Pine cones are an inexpensive way to decorate seasonally. Arranged in a basket or vase by the front door, they invoke the holidays without putting out the hardcore Christmas decorations before a flake of snow has been forecast. Increase the warm and cozy factor this year with DIY cinnamon-scented pine cones.
If you have pine trees in your yard, you won’t have to go far to gather these harbingers of fall, but neighbors or parks can also be good sources. Select pine cones of similar size without indication of insect presence or damage. Don’t worry about finding cones with open “petals.” Pine cones close when damp and will open when dried.
Fill a large bowl or sink with warm water and add a little dishwashing detergent. Submerge pine cones and agitate to release any loose debris, dirt or stowaways.
Rinse pine cones thoroughly. You’ll notice the pine cones have closed up when placed in water, but will blossom in upcoming steps.
Shake away excess water and pick out any lingering pine needles.
Line baking sheets with aluminum foil and arrange pine cones in a single layer. Sap may be released during the baking process, so foil is recommended to protect the trays from damage.
Heat the oven to 200 degrees and set a timer for 45 minutes. Low temperature baking will remove the moisture to open up the pine cones, does away with sticky sap and will kill off any tiny bugs that may have made it this far.
After 45 minutes, check to see if the pine cones have opened up. If not, turn over with tongs and continue to bake, checking every 15 minutes or so until they appear ready. Depending on the size and density of the pine cones, this can take a couple of hours or longer.
In a spray bottle, add about 20 drops of cinnamon essential oil to ½ cup of warm water. Cinnamon is a soothing scent associated with the holidays and pairs well with pine, but other scents like sandalwood or rosemary may be used as well.
As soon as the pine cones have come out of the oven, lightly spray with cinnamon/water. Turn over and spray to completely cover. The more spray used, the stronger the scent will be. Especially when displayed in small spaces, a little can go a long way.
Your scented pine cones could be set out immediately, but a few days in airtight storage will help intensify the scent and extend longevity. If you’ve made a small batch, you can place in gallon sized ziploc bags, but a 5 gallon construction bucket with a lid is perfect for larger batches.
Two to three days may be enough time for the pine cones to absorb the cinnamon, but waiting as long as two weeks will produce a scented pine cone that will keep the smell of the holidays going until it’s time to pack up the ornaments. If the cinnamon does start to fade, respray as needed.
Place a few cinnamon-scented pine cones in a basket in the foyer or corner of the living room, use in holiday displays or pass along to friends to share the spirit of the season.
Originally: DIY Cinnamon-Scented Pine Cones