Natural Wax-Dipped Pinecone Fire Starters Make Beautiful Homemade Gifts

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

Wax-dipped pinecone fire starters make starting a fire easy & they look pretty in a basket. These are for our own use, but they make wonderful, inexpensive and very functional gifts too.

Waxed Pinecone fire starters made by dipping pinecones in wax #TexasHomesteader

What To Do With Pretty Pinecones?

My garden basket isn’t used in the winter months. And I had a supply of pinecones I’d gathered for decorative purposes.

I also had a couple of half-burned pillar candles that I couldn’t even give away. 

I like to repurpose old candles for my firestarters. #UseWhatchaGot! But you can use any wax, purchased or repurposed.

You say before you commit to a project you wanna see how easy it’s going to be? Let’s DO THIS waxed pinecone thing!

Simple Steps For Waxed Pinecones:

    • Melt down wax or old candles in double-boiler

    • Dip, cool & re-dip pinecones in the melted wax

    • Cool & arrange in a pretty basket

Easy, Inexpensive & Functional Gift Idea

I saw my first pinecone fire starter about 30 years ago. Money was tight for all of us that Christmas.

So my SIL took large pine cones she’d picked up and dipped them in brightly-colored red or green wax. Then she piled the wax-dipped pinecones in a pretty basket and gave them as Christmas gifts.

Blue wax covered pinecones a nice inexpensive gift for fire starters. #TexasHomesteader

It didn’t cost her much money but her gift was so special. Beautiful, functional, personal and homemade.

Harvesting Fallen Pinecones

It seems I’m fascinated by pine cones. I’m not sure what my fascination with them is, but I think they’re gorgeous!

Wax-dipped pinecones for fires starters - white wax coated #TexasHomesteader

And now I have a good excuse to go collecting – making these pretty & decorative pinecone fire starters for RancherMan.

How To Remove Pests From Pinecones

You’ll want to make sure there are no bugs present inside the pinecones before you wax them. There are several ways people do this:

  • Bake Pinecones 30 Minutes – Some people bake their pinecones for 30 minutes in a low-heat oven set to 220 degrees F.

Caution though – pinecones are flammable. Working for decades in the fire protection industry, even at this low heat this method makes me a little nervous.

  • Soak Pinecones In Vinegar – Other people soak their pinecones in a solution of water/vinegar.

If you clean them by this method be sure to allow them to dry completely before making your fire starters.

  • Shake Pinecones – Some people don’t worry about cleaning them as long as they’ve shaken loose any visible debris or critters.

Where to Find Wax To Dip Pinecones

I used to burn scented candles quite often. I no longer burn typical candles, although I do on occasion burn beeswax candles.

Beeswax candles are easy to make yourself. #TexasHomesteader

Years ago I gathered up all my old candles and offered them first to family members who still enjoyed this type of candle. Several candles were given away at that time.

But these were left. No one wants an old, partially burned candle…

A box of old candles can be used to melt down into natural pinecone fire starters. #TexasHomesteader

So I’ve been repurposing candles from this box for a long time. Sometimes I melt them down and pour the melted wax into cardboard egg cartons for fire starters.

RancherMan loves ’em.

Fire starters can be made in a cardboard egg carton filled with lint and melted wax. #TexasHomesteader

We have an antique Franklin wood-burning fireplace so getting the fire started is so much easier with this little wax-based assistance.

Used Candles Melted For Pinecones

But today I’ll be taking some of these old used candles, melting and dipping pine cones in them for prettier fire starters. Who knew a box of old candles could be so handy!

If you’re making them for gifts you might want lighter & brighter colors. When I tried to use dark red wax you could hardly tell they were dipped.

Wax-dipped pinecones are natural fire starters

So if I’m giving them as gifts I use light wax colors – I like white. 

Wax-Melting Supplies

It’s true that once you get wax on your kitchen items it’s neigh impossible to clean it off. So it’s best to designate your wax-melting pan and utensils for only wax.

Here’s what I use to melt my wax:

      • Large pot to use as a double-boiler

      • Internal pot used only to melt wax (can be disposable aluminum pan or large empty food can)

      • Waxed Paper for dipped pinecones

(Caution: Obviously wax is flammable, y’all! A double-boiler system is the safest way to melt wax. Never melt wax over direct heat. Proceed with caution!)

Oh, and learn from my mistake, y’all. I overlooked that I’d be transferring dripping pinecones from a pot to the waxed paper. 

So cover any areas in between with aluminum foil or move your wax-melting pot closer to your work area.

Melting wax dripped on stove while making wax-dipped pinecone fire starters #TexasHomesteader

Different Ways To Dip Pinecones

Shallow Pan – I have an aluminum pie pan that I often use to melt wax. Not those flimsy disposable ones that come with pre-made piecrusts, but actual metal pie pan.

I just roll pinecones carefully and allow the tips to be coated. This is usually a pretty way to make them if the pinecone fire starters will be gifts, as there will be more wax built up on the tips. It also uses much less wax overall.

A heavy metal pie pan can be used as a double-boiler for melting wax. #TexasHomesteader

Full-Dip Method – Some people tie a string to the top of their pinecones and dip them into the melted wax. This will require a much deeper wax-melting pot since the entire pinecone will be dipped. It will also use much more wax.

When you’re done you trim can wax the string you’ve used to lower the pinecone to about 1/2″ and use it as a lighting wick.

Waxed pinecone fire starters - add a waxed candle wick. #TexasHomesteader

So decide which way you plan on making your pinecone fire starters and use the appropriate sized wax-melting pan.

Dipping Pinecones In Wax

Some people might use an old pair of kitchen tongs for this step, but I didn’t have an old pair of tongs.

So for shallow-pan melted wax I often use my fingertips to roll the pinecone around in wax barely warm enough to be melted. (The wax wasn’t hot enough to burn me.)

Now I suppose it’s important to say here – use your own judgment on the best way to dip your pinecones. Be safe!

It takes about 3-4 coatings to get wax to build up on the pinecones to my liking. Dip/cool/repeat.

This step goes much faster if your wax isn’t super hot. It allows the wax to adhere to the pinecone without immediately melting off. Nicely warm melted wax works best for me.

Embellishment Ideas For Wax-Dipped Pinecones

Different Colors – When the pinecones are coated with wax, some like to roll just the tips of their wax-dipped pinecones in a different colored melted wax to offer a tipped look. Sounds like it would certainly be pretty if you have different colors and different wax-melting pots available. Perhaps the main colors can be red or green and the final ‘just-the-tips‘ color could be white to look like snow? 

Epsom Salt – Other people sprinkle the still-melted tips of wax-dipped pinecones with Epsom salt immediately after the final wax coating. Although I’ve never done this it’s said this gives a sparkle to the fire starters as they’re lighted. It also gives a little snow-coating sparkle look to the pinecones themselves I suppose. 

Adding A Wick – If you’ve not used string to dip the pinecones in wax, some tie an actual candle wick to the top of the pinecone to make them easier to light. Pinecones light pretty darn easily on their own but if these fire starters are to be a gift, that’s a nice touch too.

How To Gift Your Homemade Pinecone Fire Starters

You want to give these fire starters as an inexpensive, functional, pretty & heart-felt homemade gift? They’ll be loved for sure!

Because I have a crunchy-green streak here’s what I do:

Find a pretty basket at your local thrift store. You’ll be able to buy a beautiful basket for pennies on the dollar and probably support a worthy cause at the same time.

Make sure the basket’s the right size. You want one big enough to hold several fire starters but not so large that it’s cumbersome or requires a crazy amount of pinecones to fill.

Then add your pretty wax-coated pinecone fire starters and maybe a box of extra-long fireplace matches.

You can embellish your basket with a big floofy bow. Or if you’re on your way to deliver your gift now you can tuck in natural embellishments.

I’ve used evergreen leaves and red berries from the bushes right outside our home. It makes for a pretty presentation.

Waxed Pinecone fire starters made by dipping pinecones in wax #TexasHomesteader

I speak from experience when I say these are awesome gifts for someone who has a wood-burning fireplace. And they make great campfire starters too for your camping enthusiast friends.

Beautiful and functional – that’s my jam, y’all.


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6 thoughts on “Natural Wax-Dipped Pinecone Fire Starters Make Beautiful Homemade Gifts

  1. Tracy

    Is dipping them in wax required or can you just clean and dry the pinecones and then use them as they are to light a fire? Is the wax sealing the resin/sap so they aren’t sticky? I can’t figure out, short of how they look, why people are dipping them in wax.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Pinecones are flammable as they are Tracy. But wax keeps them from burning too quickly to light firewood . Although depending upon how large the pinecone is, the amount of kindling, airflow etc., you could certainly be able to build a fire using plain dry pinecones. But the wax layer makes the pinecones more efficient. ~TxH~

  2. Kim G.

    I love this idea! One question…does the wax cause a problem in fireplaces or wood burning stoves, as in a wax build-up or residue? Or does the wax completely burn away? I’ve never used these or made them, but am thinking it would be a wonderful gift idea this winter!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      We’ve never had a problem with any wax residue in our fireplace. The first time I ever saw these wax-dipped pinecones they were presented to us as a Christmas gift in a large basket with a pretty bow. Such a cute yet inexpensive homemade gift! ~TxH~

  3. Candace Ford

    When I have needed to melt wax for one thing or another, I put a clean metal food can in the pan with the hot water. As the water heats the can the wax melts – takes a bit longer, but somewhat safer.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I agree Candace, the tin-can method is what I use when making the cardboard egg carton fire starters. I saved back a large tin can and fashioned a semi-point in the rim with a pair of pliers to make a spout. That makes it easier to pour into the egg carton sections. And you’re right, that would be the perfect receptacle for dipping whole pinecones in as well. Thanks for the tip. ~TxH~


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