Pine Cones

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On a recent trip up to Wisconsin I collected a large number of pine cones from the woods around the cottage.  Before bringing them inside the house a very important step to take is de-bugging the cones!  Pine cones are a nice home for little bugs that can then run wild in your home.  De-bugging your pine cones is easy and there are several ways to go about it.  I used a soaking method instead of baking them in the oven, I just imagined the gas oven catching the pine cones on fire and burning down the entire condo building…you’re welcome neighbors.

What you will need:

– 1 large bucket

– 2-3 gallons of warm water

– 1 cup of household ammonia (I’ve seen vinegar be used before, if you don’t want to use ammonia)

– Newspaper

– Large plastic bin to hold cones for drying

– Pine cones

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Directions:

1. Start by putting 1 cup of household ammonia into the large bucket and filling 1/2 way with at least 2 gallons of warm water.

2. Pull out needles and dirt as able before putting all the pine cones into the ammonia water, fill up as needed with warm water to cover the cones.

3. The cones will float, so make sure to mix up occasionally or use a heavy bucket on top to submerge cones as able.

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4. Allow the cones to soak for about an hour, then rinse well with water.

5. Next you want to lay the cones out in the large plastic bin lined with newspaper.  I brought the cones inside at this point to dry, otherwise I was afraid they would get new bugs in them while drying outside.

2013-10-07 18.50.11The cool thing about pine cones is that they close up when they are wet then open back up when they are dry.  So when you are picking pine cones don’t be afraid to grab the ones that aren’t open, they will open up once they are clean and dry.  I found a bunch of really little pine cones that I’m excited to use in a small centerpiece or two this winter.

Variations: 

-White Cones- you can soak in bleach water instead of ammonia water, you need to let them soak longer (like 8-10 hours) before rinsing.

– Shiney Cones- after de-bugging spraying with a clear polyurethane spray and let dry as recommended on spray can.

– Glitter Cones- after de-bugging you can decorate the cones with glue and glitter, a fun craft project for little kiddos!

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