If you live in an area where there are lots of pine cones around, you may think of them as just another piece of flora and fauna that hangs around your backyard or neighborhood. However, pine cones are actually sturdy and versatile tools that can come in handy in a wide variety of situations!
Keep reading to learn more about the many uses for pine cones, from arts and crafts to survival.
When you’re stuck in an outdoor survival situation, making use of what you can find in nature is of the utmost importance. There are numerous uses for pine cones out in the wilderness that can keep you safe in the event of an emergency.
1. Pine Cones as Food
Although it might sound odd, one of the best uses for pine cones in survival settings is to eat them!
Pine cones are full of protein, and they’re easily recognizable out in nature. These qualities often make them a safe and nutritious food in a survival situation.
Specifically, the pine seeds within the pine cone are what make a good food source. To get to the seeds, you’ll need to harvest them from the pine cone itself.
To harvest pine seeds, look for pine cones that haven’t opened up yet. In this stage of development, the pine seeds are still contained within the pine cone and therefore are easier to find.
If you have a fire going, all you need to do is place the pine cones near the fire, and the heat will do the job of opening the pine cone for you so that you can grab the seeds out of it.
If you don’t have a fire started, simply break off the top of the pine cone and shake the seeds out from the pine cone’s center. You can repeat this process again further down the pine cone to maximize the amount of seeds you can gather.
Once you’ve successfully harvested the pine seeds, you can eat them either raw or roasted over a fire.
2. Fire Starters
Perhaps one of the more unexpected uses for pine cones is that they make great fire starters!
Because pine resin is so flammable, pine cones can turn into small and convenient fire starters that are easy to carry with you if prepared properly.
While bare pine cones can make solid fire starters in survival situations, these wax-covered starters will burn longer and can start fires more quickly than a pine cone would on its own.
There are a few steps to making a fire starter out of a pine cone.
First, use a double boiler to heat up some paraffin wax over low heat until it melts.
Once it’s melted, remove the wax from the heat and let it cool for approximately ten minutes so that it has time to thicken.
Give it a good stir and then dip your pine cones into the wax, making sure that they’re evenly coated on every side.
Finally, set the wax-covered pine cones on some parchment paper and let them cool for 24 hours or so.
3. Makeshift Torches
To create this next survival tool, you’ll need a camping knife, a branch, some pine resin extracted from the bark of a pine tree, and one large pine cone.
Your first step is to find a branch and split the top of it so that you have a notch to hold the rest of the torch materials.
Next, take some pine resin and stick it in between the pine cone’s scales.
Then, put the pine cone in between the two sections of the split branch. If your pine cone won’t stay secure, use some smaller, more flexible branches as rope and tie it around the branch close to the pine cone.
Now it’s ready to light!
Next up in our list of uses for pine cones is pine cones as pest control. Pine cones can help your plants be happier and healthier in no time!
4. Houseplant Protection
Pine cones can provide a barrier to prevent fungus gnats from laying eggs in the soil, which makes them a great protector for houseplants.
All you need to do is place a layer of pine cones over the top of the soil!
Just keep in mind that because fungus gnats are attracted to damp surfaces, you’ll need to water the soil under the pine cones and not the pine cones themselves for this to be totally effective.
Using pine cones as mulch in your garden or backyard entails a similar scattering method to indoor plants.
Spread either full pine cones or pieces of broken-up pine cones in an even layer across the dirt, making sure that areas near the bases of trees and other large plants are especially covered. Covering the base in particular will protect the plant’s roots.
Benefits from the uses for pine cones as mulch includes keeping away larger animals from trampling your plants, repelling slugs, promoting moisture regulation of the soil, and helping to slow the effects of soil erosion.
Pine cones take a while to break down and are water resistant, so you’ll be able to leave them in place for a long time.
Once they do break down, the surrounding plants will benefit from the nutrients left by the decomposing pine cones.
It probably makes sense that pine cones are great resources outdoors, but did you know that there are uses for pine cones inside your house, too? Here are a couple of our favorite ideas of uses for pine cones as home decorations.
6. Scent Diffusers
Pine cones hold essential oils well, so you can use them as a natural alternative for other scented products!
To turn a pine cone into a scent diffuser, first stick your pine cones in a plastic bag.
Add three to five drops of essential oil to the bag depending on how strong you want the final scent to be.
For more even coverage, you can also mix your essential oil with a little bit of water, pour the mixture into a small spray bottle, and then spray the pine cones in the bag with this mixture. Shaking the pine cones around in the bag once it’s sealed also helps with scent coverage
Once you’ve covered the pine cones, close the bag and let them sit for up to a week for maximum scent absorption. Then set them around your house and enjoy the pleasant aroma!
7. Table Settings
Pine cones are a super simple and natural decoration for your next dinner party.
All you need to do is find or purchase some pine cones with their tops still intact.
Then create personalized place cards with each dinner guest’s name on them and balance one name card at the top of each pine cone.
Because these pine cones are going on a surface where food is served, if you picked up your pine cones from outdoors, you’ll want to sanitize them first.
You can pop them in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, checking on them often because they’re flammable.
If you want to skip the possibility of starting a fire, you can also soak them in soapy water or in a combination of water and bleach.
Backyard and Garden
From the middle of the forest to right outside your window, there are so many fun and helpful uses for pine cones outdoors! Here are a few specifically for your backyard and garden.
8. Bird Feeders
To optimize the amount of food per pine cone, remove some scales, which are the individual “branches” of the pine cone.
Next, spread peanut butter over the pine cone using a butter knife. You can also supplement with a popsicle stick to get in all the nooks and crannies.
Before the peanut butter dries, roll it in birdseed or other bird-friendly snacks.
Let the pine cone dry for a little while and then tie a string around the top of the pine cone so that you can hang it from a tree branch or somewhere else outdoors.
9. Compost Addition
You need a mix of green and brown for a successful compost pile, and pine cones can help with that!
This is one of the most eco-friendly and environmentally beneficial uses for pine cones because pine cones can also help provide additional nutrients that other composting materials may not contain.
It takes pine cones a lot longer to decompose than similar natural materials, so make sure they’re broken up into pieces before you throw them into the compost. You may need some help doing this with a shovel or similar tool.
Arts and Crafts
The next two items in our round-up are uses for pine cones that can bring out everyone’s creative side!
To create a beautiful and rustic pine cone wreath, all you need is a base and some floral wire.
The wreath base can be pretty much any material you want to match your aesthetic. Some examples are wire ring bases, grapevine wreaths, and dried moss wreaths.
Just collect any flora and fauna you want to add, including your pine cones, and attach them to the base using the floral wire.
11. Candle Holder
Out of all the uses for pine cones, this is one of the prettiest!
To turn a pine cone into a candle holder, take one large pine cone and cut the tip off of it so that the remaining base is flat.
At this point, you can place a tea light onto the base of the pine cone. For extra stability, secure the candle to the pine cone with super glue.
Exploring Uses for Pine Cones
There are so many uses for pine cones that they’re sure to come in handy somehow in your everyday life! Hopefully this round-up of some of our favorite tips and tricks for pine cone usage has inspired you to pick up a pine cone and give one of them a try. If you enjoyed reading our round-up of 11 amazing uses for pine cones, check out our Everyday Items page for similar ideas!