Colored Fire Pinecones

Try This Colored Fire Chemistry Project

It's easy to make colored fire pinecones.
It's easy to make colored fire pinecones. Anne Helmenstine

How can you make your fire more festive? Toss on a few colored fire pinecones! Colored fire pinecones are extremely easy to make. All you need is one common household chemical.

Colored Fire Pinecone Materials

  • dry pinecones
  • boric acid (usually sold as a disinfectant in the pharmacy section of stores)
  • alcohol (optional)

Alcohol is not necessary for this project, but it is a good accelerant if you are having trouble getting your pinecones to burn, which is possible if they are still a little green. Also, alcohol burns with a blue flame, so it will add another color to the fire yet won't overpower the other flame colors in your pinecone. Methanol is sold as Heet™ fuel treatment (avoid contact with skin). Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) or ethanol (e.g., from rum or vodka) work well, too.

Methods of Preparing Colored Fire Pinecones

Method #1: This is the quick-and-easy method of getting pinecones to burn in colors. Sprinkle a little boric acid powder onto the pinecone. Squirt a small amount of alcohol onto the pinecone. Light the pinecone.

Method #2: Dissolve the boric acid in a small amount of water or alcohol. Soak the pinecones in the colorant solution and allow them to dry.

Boric acid is a good chemical for this project because it's easily obtained, safe, and can give you a full spectrum of flame colors. However, any of the safe colorants for making colored fire can be used to make colored fire pinecones, so don't be afraid to experiment with other chemicals. You can prepare colored pinecones in advance to give as gifts or to burn throughout the season. If you like, you can scent the pinecones by adding a small amount of cinnamon oil or potpourri fragrance.

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