Before the snow falls in late autumn, gather a basket of pinecones. On a blustery afternoon, turn them into kindling that will add color to your next fireplace blaze. Pour 1⁄2 gallon of hot water into a deep glass or plastic bowl, and then dissolve into the water 1 cup of one of the following household staples. (All ingredients can be found at grocery and health food stores.)
- Yellow flames—Table salt
- Yellow-green flames—Borax (20 Mule Team brand)
- White flames—Epsom salts
- Bright green flames—Alum (used in pickling)
- Violet flames—Potassium salt substitute
Fill the bowl of solution with pinecones and soak them for 6 hours. Remove the pinecones with tongs and spread them on a newspaper, allowing them to dry at least three days. Throw them on the fire as kindling and watch the magic.
*Keep the different chemicals (and their chemical solutions) separate, and burn the chemically treated pinecones separately as well.
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