Throw a couple of these on your roaring winter fire and impress the kids.
- Pour 1/2 gallon of hot water into a deep glass or plastic bowl.
- Dissolve 8 ounces of any one of the following chemicals in the water: alum (thallium) for a bright green flame, strontium chloride for a bright red flame, boric acid for a deep red flame, calcium for a reddish-orange flame, calcium chloride for a yellowish-orange flame, table salt for a yellow flame, borax (sodium tetraborate) for a yellow-green flame, blue vitriol (copper sulfate) or barium for a green flame, saltpeter (potassium nitrate) for a violet flame, or Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) for a white flame.
- Soak the pine cones in the solution for 6 hours.
- Dry them for at least three days in a warm, dry area on newspaper or hang in a mesh bag.
To get the pine cones looking their best, heat them in the oven at 225 degrees F on a foil-covered cookie sheet. They will open all the way and look fuller.
Use only one salt or compound for color.
Be very careful handling these chemicals and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Some compounds can be poisonous if mishandled.