Pine Cone Burning Colors
I want to make-pine cones that will burn colors in a
fireplace. Saw some in a store, too expensive, thought I could make them
myself. I know copper sulfate will burn blue. Where can I get it and
what would I mix it with to make a paste (so it would stick to cones) I
do not want to build something that would blow up. Would soaking them in
a saturated solution be sufficient? Thanks, Debbie
Soaking the pine cones with concentrated solutions of the electrolytes
should be sufficient. Table salt will burn with an intense yellow that could
mask any other color, so only put one salt per pine cone. Calcium chloride
will burn red. You can get it from a hardware store -- it is used in some
snow and ice "melters" -- check the label. You might try a farm supply store
for the copper sulfate. It is used to kill algae in ponds and lakes.
This issue has been dealt with in the Newton Chemistry Archives. Check
them out. Nevertheless, here's my take on the matter:
First, be aware that pine cones contain a very energetic sap that can pop
and spew flaming jets of goo into the room. Be sure the cones are confined
behind a suitable fire-screen so that cannot happen.
Granulated copper sulfate (TOXIC!) can be purchased at feed stores and
home centers. Dissolve about a half cupful in about a gallon of water
contained in a 2 gallon plastic bucket, Stir the solution until all the
granules are dissolved. Place the pine cones in the solution and weight
them down with a brick so they're all under the solution. Let them stand
for a week. As required, fish out a few and burn them wet. You should get
some pretty blue and green flames when they burn.
Follow the handling instruction that appear on the container of copper
sulfate. Do not allow children or pets to contact the solution. Wash
hands and clean up spills.
BTW, you can do the same thing with plain table salt to make a very
intense yellow color in the flames. In any case, the colors will be most
apparent when the fire is quite hot -- you will not see much when it is
Be safe and good luck.
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Update: June 2012