Using Borax for Cut Christmas Tree Care

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While an artificial tree stays forever green, a real Christmas tree can dry out and not only look unattractive, but can also pose a fire hazard. Adding borax to the tree's water can help to keep the tree moist.

It all starts with choosing a healthy fresh cut tree from the tree farm or lot. Then, once you get the tree safely home, proper care for your tree through the season will help maintain the tree's freshness and scent.


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Using a Christmas tree solution with borax can help water flow throughout the entire tree. Here's how.

Christmas tree preservative recipe

You can make a simple Christmas tree water recipe from the U.S. Forest Service with ingredients found in your grocery and garden store, including borax. Borax, or sodium borate, is readily available in the cleaning or laundry sections of many stores. The boron in borax is what helps the water move throughout the tree.


Start with a large bucket with 2 gallons of hot water. Then, add the following ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp. borax
  • 2 cups of corn syrup
  • 2 oz. bleach
  • 2 pinches Epsom salt
  • 1 tsp. chelated iron, which you can purchase in most garden stores


The sugar in the corn syrup helps the tree absorb more water, and the bleach is a disinfectant that stops mold growth, a common problem when sugar water stands for a long period of time. The Epsom salt and iron in this homemade Christmas tree preservative provide magnesium to help maintain green needles.



The National Christmas Tree Association notes that additives, including borax, lemon juice, Sprite or bleach, are not necessary. You can also keep your tree fresh this holiday season with plain water.

Setting up your Christmas tree

Before using your homemade Christmas tree water, prepare your tree. If the tree is freshly cut within the last 12 hours, you can put the tree straight in a bucket with water or the Christmas tree mixture to keep it fresh. Otherwise, you need to cut up to 1 inch from the bottom of the trunk so that it is better able to absorb the water.


Then, move it indoors to the Christmas tree stand when you are ready. Make sure the tree stand is a good size for your tree.


A good rule of thumb is that the water basin hold at least 1 gallon of water. Aim for 1 quart of water for every inch diameter of the tree trunk.

In addition, the stand should be large enough to hold the trunk of the tree without having to cut the trunk to force it to fit.



When you move the tree indoors, fill the water basin with the borax DIY tree preservative. Check the water level of the basin twice a day and top off the mixture to make sure the basin never dries out. If you want to automate this, consider purchasing a Christmas tree waterer. Check the instructions to make sure it is safe to add water with additives into the system.


Protect against fire

This borax recipe for keeping your Christmas tree fresh also helps protect against fire. When considering how to fireproof a Christmas tree, one of the most important factors is ensuring that the needles of the tree don't dry out.


Make sure to position the tree away from the fireplace, where sparks may ignite dry needles. The heat from the fireplace also contributes to drawing moisture out of the tree. Other things that can have a drying effect on the tree include:

  • Direct sunlight
  • Heating vents
  • Space heaters

In addition, be sure to use LED light strings. These lights are safer, as they do not heat up as much as other bulbs. They may be more expensive to purchase initially, but they are more energy-efficient compared to other bulbs.

Now you're ready to enjoy a beautiful, safe Christmas tree during the entire holiday season.



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