Aside from the Yahoo spinning groups I follow regularly, I also read a camping group. I’m not entirely certain of the etiquette for sharing information gleaned from these groups but I’m going to take a chance on posting this because it’s neither personal or uniquely original…so here’s something I’ve stolen from Chevy to share with you. If this seems too ambitious, remember that we sell lovely scented Maine made firestarters in our store…but sometimes it’s fun to build the excitement of a vacation by making your own.
Water-based Pinecone Firestarters
These firestarters make colored flames when you burn them in the fireplace or campfire, and make a great party trick. They also look cute in a basket until it’s time to do the burning.
A big bucket
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 speciality 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 pinecones 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 countertop, so be sure
to use lots of newspaper). The pinecones 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 Pinecone Firestarters
This is basically a cross between the colorful decorative pinecones
and the last firestarter 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.
A chemical (see above)
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 pinecone in the chemical/sawdust mixture. Use the cup to pour the mixture into hard to reach crannies, then set the pinecone aside to dry. In a couple hours, after the wax is completely cool, lightly
shake the excess sawdust mixture out of the crannies.