We love working with nature on our little homestead. Making fire starters from natural ingredients is a great way to quickly bring fires to full flame.
There are many kinds of fire starters. But this way is our favorite because it is easy and uses just two main ingredients: pine cones and beeswax. Using these two things together combines the fast-burning heat of pinecone resin with the clean and slow-burning power of beeswax.
In my opinion, this pine cone project makes the perfect fire starters for our woodstove needs.
- Pine cones
- Beeswax (1/4 to 1/2 cup)
- Cotton or jute string or candle wick
- Double boiler (with dedicated vessel for melting wax)
- Chopstick and/or small (child’s) paintbrush
- Newspaper or egg carton
Forage for Pine Cones
Cedar cones are actually our favorite for this project, and some of the smallest. Any pine cone will work. Just make sure they have time to dry out before using, as cones with moisture trapped in them can pop and crackle more than you might like.
White and red pine cones are great and usually sticky with resin. Coating them with melted beeswax makes them easier to handle and much more effective. Spruce cones can work but are harder to get the wax to soak in. And they take longer to dry out.
This step takes the longest, depending on how much wax you try to melt and the double boiler you’re using. Be patient and take time to prepare the rest of the project while it melts.
I use a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Being able to mix the melting wax with a chopstick speeds it along.
Set up Work Area
Make sure you’ve got space to move around, as you’ll be working fast with hot wax. Lay out some newspaper.
Opening up an egg carton to let the dipped cones dry and harden on also works great, as you can add them to your own fire after the project.
Add a Wick to the Cones
I add jute or 100-percent cotton garden twine to my cones. I start at the base and weave in between the lowest few layers of scales (that’s what the individual plates on the cones are called) and tie a knot with a few inches of extra string to hold onto as I dunk into the melted wax.
Then I continue to weave along between the scales (you’ll notice there’s a beautiful winding pattern to them) and leave 1 or 2 inches of extra string on the top to use as a wick.
Dip & Dry
Once the wax is melted, you’ll hold on to the string you tied on the base and simply dip them in quickly to coat with wax. If you’re doing just a few or don’t have deep enough wax to fully submerge, you can use a chopstick to roll the cones in the wax or a small paintbrush to help spread the wax.
One dunk per cone is enough. Make sure to get wax on the wick as well. Place on an egg carton or newspaper to cool and dry.
They last indefinitely.
You can tie on dried herbs or flowers or add natural bows if gifting. Simply light the wick end and watch it ignite the rest of your kindling.
We’ve found a basket of these pine cone fire starters is essential to our sanity as we burn wood all winter long in our wood stove. You’ll find these don’t need to be big in size to get big fires going.