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pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Posted by
MKGE WA
(extreme.blizzard@juno.com) on
Mon, Oct 8, 01 at 11:29

I have a ton of pinecones that I use for crafts, and would like to make some into those cones that you soak in a substance and they turn colors in the fireplace. Does anybody have the solution recipe that you soak them in? Any help would be appreciated! Thank You!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

I copied this from an old post:


You'll need: Pinecones, Wax (you can re-use your old candle piece), Sawdust
Melt wax in double boiler , not directly on stove as heated wax can ignite.To add colour when burning use: table salt (burns yellow), no-salt substitute (burns violet), Borax (burns green).Dip pinecones in wax to coat and then dip in a mixture of sawdust and one of the above items (depending on burning colour desired).These make fabulous gifts when displayed in a wicker basket or decorate with ribbons, etc.


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Kari,
Thanks for the posting! I really appreciate it. It sounds really easy, but I was wondering do you or does anyone know how much of the salt, no-salt and borax you would use in the sawdust mixture or does it really not matter?


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

also check eHow for additional colors/chemicals

www.ehow.com

Alexa


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Thanks Alexa for the website. It's a great help! M.K.E.


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

HELP!!!!!
Does everyone else know where to get these chemicals, but me? After spending three hours lost in cyberspace, trying to find the common household products that contain the salts for making these pyrotechnic pinecones, I have a whopper headache and no answers. Have mercy, and give me the secret ingredients! I need help with:Alum,Strontium Chloride,Boric Acid, Calcium, Calcium chloride,Copper sulfate,Potassium nitrate,--I got the epsom salts, but, that's only one outa 10. Where do I buy these things to dissolve in water? By the way, I did go to ehow, and wwvisions.com, and they both had the recipe posted by Catten Ely, but no sources were mentioned. Thank you for the sites, Flo and Alexa!
Gee I hope someone sees this and answers quick, as I bought a pretty copper container, long matches, fatwood sticks, and a bunch of other stuff for a firestarting kit to make for my Dad's birthday, not to mention the hike collecting an assortment of pinecones.
Thanks,
Deb


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

I'm really sorry and wish I could help. I'm just going to use the simple method with no-salt substitute, borax and salt. I have no idea where to find the rest of the chemicals. Good Luck to You! I really hope that someone can help! MKGE


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Alum is used for preserving pickles, among other uses-check the spice aisle.

Boric Acid---THE #1 best way to buy this stuff is to buy an everyday Cleaner:
20 MULE TEAM BORAX (Thus the name) The main ingredient is BORIC acid....Hope this helps. Lori


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Hi Guys!
After taking 2 tylenol, I started researching again and this is what I found out! But,first, thank you, ever-so-much,MKGE and kiwi44, for the helpful hints in such a timely manner. It inspired me to keep diggin'. I am going to type the recipe for these pyrotechnic lovelies, first, so when I add my commentary, you have it right on hand to refer to.
Colorful Burning Pinecones (by Catten Ely)

steps:

1. Pour 1/2 gallon of hot water into a deep glass or plastic bowl.
2.Dissolve 8oz of any ONE, I repeat, One of the following chemicals in the water.( I'd be wearing gloves for this, but if you're feelin' lucky....)

Alum(thallium) for a bright green flame. I searched the spice aisle, kiwi, and they only come in 1.9oz containers--for big bucks. I happened to be in the pharmacy aisle at Meijer, and there, big as life, were bottles of ALUM(USP), in 4oz size for $1.50. Bought 2 and ditched the spice aisle jars. I tell ya, it's all a big conspiracy! It states it's for food processing, so it's the same thing, even mentions pickles on the bottle.

Strontium Chloride: For a bright red flame-now this one is a miracle in deductive reasoning,(for me). I punched it into 'search' and it sent me to a chemical site that was hieroglyphics, but, I did manage to recognise a few words, like reagent, and reef aquarium, so I called my neighborhood aquarium store and bingo! $7.95 for an 8oz bottle. Cool Huh?

Boric acid: For a deep red flame. Sorry kiwi,Borax and Boric Acid are two different things. Borax is sodium tetraborate and gives you a yellow-green flame. Found the boric acid at the local pharmacy, by the glycerine. 4oz bottles for $1.98 each.

Calcium: For a reddish-orange flame. Gee, I hope it's different than the flames usually found in a fire. Found that on the same shelf at the aquarium store. $7.95 for 8fl.oz.

Calcium Chloride: For a yellowish-orange flame. You won't believe this...blossom-end rot spray, right there in my garden chemical cupboard.

Tablesalt: For a yellow flame. I don't know if it has to be iodized or not, but I think the larger grains of coarse salt would work better, if you're rolling your pinecones in sawdust after dipping in wax. Tablesalt would probably go into solution easier, though.

Borax:(sodium tetraborate)For a yellow-green flame. Right-ee-o, kiwi,20 MULE TEAM BORAX. grocery store-laundry aisle. Cheep!

Blue Vitriol(copper sulfate): I have some copper sulphate as a fungicide for my garden, but it was expensive and I had to order it over the internet. But at the end of my shopping trip at Meijer, strolling through the fireplace/barbecue aisle, I found canisters of, Rutland- 'rainbow flame crystals'.."Add a fiesta of blue&green flames to your next wood fire." I was afraid I'd collected all this other stuff for nothing, at first, but in reading the label, it said: contains copper sulfate.

Saltpeter:(potassium nitrate)For a violet flame. I remember threatening to put some in my husband's food, long ago, but couldn't remember what garden product it was. In comparing this recipe list with the one for wax and sawdust, I saw that salt-substitute also gives off a violet flame. Deductive reasoning again...the salt substitute I found at the grocery, contains potassium chloride, potassium bitartrate, I figure that will have to do.

Epsom Salts:(magnesium sulphate) For a white flame.

3. soak the pinecones in the solution for 6 hours, another site advised to use something heavy, like a plate or brick to hold the pinecones down in the solution as they tend to float.

4. Dry them for at least 3 days in a warm, dry area on newspaper, or hang in a mesh bag.

Tips: To get the pinecones looking their best, heat them in the oven at 225 degrees F. They will open all the way and look fuller.(and I suspect, completely dry out so's to take in more of the solution)
WARNINGS: Use only one salt or compound for color at a time on one group of pinecones. (I read in my research that mixing these things can spell disaster-probly toxic fumes.

Well, Thanks for enduring my odyssey, Probably more than you wanted to know, but there's gotta be someone as chemically-challenged as me out there, who may happen upon this.
Deb


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Deb,
What can I say! I thank you very much for all the research and the best set of instructions I've seen since, well I don't know when! As I was done reading your very funny commentary on chemicals I decided to check out your page which was even funnier. It's great you love gardening and have such a great sense of humor too. I too love too garden and my big love is all sorts of trees. I thought I knew a lot until I entered the "conifer" forum! Man am I dumb! I don't think I'll ever know the official botanical names of every tree like those people. Well maybe by the time I'm 90, or not. Thank you again for the info. that I was too lazy to retrieve myself. I think now I'm going to soak some and dip and roll some. Good Luck and Best Wishes to you!! MKGE


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Hi Guys!
Back from Home Depot, and just had to amend my above recipe with an exciting find. Ya know how they're supposed to have those aisles clear?...Well not only were there ladders and boxes in front of this shelf, but also a customer, totally absorbed in his product label reading, and pushy broad as I am, I asked him to hand me down this carton shaped like an epsom salts carton. Let me preface this by telling you that I'm pouring down all the aisles, reading the chemical composition of everything in this warehouse in an effort to avoid using the expensive Blossom End Rot calcium chloride. This kind gentleman, rouses from his absorbed state, humbly apologising for blocking the shelf, and hands me down 'Damp Rid' moisture absorber. I turn the carton round and round, looking for the chemical composition, it's not at the bottom like usual products, but right at the top, in big yellow letters:CALCIUM CHLORIDE...I let out a whoop and did the snoopy dance, almost giving this guy a heart-attack. I felt I owed him an explanation for my outburst, but I just couldn't restrain myself, when, by fluke, I find exactly what I'm looking for. Had to be my Guardian Angel!
Anyway, just had to share!
Deb


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Thank you guys sooo much! Printed this out and am on my way to some serious chemical shopping!!!!!! We always do the 'hose in the copper tube' trick, so I am sure we will get a kick out of this.

alrity


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Deb,
Thanks again for the great info. and great Home Depot story! I loved it! I'm just sorry we all missed seeing the snoopy dance. I can only imagine what that looked like! MKGE


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Hey!?!?!?
What's the hose and the copper tube trick? And one more question...If I wanna Dip and roll vs. soak, what is the cleanest burning wax??? I know beeswax burns very clean but is also most expensive. I only have paraffin, on hand, but I sure don't want my poor, 72yr.old father, finding an ashy-waxy mess in the bottom of his fireplace....I can just hear him now....G?!?!#D!?#!@IT, Debbie....Racka-sacka-frackum...
Deb


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

PS: I saw in one of the three different forum postings, someone asking for a way to add scent to their pinecones. Since I have a little problem with moderation, I plan to experiment with a few things. While at Meijer's, I found some liquid, potpourri, one is called 'Cinnamon Stick' and one is 'Winter Pine.' It says on the label, to use full strength, in your simmer pot, but I think, you could probably use a little on your pinecones. I'd wrap those babies in plastic or cellophane, though. Second, I went to the healthfood store and purchased some essential oils, like, cinnamon oil, pine needle oil, cedarwood oil, allspice oil, and orange oil. These are not the flavoring oils you use in cooking,but the aroma-therapy oils, that the anal Martha Stewart says are much stronger-a little goes a long way. By the way, NOW brand is the least expensive. Since they are so expensive, I think, impregnating-(like that word,eh?) them into wax, would probably be the most effective, locking the scent in until released in the fire. I also think I'll try a few drops on Mugo pinecones, because in my treks, into the woods, which, in reality, are my neighborhood yards, collecting pinecones, they seem to be the most, dense wood, and may burn longer. I also purchased a few bulk spices, while there, like, whole nutmegs,whole allspice berries and whole juniper berries-you know those Yule Gibbons healthfood types- they have all that nature stuff. I plan to make little packets wrapped in gauzy fabric, tied with raffia, dipped in wax. I cut fresh pine boughs, and plan to stick a bunch of pine needles into the packets. Been saving orange peels, too. Oh!, and cinnamon sticks, too. I plan to tie a little hand written paper label to each, denoting the type of scent. Then, I went to the Catholic Cathedral bookstore, where the priests get their incense, and bought some of this real, resin incense, with frankincense and myrrh. I plan to call it 'Holy Smoke'! I know, I know, I need treatment! I plan to check myself into 'over-doers' rehab, as soon as Christmas is over. Maybe Martha will be there.
Deb


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Wow what an interesting post! I didn't understand the copper tube thing either. O.K. here goes on my opinion on wax dipped fireplace starter cones. Now maybe I'm a little dense about this, but wouldn't the extreme heat of a fire not only melt, but also burn up the wax and turn it into some kind of ash eventually? That probably was kind of a stupid assumption, but the heat from a fire is really different then the heat from a lighted wick. Does anyone have the answer to this question? Somebody has to have used them before, out there somewhere, I think. Don't you think? MKGE


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

MK GE- I would agree with you as the commercial pressed wood fire starters and fire logs have a lot of parrafin in them, as well.


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Ok, copper tube trick:

Find some old garden hose, and cut it into 4-5 inch pieces. Cut each piece lengthwise into strips. Insert a strip into a 5-6 inch long piece of copper pipe. They should fit pretty snug, so adjust the slices accordingly. Repeat until you have as many as you want.

How to use:

When you have a good fire going, throw one of these in between the logs, in a nice hot part. As the garden hose melts, it reacts with the copper and gives off some really pretty colors.(pink, blue, violet, etc) Depending on where you place the tube, your whole fire can be colorful. (very cool in a campfire)

You can also retrieve the pipes from the ashes (when cool) and reuse, although they will no longer be that pretty copper color anymore.

And now you know the copper pipe trick!


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

I've just got to ask one more question about this procedure because I'm really dense I guess. The rolling method sounds cool, but I don't have access to any sawdust. Does anyone have an idea about what you could use to substitute?

Now, for the really dumb question. If you are going to soak the pinecones to get them to turn color in the fire, I am assuming you have to do that before you dip them in the wax. Is that right? Can you soak them, then dry them in the oven (very low heat) and then dip in the wax? I'm thinking you wouldn't want to dip them in the wax until they were very dry. Am I right?

Thanks much

Sandy


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special thanks to thebee7777

Deb,

Thanks for sharing all the wonderful information you collected, I never would have gone to that trouble but would have just thrown up my hands in despair. I'm not too chemically oriented. Thanks again. I have not only printed it out, I've saved it to my harddrive.

Sandy


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

ARE THESE CHEMICALS NOT BAD FOR YOU TO INHALE?


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

I did this one time.I melted a real nice cinnamony scented candle and rolled the cones in it.They didn't burn pretty colors but they did light a quick fire.And if you get up and are freezing your butty off quicker is better.LOL.I plan on trying the colored ones if I can find more cones.Also to make a pretty gift,the dollar tree type stores sell those long matches,long lighters,etc for $1 each.Can't beat that.Maybe this is a great gift idea for me to carry in my office.Anybody got any others?


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Deb,
I can't thank you enough for your very timely post! I've already started making my Christmas gifts for family this year (Mom would rather have homemade than store bought so it's now a tradition in my family to make gifts.) I had decided that for my father I would make a beautiful basket full of the colorful pinecones and fire starters, etc. I even bought the basket last week and logged on today to find the directions for those pinecones. What a treat to come across this thread and your post! You just saved me a couple hours of research - THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

Susan


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

I went searching and was glad to find this thread from last year. I'm planning on doing them this year. Thought some others might be interested in this thread also.

Sandy


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Sandy - thanks for bringing this back - As I was reading, I thought "gee, this sounds familiar" - then I looked at the dates :> I know I have all this somewhere but who knows where that is, now I can do something will all those pinecones I been collecting (again this year) :>


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

www.chemistrystore.com has lots of the chemicals needed for sale online.


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Diane wrote to me at my address, probably because she can see how often I've checked back on this thread.....She writes:
[This message originated at GardenWeb]

How do you get the chemicals to "stick" to the pine cones without using wax? Me and my girlfriend tried soaking and drying but they didnt make any colors? Any suggestions?

Diane

Dear Diane,
Man, this is an old post! I wonder how long they keep 'em. Anyway, down to business.........When you soaked the pine cones:
1. were they bone dry prior to soaking
2. did you put enough of the chemical in the very, close to boiling, hot water?
3. Did you weigh the cones down, so they were submerged in the solution with a
heavy plate or bricks.
4. Did you soak them overnight? I kinda couldn't get back to mine for a couple of
days, so they got a lot of time in the solution.
5. Were they completely waterlogged and closed up when you removed them from
the solution?
6. Did you completely dry them out, naturally, not by oven or microwave, (takes
about 3 days in dry, warm garage), until they were bone dry and completely
opened?
If that doesn't work for you, I've included the recipe and method from www.thechemistrystore.com

I also remember feeling frustrated dipping in melted paraffin, in the garage, in 35 degree weather, and having the paraffin remain at the right temp for rolling, but maybe if you're doing it now it wouldn't be a problem. Oh, and you'll notice that many of the chemicals produce the color of flames that a fire normally has........is it possible that you used the chemicals that made orange or yellow flames? Try that stuff I found at Meijer, canisters of Rutland- 'rainbow flame crystals'.."Add a fiesta of blue&green flames to your next wood fire."
Remember a lot of the stuff you can roll them in can be found at your local nursery: Copperas, copper sulfate, potassium nitrate, potassium sulfate, in those cheap 4lb. bags made by High Yield. I used the big crystal salt used for kosher cooking, too.
Hope this helps!
Deb

Pine Cone Firestarters
Christmas Tree Flame Retardant
Christmas Tree Preservative
Pine Cone Fire Starters
Chemicals used for colors:
Calcium Chloride Blue Flames
Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salts) White Flames
Borax Yellowish Green Flames
Copper Sulfate Green Flames
Sodium Chloride (Table Salt) Yellow Flames
3 parts Potassium Sulfate/1 part Potassium Nitrate Violet Flames


Solutions
There are all sorts of different methods of applying these chemicals to pine cones as well as saw dust or paper logs.

A good starting formula would be to make a 1 gallon solution of a glue-water mix. Use any water based white glue, mix 1 pint glue to 7 pints of water. Dissolve 1 lb of chemical into this solution. Place the pinecones in a mesh bag and soak in the solution overnight. Allow to dry.

It is best not to mix the chemicals on the pinecones but throw different treated pine cones on the fire.




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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Deb, Had to laugh at your encounter with the guy at Home Depot. He probably thinks your one of the crazies from the Garden Junk forum. I've never met a nicer bunch of crazies than that group. Sue


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

this info is great. i know what chemicals to use but i wasn't sure of the procedure. let me contribute:

a) many of the coloring chemicals can be procured from ceramist's suppliers- for making your own glazes- and they're ususally really cheap.

b) not all the chemicals are water soluable, so if the cones don't pick up the chemical from the soaking, they won't contribute color.

c) also- the fire itself can wash out the colors, since the colors apprear in a certain region of temperature. so when in doubt, use a lot of chemical. if you parafin dip, you won't have to worry about the cones catching fire.

d) the necessary chemicals can also be procured from mail-order pyrotechinic chemical suppliers, though they're more expensive than the ceramist's source.

e) instead of parafin, linseed oil, sprayed- not dipped! ought to make a good adhesive for the chemicals- like those that are not water soluable. the linseed oil will take quite a while to dry- up to 2 weeks- but should also make the cones burn a very long time.

f) some notes on pyro-chemistry, if you go the ceramist's/pyro supply road:

1) chorides make colors more vivid. but do not use chorATES (highly dangerous)

2) copper makes blue- so copper chloride is a good choice, so is copper oxide and copper sulfate and copper carbonate

3) strontium makes red- strontium chloride and strontium carbonate (black). strontium, like salt and sugar, can absorb moisture and never completely dry, but this is not a problem with strontium carbonate.

4) barium makes green, but only barium sulfate is safe. barium chemicals are poisenous because they are water soluable and absorbed by the body. barium sulfate isn't water soluable so isn't too bad, but you can't water soak the cones in it.

5) potassium makes violet- as you know, to make purple:

6) purple is made by combining a copper and a strontium, usually in a 1 1/2:1 ratio by weight. however, if you feel like experimenting, you can play a bit to produce magenta, etc.

7) plaster of paris makes pink

8) DO NOT USE any nitrate, chorate, or percholarate or your cones will become road flares, and in the case of chlorate, explosive

9) one of the advantages of dipping in parafin, besides not taking days to dry, is that if you're careful, you could coat 1/2 with one color and the other half with another color, like yellow and purple, blue and white, etc.

10) virtually all of the chemicals discussed in this thread produce toxins when burned, so make sure there's plenty of ventilation, and if you burn them in a campfire, sit downwind! (or is it upwind? i can never get that straight) you get the idea.


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Have any of you tried rolling old newspapers up very very tight, tying them with a fine wire and dipping them in the solution for the pine cones. It has to be Newspapers so it absorbes the solution. Don't put too many of them in the bucket as they swell up. Years ago, we had a "paper roller" and made what we called "yule logs". My children just loved to watch these burn.


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

I tried the colored pinecone ideas in here big time. First I tried the soak, dry, and heat method...pinecones did not burn any color. Then I figured since I had already put so much effort in to them that I'd dip in wax and roll in the chemicals...still they don't burn colorful. The chemicals just sizzle a bit. They look pretty though, so I am still going to try to sell them at the farmer's market for a $1 a piece.

Where did I go wrong? I used 1 lb of chemicals per gallon of water. I tried burning the cones on an outdoor fire...any suggestions? Deb


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Just a note here:
Don't use sawdust from treated wood. It contains arsenic and the resulting fumes can cause serious illness.


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

I would recommend NOT using the copper and strontium and barium compounds especially, because they are highly toxic and being heavy metals, will stay in your system and continue to poison you if you breathe or ingest them.


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Does anyone know how to color candle flames successfully? I can color fireplace flames with pinecones but not with wick in candles. Please help


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Thanks for your cautionary comments. Be Very Careful with these items - at a recent campfire some of the commercial flame crystals (entire 1 lb container) were put in the firelay before it was lit for a gathering ceremony. The logs had also been doused with kerosene to make lighting easier (common practice - no problems in past) but this time there was a small explosion when the fire was lit. Thank goodness nobody was hurt. The fire did have nice green and blue flames afterward, but what a surprise!!!

There is a note on the container to add small amounts (2-3 tablespoons) to a fire which was already lit. We will be much more careful in the future and follow directions if we use this again.


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

I'm planning on doing this for a christmas present for the family pyromaniac (aka my brother) and I was wondering if anyone could share their experiences. Which chemicals gave the most "bang for the buck" and which preparation worked best (ie wax vs. water solution)?

I'm soaking some of my pinecones in an Epsom salt solution. I figured that one probably wouldn't work well with wax. The other chemicals I have on hand are: borax (yellowish-green), boric acid (red), salt (yellow - is it worth bothering with salt? Isn't fire yellow to start?), salt subsitute/potassim chloride (purple), allum (green). Anyone have any advice on how to apply these and how well they work? Also any other chemicals worth getting? Oh and does plaster of paris really give a pink flame and if so what kind of pink?

Thanks in advance for any help!


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Hello,
Does anyone know how to remove sap from the pinecones? I have been baking mine on 200 degrees for 90 minutes they are still all sappy.Thankyou Jenny- Out of my gourd farm


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Does anyone know what else to do with pine cones other than to color the fireplaces? I have a lot of beautiful cones to use ,recycle, or else...Thank you for your ideas!


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

Micrideblois, heres a way I used about 5 differnt types of pinecones. I made teddy bears.Find a nice big one for the body.Stand it up (fat part down of course,> a smaller one for the head.turn it sideways, fat part to the back, skinnyer point is the face.Glue it to the top of the big one.I use a glue gun to join them.then find four of the longer, skinnier ones for the arms and legs.I glue my legs to the sides of the cone instead of from the front"holds the bear up better. same as the arms, you can make them go out straight, like they're reaching for something, and later experiment with different movements.then as ears I use the little tiny roundish pinecones, cant remember the tree name, and glue those on the topside of the head as ears. then I found little black button looking things in the woods and used them as eyes. they turn out cute as heck.for the eyes I used tacky glue cos the hot glue blobbed up too much in me. after they dried i used a spray stain/poly combo like you spray pinecones wreaths with to give them a consistant color & shine. Its been about 5 years since I made them and cant remeber any brand name, but if you go to the paint isles in walmart, lowes or home depot you'll find it.Have fun


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

All this talk about finding chemicals...

A great help yes!...but how did they burn?
Are there chemicals and colors I shouldn't waste my time with? This could get costly!

Thanks,
Patti


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

  • Posted by maga pinecones (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 28, 10 at 2:32

I heard that mixing epson salt and water and soaking the pinecones in it. Then let them dry and they are suppose to turn colors when burning.


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RE: pinecones used for color in fireplaces

I wouldn't use the garden hose trick indoors or even outdoors where people will be within the breathing zone. Burning rubber and many other materials are toxic when burned. I would definitely do some research on the chemicals before using them.


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