I like giving hand made gifts, and it is usually pretty easy to come up with something for my mom, my sister or my girlfriends. I have a harder time finding good gifts to make for men. This year, my dad will be getting these pine cone fire starters.

Whenever I walk to the post box to mail letters, or to the bakery which is too conveniently located just a few blocks from my house, I pass a yard with a big pine tree on the corner. The yard is fenced in, but some of the pine cones drop onto the sidewalk and the street, and I consider these fair game. I usually come home with one or two that have not been smooshed or damaged, and have been collecting them in a bag. In past years, I’ve used these for wreaths, piled them in a big bowl for a centerpiece, and even painted and glittered them. This year there are enough to spare a dozen for this project.

I actually made these once before in February, but used a tutorial that left a big chunk of wax at the bottom of the pine cone. I knew my parents would not want to risk getting pools of wax in the bottom of their fire place, so used this tutorial instead which just calls for dipping the cones and not pouring wax over them into muffin tins.  Paraffin is melted, a length of wick is wrapped around the pine cone and then they are dunked.  Paraffin is highly flammable, so it needs to be melted in a double boiler. I have one I got at a rummage sale and use only for melting wax. I’m sure it would be OK to melt beeswax in a pan used for food, but paraffin is a petroleum byproduct, and I never feel that I can get every last trace of it out of the pan. I also found that the initial dunks give the pine cone a shiny appearance. I wanted the more frosted look, so dunked them another time after they had a chance to cool for a bit and got the waxy look I wanted. I set them onto cupcake liners to avoid getting melted wax on everything while they cooled.


I may pile these up in a basket, but for now, I’ve found the perfect-sized box to store & protect them.