Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to makeHomemade Fire Starters

Waxed Colorful Decorative Scented Pine Cones

These pine cones just look neat, and sit around the house. Or you could burn them too with the heat releasing the scent into your room…

Shopping List

  • Pine cones – I’d grab these from your backyard or a local stretch of pine forest, but craft stores might carry them in October through December as well.
  • Paraffin wax – Used in candle making. Try the craft store.
  • Double boiler – Again, candle making.
  • Crayons – or wax colorant
  • Cinnamon oil – Aromatherapy. Craft store!
  • Tongs – The kitchen section of a place like Target. Don’t expect to use them for cooking again later.
  • Glitter or fake snow – An optional finishing touch, which would look tacky around all of my other glittery crafts, but might look better in your home.
Melt the paraffin wax in the double boiler. If you’re not sure how to do this, read up on basic candle making for all the safety tips you need to know around boil-heating wax. Add the crayons to the melted wax as a colorant, and stir the wax until it’s an even color. Add a few drops of the cinnamon oil for scent. Dip your pine cones in the wax mixture and set them aside on wax paper to dry. By the time you’ve dipped the last pine cone, your first pine cone should be cooling off. Once they’re all dry to the touch, dip them again for coat two. You might need 3 or even 4 coats to completely cover the pine cone. Immediately after the last coat, you can lightly sprinkle the pine cone with glitter or fake snow. Set your pine cones aside for the last time, and begin cleanup. Let the pine cones dry for 2 or 3 hours before you call them done, and throw them in baskets to decorate your home with.

Water-based Pine Cone Fire Starters

These fire starters make colored flames when you burn them in the fireplace, and make a great party trick. They also look cute in a basket until it’s time to do the burning.

Shopping List

  • Pine cones
  • A big bucket
  • Tongs
  • A chemical (see below)

Choosing the Chemical

Each of these chemicals make a different colored flame, and different chemicals cost more than others. You should only make one color of cone at one time, and should never burn different colors together, so there’s no need to buy every chemical.
  • Table salt – Yellow flame – The grocery store. You can use the same stuff you fill your salt shaker with.
  • Borax (sodium tetraborate) – Yellow-green flame – 20 mule team borax, in the laundry aisle. ~5$ for much more than 1 cup.
  • Salt substitute (potassium) – Violet flame – The grocery store.
  • Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) – White flame – A pharmacy
  • Bright green flame – Allum (thallium) – Try the pharmacy. It’s for food processing (mostly, pickle making), but natural food stores charge a ton for it. ~5$ for 8oz/1 cup.
  • Bright red flame – Strontium chloride – Used in aquarium keeping somehow, so check a specialty aquarium store. ~10$ for 8oz/1 cup.
  • Boric acid – Deep red flame – Try the pharmacy. I think it’s used in soap making? ~5$ for 8oz/1 cup.

Fill the bucket with half of a gallon of hot water. Add a cup of your chemical of choice (ONE chemical). Soak your pine cones for about 8 hours, then fish them out with the tongs and set them aside to dry (some of these chemicals will lightly stain a counter top, so be sure to use lots of newspaper). The pine cones need to dry for at least 3 days before they can be burnt, and will need to dry for at least a day before you can stick them in a basket or wrap them.

Wax-based Pine Cone Fire Starters

This is basically a cross between the colorful decorative pine cones and the last fire starter recipe. It’s wax based, so it can hold color as well as emit color, and it should burn longer. Watch out for wax buildup in the fireplace though.

Shopping List

  • Pine cones
  • Paraffin wax
  • Double boiler
  • Crayons
  • Tongs
  • A chemical (see above)
  • Sawdust
  • An old cup
Mix fine sawdust and your chemical of choice in a large container. Melt the wax in the double boiler, and add crayon to create some color if you want. Restrict yourself to one or two coats of wax—as a consequence, expect some thin spots in the color. Immediately dip the waxed pine cone in the chemical/sawdust mixture. Use the cup to pour the mixture into hard to reach crannies, then set the pine cone aside to dry. In a couple hours, after the wax is completely cool, lightly shake the excess sawdust mixture out of the crannies.

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