Saturday, 21 December 2013

Coneheads–Or “How Martha Stewart Misled Me”


Not these cones [left] but these


I have a large box of pinecones in the loft [leftover from a children’s craft project at Church] so when I was reading one of my old Martha Stewart Magazines recently, and found an article about cones, I read it very carefully. MS maintained that if you soak cones in a solution of Epsom Salts [MgSO4] then when you put them on the fire they will burn with ‘attractive coloured flames’. As Adrian and Marion have a lovely wood burning stove, I thought “This would be a great gift to take on Christmas Day – we can watch the pretty flames, and it will add extra magic and sparkle to the evening”

So I bought a tub of Magnesium Sulphate from the chemist


I made up some solution and put the cones into it. They floated!


I weighted them down by putting a box on top full of cans


After 24 hours, I fished them out [and put a second lot of cones in] and left them to dry. Notice how they have all closed up tightly.


“We should test them before we give them to Marion” said Bob [He is an intelligent chap] So when we got back from Thursday’s School Carol Service he started a fire in the little BBQ . Notice his Christmas Tie dangling precariously near the flames [maybe he’s not that intelligent, then]


These just look like bright flames to me! I’d expected rainbow colours. They are bright, but not as spectacular as I had hoped. I was somewhat disappointed and felt Martha had raised my expectations unfairly.


Further internet research later tells me that MgSO4 will burn with a white flame although some websites says MgSO4 gives a red flame[for blue you need copper chloride, and for green, use copper sulphate] However, I shall bag these up anyway and take them to Norfolk with me next week.

“Gathering winter fuel” is, after all, a good Christmas tradition.


  1. Well I hadn't heard of that one, they certainly did burn brightly. In the past I've dipped open pine cones into melted candle wax to make pretty fire lighters, bagged up in see through poly bags (the sort that magazines or junk mail comes in) and tied with some curling ribboon they sell well at Christmas Bazaars. I'm sure you will enjoy the bright addition to your Christmas Day, Vee xx

  2. It's the thought that counts.......
    Hope you will have a lovely relaxed time in Cornerstones.

  3. Hmmm, pine cones look pretty and give a good crackle on a fire but the residue isn't good for the chimney.
    Jane x

  4. Very funny, I read this with one eye closed as I was waiting for a very loud bang! Thankfully it was more controlled than that though Bob's tie did have potential the way it was dangling over the barbecue. I am sure your recipients will love the thought no matter what. Have a wonderful Christmas.


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