Today I have some tips on how to dry and debug pine cones.

Or…as I prefer to call it…how to make pine cones pop.

Okay…some will make popping sounds and some won’t.  Anyways….

What we’re really trying to do is take those recently gathered pine cones, all closed up, damp from the rain and ground, dry them out and help them bloom (pop open) to their full potential.


Don't buy pine cones. Gather up some from nature's bounty and follow these easy directions to dry and debug pine cones. #pinecones


Pine cones are the flowers of the evergreen family.  You gotta love any flower that stays beautiful almost indefinitely after it blooms.  I have boxes and boxes of pine cones.  Many of them are from the Scotch Pine trees that used to rim my yard to the north when I lived in West Michigan.  I even have a few big ones from a visit to Florida several years ago.  I know…who carts pine cones from state to state?  Me.  Now you know how much my husband loves me. [wink]

Next door to where I’m currently living, is the home of a landscaper.  All the conifer plantings are mature, so his large yard has trees yielding a variety of pine cones right now.  I collected some the other day just after a rainy few days.

Because I am impatient, I decided to speed up Mother Nature’s process and bake my pine cones in the oven to make them bloom fully.  And because my collecting bag contained bugs as well as pine cones, I decided to roast any free riders.

I took a few cake pans and lined them with aluminum foil and placed my damp pine cones in the lined pans.  When you do this….allow plenty of room because your pine cones might double in size.  Then I covered the lined cake pans with more foil and snugged the aluminum foil around the pan.


Baked Pine Cones :: Dry and Debug Pine Cones :: How to Make #PineCones Pop ::


The oven was preheated to 300 degrees and the pans were placed in the oven.  If you’re looking for exact times….this isn’t the place.  How long does it take to dry and debug pine cones?  That’s anybody’s guess.  It depends on how wet or dry the pine cones are.  At some point when the pine cones were opened considerably, I removed the foiled ‘lids’ and returned the pine cones to the oven.  Essentially what I was doing was steam cleaning them.  Followed by a drying out.  Check the pans periodically…or if you get lost in your project like me, pull them out when you have baked the life out of your pine cones. [wink]

The beauty of my system is that all that sap on the pine cones melted off or melted on the pine cones and becomes a hard resin.  No more stickiness.  Yay!  Those that were really sticky originally looked all shiny and glossy after their sauna.

Now it’s time to decorate with pine cones!

I don’t do this because I don’t think it’s necessary.  But, if you want to have them be a little glossy, lightly spray them with a clear poly coat.

Yes…I can hear you ask the question.  “What are you going to do with all those pine cones?”  Good question.  There’s a wreath nearly finished and it’s nothing like you would expect.  It’s not even what I expected.  I guess you’ll have to come back to find out all about it. [wink]

Edited: Here is the finished “wreath.”

Don’t miss my post…

Terrific Tips for Preparing Acorns for Decorating and Crafting - AnExtraordinaryDay.netTips for Preparing Acorns for Crafting and Decorating.


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  1. Great tutorial. I made the mistake the first time I did this to not line my pan with foil. Yup, had to throw it out, it was runind:) Live and learn, huh.

    • LuAnn says

      I came to realize the effect of baking pine cones years ago. We had lots of pine trees bearing cones by a pond near our house. I had seen them often. A spontaneous fire occurred close to these trees. On a walk later, I discovered the cones were beautifully open and much fuller than on the previous visit. I imagine they were de-bugged, too! I never thought about that but they made beautiful wreaths when wired to a form. I had some wonderful free, handmade gifts to share that Christmas!!

      Thanks for a chance to recall a fond memory!

      God Bless

      • Diane says

        I bet your handmade gifts were a hit, too!!! It seems that this is also why we so much new growth after a forest fire.
        Thanks for stopping by to chat, LuAnn! Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
        Wishing you An Extraordinary Day!

    • Diane says

      Oh no!! I bet the pitch stuck to your pan. Yikes!! Hope it wasn’t a ‘good’ pan.

  2. Mel says

    Is this where I admit that I have soggy pine cones and was simply leaving them in the garage to freeze the critters and dry them out? Could take a while, huh?
    Perhaps I’ll drag them in tonight and give them a good roasting…though I don’t have the variety you’ve got.
    And NOW you have me wondering about the wreath!

    • Diane says

      No…this is the part where you have a bit of fun. Okay…maybe it isn’t ALL that exciting. But…it certainly is fun to see the pine cones “fluff” out so beautifully in such a short amount of time. And it so easy. Oh…maybe that’s the part I like. 😉 I bet that we enjoy different type of pine cones in different areas of the country. Hmmm…maybe we’ll have to exchange note on this…and maybe even ‘cones. 😉

      Haha…I’m still wondering about that wreath. 😉

  3. Carolyn says

    What a great tip! I had never thought about drying the cones or about them having sap. Guess my experience has been w/other types of cones.
    Well, Diane, I too have traipsed across state lines w/huge Louisiana pine cones from our cousin’s trees. We live in MO., & we drove so…all those huge cones taking up space amongst the suitcases & flea mkt purchases…my poor hubby was such a good sport about them.
    I’ve shared them w/my girls, enhanced wreaths, decorated the mantel, stuck some in the Christmas tree branches & underneath before the presents filled in. Some I sprayed gold, some I left natural, a few I might have spritzed w/a bit of white paint. They last forever & they have been a lot of fun…plus they’re the lightest in weight of all the Christmas décor that comes down from the attic each year! Enjoy…& be Blessed!

    • Diane says

      In the past I never used those “cigar” looking pine cones because they were so closed up and sappy. Roasting them makes a whole new beautiful cone to enjoy playing with. 😉 Thanks for sharing your pine cone stories, Carolyn!! I love hearing all the travels they went on and all the ways you decorate with them.
      Thanks for sharing, my sweet friend. 🙂

      May your week be filled with JOY!!

  4. Beth says

    You have a lovely assortment of pine cones. Looking forward to seeing your wreath!

    • Diane says

      Thanks Beth! Just so you know…it won’t be anything like you’d expect. 😉 LOL!! I’m still working on it…..

  5. I almost always bring some in for winter / christmas decor….never thought about bugs, lol …now I’ll worry 🙂

    • Diane says

      Don’t worry Deb! The bugs are usually minimal if the pine cones are pretty much dry when you find them. Mine were wet and even the collecting bag had bugs. LOL!

      • Shawn says

        Do you think one of those plastic roasting bags or even a crock pot liner would work to heat them in? Instead of a foil lined pan? 🙂 Want to try this with some kids- and I need to debug them beforehand.

        • Hi, Shawn!
          I’m thinking that if you have them in a bag, the pine cones will be steamed rather than dried. Probably good for the bugs, but not-so-good for making them pop open and dry their sap. Have fun creating with your kids!

  6. Sandi says

    Thanks for the tip about using tin foil. Love pinecones!


    • Diane says

      Glad it was helpful, Sandi! I’m quite a fan of pine cones, too!!!

  7. sarah says

    Where is the after photo ?

    • Diane says

      Haha! Sarah…this is the in between photo. From being closed they opened this much while being steamed. They opened just a little bit further, but I forgot to take a photo because I was in the midst of a project and started using them. Oops!!
      Hope your day is Extraordinary!!

  8. sarah says

    Oh idk that ? I have baked pine cones in the oven . foil on sheet pan .I didnt cover them though . The dryer they become the more they open . And smell heavenly too . I was wondering when you said steam them if they came out bigger or somthing . I hope you have a god day as well . XO

    SARAH : )

    • Diane says

      Sarah…I don’t think they come out bigger…I just think that the steam cleans them better of the bugs and I think they look prettier. Maybe it’s just my imagination. And if there are any bugs…I don’t want them to be in my oven…the foil covering keeps them in the container until they croak. 😉

  9. I found your post at the Thursday Favourite Things Blog Hop. My kids and I collected pine cones this year, hoping to use them for crafts. I love this post about how to get them to open! Thank you so much for sharing this!

    • Diane says

      What a fun family activity, Missy!! 🙂
      Glad the post was helpful!
      Happy Crafting!!

  10. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. says

    You know you can never have too many pinecones Diane. I would definitely tote pinecones across state lines too! Love the drying tips to make them pop. And now I have that song stuck in my head … pine cones roasting on an open fire. Okay, so maybe those aren’t quite the right words, but it sounds pretty good, don’t you think!

    • Diane says

      Sharon….your lyrics work for me! [wink] I’m pleased to know I’m in good company when it comes to toting pinecones all over the country!! Speaking of open fire….it’s pretty chilly tonight…that sounds wonderful!!

  11. I enjoy pinecones also and never thought of picking up the closed one’s and make them bloom! Cook info! Thanks for linking to TTF!

    • Diane says

      I’m so glad the tip helps…
      Thanks for the kind words!

  12. Wonderful tips! I never really thought about preparing pinecones, but this is all really good to know!

    • Diane says

      Awww..Bethany I am so happy to hear that this might be helpful to you. 🙂
      Wishing you an extraordinary weekend!

  13. Carol says

    What a great idea! Pinecones here in the desert don’t require a lot of drying out, but I do like the idea for getting rid of the creepy crawlers (we have plenty of those).

    • Diane says

      Thanks Carol!! I’m sure your pine cones get pretty baked some days. 😉
      Wishing you An Extraordinary Day!

  14. This is such a great idea! I love decorating with pine cones! We would love to have you share this at our weekly Super Saturday Link Party at


    • Diane says

      Thanks Debbie for your kind words and for your invitation!
      Best wishes for An Extraordinary Day!

  15. What a great tip and idea. Thanks so much for linking up to Tickled Pink Times Two. Make it a pink day.

  16. Jenna says

    Very interesting! Thanks for the tip!

  17. Judy says

    Thanks for tutorial, Diane. I have often collected pine cones only to throw them out when the bugs appeared. This will take care of the problem and I’m going to forage tomorrow..Happy Weekend..Judy

    • Diane says

      You are so welcome Judy! I’m grateful that this will be helpful to you. 🙂 Going foraging is one of my most favorite activities. 🙂 Enjoy!!
      Wishing you An Extraordinary Day!!

  18. Debby Ray says

    What a great idea! I love to decorate with pine cones and I never thought about this….LOVE this great idea! Thanks for sharing !

    • Diane says

      Debby…so often in the past I would pass by pine cones that were not open…but not any more!!
      Thanks for popping over and leaving your kind words. 🙂
      Wishing you An Extraordinary Day!

  19. Terri says

    This is great–thanks for sharing! I’m so excited that the weather is getting cooler and I can decorate with pine cones again!

    • Diane says

      You are so welcome Terri!!
      Pine cones are so fun to decorate with.
      Happy decorating!!!

  20. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

    • Diane says

      Thank you Jill!! I was hoping it would be helpful.
      Wishing you An Extraordinary Day!

  21. Diane says

    Hi lovely lady.
    I love your Idea to dry the Pine Cones. I am new on your blog and will be coming back to see you, hoping you and your family have a wonderful week, come see me if you can.

    • Diane says

      Welcome lovely Diane!! I’m so happy that you are gracing us with your presence here.
      Glad you found the pine cone drying tip helpful. Now when you see a damp pine cone you don’t need to think twice about picking it up to use.

  22. Nancy says

    When I lived in MI I carted Pinecones home from Seattle. Now I live in WA, and thanks for the tips on making them Blossom. When I do this process I will time them between us maybe we can come up with the Recipe!

    Huggs, Nancy

    • Diane says

      I’m thinking you had some really large cones to cart home from Seattle, Nancy. Glad to hear I’m not the only pine cone passionate lady. 😉

  23. I love anything to do with pinecones. And they’re free!

    • Diane says

      They are the most amazing free craft and decor item around. Gotta love ’em!!
      Blessings, Cheryl!

  24. Kathy says

    I’ve been doing this too – it is a wonderful way to dry out pine cones. I am looking for more natural decor this year. Great post! I do apprecate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,

    • Diane says

      I’ll be looking forward to seeing your natural decor on the blog, Kathy!
      I know you’ll have so much fun putting all your sweet touches around the house for the holidays!

  25. Cindy says

    Thank you for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!

    • Diane says

      You are the hostess with the mostess!!!
      Wishing you an Extraordinary weekend, Cindy!! 🙂

  26. Linda says

    I want to see the wreath with the pine cones for sure. I love collecting pine cones but when they are wet they are all closed up. I put them in the microwave sometimes. That smells up the microwave really badly. 🙂 It kills the bugs, too. have a creative week! Linda

    • Diane says

      It’s coming….I’m working on that post now. 😉
      Baking the pine cones makes for an aroma in the house that reminds me of the smell of fresh cut wood. I like it. 🙂

  27. Shirley says

    I collect the smaller ones and they open. I take them and put wire tucked in the base of the cone. Than I take and put them in warm water so they will close. After I take them out of the water I will wire them on to the wire wreath. What this does is when the cone opens they enter twine with each other and makes for a tighter wreath. Any way that works for me. God Bless!

    • Diane says

      Shirley…I really appreciate your tip. What a great idea. I’m going to file that one away for safekeeping. Thank you so very much!!!

  28. Wesa says

    Hi Diane and All!!

    I just found your blog/post and I’m so glad I did! Not just because of the great tutorial and info – thank you! – but also for being in such great creative and like-minded company. 🙂 I have a lifetime love affair with pine trees and pine cones, so wanting to decorate with them year round comes naturally to me, but this year, it’s more of a necessity.

    You see, though I’m not a “Christmas-y” person (I’m a nature based, seasonal kind of person), my husband is, so we put up a Christmas tree every year. Well, this year we can’t because a few months ago we became a rescue and foster home for abandoned kittens for our local shelter as well as for those that just show up on our door step (more than you might think). So, this holiday season, we have a houseful of kittens and cats ranging in age from just over two weeks that have to be bottle fed every few hours (they just opened their eyes a few days ago) to a year and a half old – we literally have 25 cats in our house, but before you think, “OMG, the smell must be horrible!?”, know that we use top of the line litter, the boxes are done every couple of hours, the cats are bathed regularly, the cages are cleaned daily, the house is vacuumed daily, and steam mopoed weekly, lol. We work very hard to keep it clean and every stranfer that walks in tells us that they wouldn’t know we had one cat let alone 25. 😀 Anyhow, I digress, lol.

    As you can imagine, a Christmas tree amidst all these furry family members would quickly equal disaster, lol. So, even though my husband is not a fan of pine trees or pine cones – yes, I know he’s crazy and I’ve often wondered “what was I thinking?” for that very reason lol – I talked him into us making some pine cone trees and hanging up pine cones on strung up lights around the house as our holiday decor this year as a safer compromise for ourselves and the furry family members. So, with all that said, the sap is one of the things he hates about pine cones – again, my husband is nuts, lol – and we both are not quite bug-friendly, so this will work wonderfully to help me prepare and preserve the beautiful bounty that Mother Earth has provided for us to enjoy inside and out throughout the year and throughout the season.

    Thank you again so much for this and you definitely have a new fan! Oh and since I’m obviously coming to this thread a bit late as it’s from last year, have you posted the wreath yet? I’ve always wanted to make one, so I’d really love to see how your it’s-not-what-you’re-expecting wreath came out! 😀 Thanks a million and Blessed Be!!


    • Diane says

      Wesa…as a cat lover I applaud you on your care for the abandoned kitties. 🙂
      I recently read a tip, which I haven’t been able to put to use as our kitties are now in kitty heaven, but it was to use the wood pellets that are used for burning in wood furnaces for the litter. Evidently it’s safer for them (commercial litter actually is hazardous to their health, I guess) and doesn’t smell, and is incredibly more low cost to use.
      Haha…I can only imagine a Christmas tree with all those felines running about. DISASTER waiting to happen, for sure! I love your idea for pine cone trees. I just happened on the sap cure when I was try to make the pine cones pop and get rid of any bugs. Some of the pine cones become shiny from the dried sap. It’s pretty cool.
      Yes… I did a post on my wreath… it’s “different.” Here’s the link:
      Thanks so much for popping by, leaving your kind words, and sharing your story. Hope your weekend is extraordinary!

      • Wesa says

        Diane 🙂

        I’m sorry for your losses 🙁 Thank you for the compliments on our care of the kittens. We sure do love these lil boogers! We’ve actually tried the pine chunks/pellets as litter, and while they do cost less, they don’t clump well for the urine and it ends up making a huge mess and stink. Though I wish there was something better for them we could use, the best for them and us is the Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal – it really is as awesome as it says it is on TV.

        Yes, a real or artificial tree would be disastrous with all these furry critters running around, so pine cone trees it is, which is why I’m so glad I found your post (I wasn’t actually looking for how to bake them, I was looking for why you bake them, and I’m so glad I did). One of the main reasons I’m so glad I found your post, especially after seeing and reading about your beautiful wreath – thank you for the link – is because I’m not a fan of using paint or chemicals on Mother Earth’s gifts, such as painting wood, unless absolutely necessary, and even then I will fight to the death not to. So, knowing that baking the pine cones will make their sap shine so beautifully means that I won’t have to spray any preservative on them at all and that I love even more! So, thank you again!

        Have a great weekend as well and I’ll be checking out more of your extraordinary posts along the way! 🙂


        PS…My name Wesa is my Native American name that I often go by unless necessary for governmental purposes. But I wanted to point out a funny commonality between us…my given middle name is Diane and my husband’s name is also Tim. Just thought you’d enjoy that 🙂

        • Diane says

          Thanks for you kind thoughts Wesa. And for hearing about the pellets, too. I wondered. 🙂
          And I loved hearing about your name. Makes me smile!
          Wishing you a beautiful day!

  29. Cathy says

    Hi Dianne, I really enjoy your blog!

    Just wondering if you have any experience (and I imagine you do!) working with tree/shrub branches for indoor crafts? I’ve trimmed a dogwood shrub and would like to use the branches for some crafts but don’t want to bring any little critters inside that may have been beginning to hibernate and come out when they are warm again inside! Should I do the same as you did with the pine cones to avoid this?


    • Diane says

      Awww…thanks so much Cathy!! I so happy that you’ve stopped by. 🙂
      Yes…I don’t worry about branches. I’ve used dogwood shrubs often…I love their red branches and I haven’t had any trouble with critters. Actually I haven’t had much trouble with pine cones for the most part. But, when it’s been wet it seems like those are the years where I’ve had little bugs come out of the pine cones. So baking them does two things…plumps the cones and eradicate the free riders. 😉 If you’re worried…just run a damp cloth over the branches and you’ll get rid of anything that might be there. Have fun decorating with branches!!
      Best wishes for an extraordinary week!

  30. Samantha says

    I have a very large ornament that doesn’t fit our tree. It’s so big that it has become a tradition for us to “top” our tree with this super large snowy deer. I want to make him a little field at the top of our tree with sticks and pinecones from our yard. I can’t wait to try this with the pinecones. Would this method be effective for sticks I want to use (and have last) in the tree topper as far as drying and debugging? Thank you so much for this tutorial, in the mean time 🙂 Happy crafting!

    • That sounds so fun Samantha!! What a great idea!
      I would think it would work the same for sticks as it does for pinecones.
      Thanks for stopping by… 🙂 Happy Crafting!

  31. Megan says

    Will baking the pine cones leave an odor in my oven? I’m sure the house will smell great, but I don’t want 6 months of pine-flavored/scented baked goods!

    • No, Megan, you don’t need to worry about your oven. It’s just like baking anything emitting pleasant aromas.

      All the best for an extraordinary day of creativity!

  32. Susie says

    My pine cones were beautifully opened. I mixed clove oil with water sprayed them and sealed them in a zip lock bag. Well, now they all closed up again.
    If I put them in the oven will they reopen?

    • Yes, pop them back in the oven for a bit and they’ll open up. Spraying them with water and sealing them in the bag made them close up. But, I bet your house will smell amazing when you re-dry them in the oven.

      • Susie says

        When I put them in the oven will it burn the scent out? I wanted to put them in baskets as scented pine cones. Thank you for such a prompt reply,

        • Susie… Sorry to be so late in getting back to you… just getting on my laptop now after a busy day.
          I’m not sure if the heat will dry out the scent too… but let me get back with you in a bit. I remember seeing something not long ago…

        • Susie… if they don’t retain their aroma after you re-dry them… re-scent them… but only with the oil… no water. The scent should be a bit stronger and longer lasting that way too. Let me know how it goes. (Sorry to be so long in getting back… crazy time of the year!!)

          • Susie says

            Thank you so much I’ll let you know how they turn out.
            What’s so funny is I Googled how to scent them and I did exactly what they said and it never said that they would close back up. I understand it’s a busy time of year no worries whatsoever. Thanks,

  33. Laurie says

    Has anyone ever had the cones only partially open up? I soaked them and put on foil in oven for a long time. And am trying again today. The cones only opened a little bit. Many were closed from soaking them. I’m hoping for good luck this time.

    • Laurie… I have never soaked my pine cones as moisture makes them close up and I want them to open (and I want to kill any bugs in them). I usually just pop them in the oven and heat them. I would suggest waiting a day and then placing them in the oven again. What was the purpose of soaking them first?

  34. Kathy says

    Laurie, I soaked ours too in order to make colored burning pinecones for my daughter to sell as Christmas crafts. I had no idea they’d close up! Now I’m worried about roasting them with the chemicals in them (4 different batches – borax, Epsom, potassium chloride, and sodium chloride). They are in the house drying but I may try the oven tonight. We still need to wax coat as well. I’m really hoping this project comes together as she wants to earn a little spending money! 10/22/19


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