The Fastest Way to Get Pinecones to Open Up

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Force pinecones to open by heating them in a oven.
Force pinecones to open by heating them in a oven. (Image: Jupiterimages/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Gather your own pinecones to make holiday decorations, pinecone wreaths, ornaments and centerpieces. It’s an environmentally friendly way to decorate and it's easy on the wallet. Fall is a good time to get outside and pick up fallen cones under pine trees. Unfortunately, most of the cones that you find are closed. If you don’t want to wait for the cones to dry out and open up on their own accord, check out the following tips and get a head start on holiday crafts.

Things You'll Need

  • Pinecones
  • Old newspapers
  • Aluminum foil
  • Old cookie sheet
  • Kitchen oven
  • Work gloves

Place pinecones on old newspapers. Brush off pine needles and other debris from the cones. Wear gloves to protect your hands from getting covered in sap. Leave the sap on the cones, as the heat will melt it into a glossy brown glaze.

Wear gloves to protect your hands from insects and sap.
Wear gloves to protect your hands from insects and sap. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Line an old cookie sheet with aluminum foil. The foil will prevent the sap from sticking to the cookie sheet.

Decorating with pinecones is environmentally friendly.
Decorating with pinecones is environmentally friendly. (Image: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Spread the pinecones on the cookie sheet in a single layer. Make sure that they are not touching each other.

Place the cookie sheet of cones in the heated oven. The heat will remove the moisture that keeps the pinecones closed, and force them to open.

Keep your eyes on the cones, turn then often so they won't burn. The sap on the pinecones will melt and turn into a glaze.

Remove the cones once they are fully opened. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet. Repeat this process for more batches of pinecones.

Tips & Warnings

  • Choose newly fallen pinecones. Older cones can be rotten and full of insects.
  • Drying time in the oven varies depending on the amount of moisture in the pinecones, usually about 30 minutes or less. The time it takes for the first batch of cones to open will determine the times for the remaining ones.
  • Don’t turn the heat up in the oven more then 200 degrees, as this could cause smoking or fire. Do not leave the oven unattended while you are doing this.
  • After the pinecones are completely dried, clean and open, spray them with clear acrylic spray, spray varnish or polyurethane to preserve them. Make sure that the pinecone is thoroughly covered in a light spray.

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