue - and I had two bags of great looking pine cones. I tried to teach Felicia to fetch them, too, but she only brought them back if I threw them first. Back at the house I found an old candle making kit that one of the girls didn't take with them when they moved out. It contained several pounds of paraffin beads and a couple of yards of woven wick. I melted the wax in a double boiler, tied a 4 inch piece of wick around each cone, and dipped the whole cone into the wax. The wick didn't go as far as I had hoped (after all, I did gather over two hundred cones) but Jerry told me cloth strips would work well, too. And so they did. I had to try them out after I'd made several firestarter cones.

Those little buggers burned for about 7 minutes. Who would have thought? I am making some for all our friends who use woodburners.


  1. That's a great idea, I might try it myself although I don't think that the sitka spruce pine cones will burn for long as they are really small.
    It will help me to keep my eyes peeled for the bigger cones as I wander up the track tomorrow. We have had a lot of wind this last week so I expect that there will be lots of spruce cones on the forest floor.

  2. What a clever idea. I wish I'd known of this before we went camping in the fall. I saw scads of large pine cones on our camping trip. I wonder if there is a way you can color the wax? I assume there must be, but I've never made candles before.