Is it safe to burn pine cones in a wood stove, fireplace, or fire pit?
Yes, you can!
For the best results only burn dry pine cones – those which have opened up, rather than those that are still closed.
This is how you can tell whether or not a pine cone is ready to be burned.
How To Dry Pine Cones
In the top image, the pine cones are wet or unopened, but they have been off the tree for almost a year. They aren’t green.
All pine cones begin their lives like this and then open up or bloom to release their seed when dry. The parts that open up are called scales, and each scale has a seed.
In order to dry out pine cones, I simply lay them out in the sun on the concrete.
It took 2 or 3 hot days for the pine cones to completely open up, drop all the pine tree seeds (which the birds love), and become ready to burn.
As the pine cones are drying in the sun, you can hear them creaking and cracking as they open up. My dog gives them a very strange look.
Sometimes they even pop and can open up quite suddenly.
I have a friend who dries pines cones on his wood burner. He puts them into a metal ash bucket and then sets it on top of the log burner. He keeps it moving and apparently the pine cones will start popping like popcorn.
I haven’t tried that myself, but need to give it a go!
How To Burn Pine Cones
Once the pine cones have opened up they are ready to burn.
There’s nothing special you need to do – just chuck them on the fire. Whether you have a wood-burning stove, fireplace, or fire pit.
Dry pine cones burn very well and are great for starting fires. In fact, that’s all most people use them for. They burn so quickly that they’re not great to use a single or regular fuel source.
I use them for starting the fire inside, and for starting my fire pit fires. The top image is from a recent first cook on the Biolite Fire Pit while the lower is while using the cast iron fire pit.
Do not burn green, wet, or unopened pine cones as they will just smoke and act as a damper on your fire. If you’re burning them in a fireplace or wood stove, a lot more creosote will build up in the chimney as well.
Dry them out first for a fast, efficient, clean burn.
Using Pine Cones
Using pine cones as a fuel source makes a lot of sense.
In areas where there are forestry blocks, they are plentiful and easy to collect. They burn well and are a helpful resource for establishing fires.
They can also be a good little business opportunity for young people. Pine cones can be collected into sacks and sold from door to door in the community – I know, as there are kids who do this in my area.
So while pine cones are not the most amazing wood in terms of BTU output (they are no Ohio hardwood), they certainly have their place.