Do NOT use pine-cones as fire starters in your fireplace. When burned they emit creosote, a sticky residue that is highly flammable. It accumulates in your chimney and can cause a chimney fire.
By lindal from Vista, CA
Thanks for the safety tip - I've just shared that on 'twitter'as I thought more should know about it.
Interesting! I soaked mine in vinegar/water then dried them in a 200* oven for 2 hours. I wonder if this process helps to get rid of that residue. I used soy wax and dried twigs and stood the pine cone in it until it set. I gave them away as gifts so I hope it worked. The recipient loved them, but I will pass this along just in case.
So sorry to spoil this tip but it's not sap in pine cones or in wood that causes creosote. I learned this many years ago when I had a wood stove to heat a home I was renting and that same year my mom's home caught on fire caused by her wood stove chimney.
Sap is actually fuel and it helps produce more heat and it is heat that helps slow down creosote build-up. The actual cause of creosote build-up is the surface temperature of the flue. If the surface temperature of the flue is cool, it will cause the carbon particles in the flue gas/smoke to solidify.
A hot fire using 'completely dried' materials means a hot flue, and a hot flue means a lot less creosote. The draft created by the hotter fire moves the air up the chimney faster. Because it is moving faster, the flue gas does not have as much time to turn into creosote inside the chimney. But even if your fires always do burn hot, be sure to have your chimney cleaned every single spring because some creosote is going to build-up no matter what. :-)
There are lots of pine cones lying around on the ground at the moment. Use them to make free and very effective firelighters to light your woodburner or open fire. I soak them in used cooking oil to make them work even better. They smell great too.
By Mrs. Christmas from Slovenia EU
Wow. I've never heard of soaking them in used cooking oil before. A great way to recycle and make something needed! Thanks for sharing.
We use ours for camping.
Because pinecones can be picked up off the ground at this time of the year this is a very inexpensive holiday gift for your coworkers, friends or family. Scented pinecones can be used as fire starters or just put into a pretty bowl or by the fireplace to make the room smell nice.