Buying, setting up and decorating a Christmas tree takes a lot of time, money and effort, so you want it to last as long as possible. If you are looking for ways to preserve your Christmas tree's life, you might have heard that it helps to add vodka to the water because it kills bacteria.
Does adding alcohol help, though? The National Christmas Tree Association asserts that no additives are necessary to keep your Christmas tree fresh, and it is possible that some additives may lead to the tree drying out faster, which makes it a fire hazard. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep your Christmas tree last throughout the holiday season.
Video of the Day
How to extend the life of a fresh-cut Christmas tree
There are a number of ways to prolong the life of a Christmas tree. Start by choosing the freshest tree you can find at a Christmas tree farm. Look for pines that are healthy and green with few brown needles.
Run a few branches through your fingers. The needles should feel soft and not fall off when you do so. Also, raise the pre-cut tree a few inches off the ground and gently drop it. If a lot of green pine needles fall off, continue shopping.
Christmas tree care and positioning
Buy a Christmas tree stand that holds 1 quart of water for every inch of the trunk's diameter. Before putting the tree in the stand when you get the tree home, cut off 1 inch from the bottom of the trunk. Place the tree in the stand and fill the water reservoir. Check the water level at least once a day.
Trees can dry out without enough water, and they can turn brown if there is too much heat or humidity in the room.
Keep the fresh tree away from direct sunlight, heating vents and heat sources, such as space heaters and fireplaces, both of which are extremely dangerous and could dry out the tree. If you use a humidifier, position it on the other side of the room.
What to put in water to preserve Christmas trees
Some sources claim that vodka can be added to the water to preserve Christmas trees because it kills bacteria, but others disagree that it will work. Some sources recommend using aspirin, bleach, sugar or 7-Up to preserve a tree, but it is probably best to use plain old water.
Most experts agree that none of these additives make Christmas trees last longer, and using anything besides water may even cause them to mold or lose their needles quicker.
Putting the tree in the stand as soon as possible once you get it home can help with needle retention. If you cannot do it right away, place the tree in a bucket of water until you are ready. In cases where cut Christmas trees are left out for more than 24 hours, it is best to cut about 1/4 inch off the base to allow for faster water uptake.
Christmas tree safety tips
You should review Christmas tree safety tips whenever you are putting a pine indoors. These cautions are even more important than prolonging the tree's life. Trees should be kept at least 3 feet away from heat sources, including candles and radiators, and they should not block exits.
Christmas lights should be listed with a qualified testing laboratory. Note that some are not designed for indoor use. Replace light strands that have broken cords, worn cords or loose bulb connections, and be sure to turn off the tree lights when going to bed or leaving home.
Once Christmas is over, don't wait long before cleaning up the tree, or you will have a massive, prickly mess on your hands. As a preventive measure, use a vacuum hose to clean up the dead needles every few days before you need to get rid of the tree.
Contact your town to see what the disposal options are for trees, or add the Christmas tree's needles and small sections of its branches to your compost pile.
So, even though vodka is said to preserve Christmas trees because it kills bacteria, experts generally agree that it doesn't and that additives aren't necessary to keep your tree fresh. Simply position your tree away from heat sources and make sure it has plenty of water at all times.