Crystal Pinecone Ornaments

Crystallized Pinecones That Look Like They Are Coated with Ice

It only take a couple of hours to turn a plain pinecone into a crystal pinecone, plus it's really easy!
It only take a couple of hours to turn a plain pinecone into a crystal pinecone, plus it's really easy!. Anne Helmenstine

Crystal pinecones are real pinecones that you can coat with crystals to make ornaments that appear frosted with ice and snow. These decorations are easy to make and can be preserved to use year after year. It's the perfect crystal project to make homemade ornaments with kids or to practice growing crystals.

Crystal Pinecone Materials

The most important material is the pinecone. Choose any genuine pinecone.

It doesn't even need to be in great shape, since you can crystallize over any imperfects. The other ingredient is a salt that forms pretty crystals. I used borax, but you could use alum (big chunky crystals), table salt (small sparkly crystals), Epsom salts (fine needle-like crystals), or sugar (chunky rock candy crystals). Sugar or salt are nice if you're worried about kids or pets tasting your creations. If you use borax, it is also great for making crystal snowflakes, which you can make at the same time, if you like.

  • pinecone
  • water
  • borax (or one of the other ingredients)
  • jar big enough so you can completely cover the pinecone with liquid

If you want to hang the pinecone, like for a Christmas tree ornament, you'll also want a hook or wire.

Crystallize the Pinecone

  1. If you are going to hang the pinecone, it's easier to add the hook before the crystallization process. Attach an ornament hook or run wire around the pinecone first.
  1. Figure out how much water you need. Rather than mix the crystal solution right in the jar, I prefer to fill the jar with water, then heat it to boiling and pour it into a mixing bowl. This way, it's easy to filter the solution and remove any undissolved material.
  2. Stir in your crystal ingredient (borax, for my pinecone). Keep adding more powder until it stops dissolving. This is your crystal growing solution. If you wanted a colored crystal coating, you could add food coloring to this mixture. For borax, you'll use about 2 parts water to 1 part borax (e.g., 2 cups water and 1 cup borax).
  1. Put the pinecone in the jar. Pour the solution over the pinecone. If you have a lot of undissolved material, you can filter the solution by pouring it through a coffee filter or paper towel into the jar. Otherwise, just add it to the container, trying to avoid adding in solids. They won't ruin the project, but do affect the size of the crystals you'll get. If there is undissolved solid, you'll get fine crystals, like snow. Fully dissolved liquid and slow cooling gives you large, icy crystals.
  2. The pinecone will probably try to float. I put a rock on mine to hold it down, minimizing the contact between the rock and the pinecone since crystals can't grow where the pinecone is covered. It does not really matter what you use because the pinecone won't float for very long. Once it soaks up the liquid and starts growing crystals, it will sink. You can remove any weight you used to ensure coverage of the pinecone.
  3. Check on your pinecone after about an hour. If you used a weight, you should be able to remove it. You can also un-stick the pinecone from the bottom of the jar, to make removing it easier later on.
  4. Allow at least a couple of hour to overnight for crystals to grow, depending on how coated you want the pinecone. I removed my pinecone after about 2 hours. Set the crystal pinecone on a paper towel to dry.
  1. You can hang the pinecone indoors or outside. However, you might want to seal it against damage from moisture, especially for outdoor use. Make sure the crystallized pinecone is completely dry before sealing it. I'd allow 3 days (though you can use the pinecone indoors while you're waiting). To seal the crystals, you can spray the pinecone with sealant, dip the cone, or paint on lacquer or varnish. Good choices include Future floor polish, Varathane, or Modge Podge. Any of several products will work just fine.