How To Bake Pine Cones To Prepare For Crafts and WHY?

In this post, I will guide you on the safe process of baking pine cones and prepare them for your crafting and decorating projects! 

During a recent visit to the mountains, I collected a variety of pine cones in different shapes and sizes, and I can’t wait to craft with them.

The different types of pine trees were something I had never seen in one place before, let alone the variety of fresh pine cones. I was in my glory, thinking of all the pine cone craft projects I could make. 

A Display of seven different kinds of pine cones found in Mammoth Lakes, CA.

If you bring pinecones into your home, It is important to clean and bake them first. (In my opinion, cleaning the pine cones is not enough without baking them) The heat is what kills the critters inside. 

 Now, it’s time to address the pesky bugs within them.

Assortment of different pine cones lying on the ground.

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Do You Need to Soak the Pine Cones Before Baking?

Before baking your pine cones, it’s essential to ensure they are clean. There are two different methods to achieve this:

How to Clean Pine Cones with Soap and Water:

  • Soak in Soapy Water: Fill a small bucket or large bowl with warm water and add a few drops of dish soap. Place pine cones in the soapy water. This will help remove dirt. Let them soak for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Scrub (if necessary): If your pine cones have any visible dirt or sap, gently scrub them with a small brush or an old toothbrush. Be careful not to damage the scales of the pine cones.
  • Rinse: After soaking, rinse the pine cones thoroughly with clean water to remove the soap.
  • Air drying: Lay the pine cones on paper towels on a cookie sheet and allow them to air dry before baking.  
Supplies needed to clean pine cones including vinegar and water.
Pine cones soaking in vinegar and water

How to Clean Pine Cones with Vinegar and Water before baking them:

  • Vinegar Solution: Mix a cup of vinegar and hot water in a large bowl or container. 
  • Soak the Pine Cones: Submerge the pine cones in the vinegar and water solution in a large bucket. Make sure they are fully covered. Let them soak for 30 minutes to an hour. The vinegar will help disinfect and soften the pine cones.
  • Scrub (if necessary): If your pine cones have stubborn dirt or sap, gently scrub them with a soft brush or toothbrush while in the vinegar solution. This will help remove any remaining debris.
  • Rinse: After soaking and scrubbing (if needed), remove the pine cones from the vinegar solution and rinse them thoroughly with clean water. 
  • Air-Dry Method: Allow the cones to dry on paper towels before baking. 

Baking Pine Cones

Supplies needed to Bake Pinecones 

  • Parchment paper or aluminum foil
  • Cookie sheet
  • Collected Pine Cones 

How To Bake Pinecones

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees. 
  • Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil. 
  • Place pinecones in a  single layer on an old baking sheet.
  • Bake the pinecones for 30 to 60 minutes, adjusting the time based on their size and moisture level. Keep in mind that larger pinecones might need more time in the oven.
  • Remove the pinecones and allow them to cool and air dry. 
Baking pinecones in the oven.

FAQ’s Often Asked About Pine Cones

Where Can I Find Pine Cones?

Here is my advice: never leave home without gardening gloves, clippers, and a ziplock bag. You never know when you are going to come across a few pinecones.

I found pinecones from 1″ long to 12″ long on a recent trip to the mountains.

Very large pine tree full of pine cones
Girl picking pinecones up off of the ground.

You can find pinecones in various places like: 

  1. Wooded Areas: Pinecones naturally fall from pine trees in forests, parks, mountains, and woodlands.
  2. Local Parks and Hiking Trails: Public parks and hiking trails often have pine trees that drop pinecones on the ground.
  3. Your Yard: If you have pine trees on your property, pinecones may litter your yard during Autumn.

What Happens When You Soak Pinecones in Water?

Pinecones will absorb the water and close a bit when you soak them in water. No worries, as you are baking the pine cones in the oven, they will open up as they dry out. 

How Long Do You Soak Pinecones? 

The answer to that question is 30-60 minutes. Read below for more details.

Why are we Baking Pine Cones?

​Baking pinecones is important for several reasons, especially when you plan to use them in crafts or decorations:

Jeffrey pinecone baking in the oven to disinfect.
  • Sanitization: Pinecones often harbor insects, larvae, and microorganisms, some of which can be harmful or unwanted in your home. Baking pinecones helps kill any insects and larvae that might be hiding inside, preventing potential infestations.
  • Dehydration: Pinecones can contain excess water, and this moisture can lead to mold growth or unpleasant odors if left untreated. Baking helps remove this moisture, preventing mold and ensuring the pinecones stay fresh.
  • Stability: Baking pinecones helps stabilize them, reducing the risk of them opening up, shedding, or disintegrating over time. This is important for long-lasting crafts and decorations.
  • Cleanliness: Baking helps remove dirt, dust, and natural resins or saps that may be present on the pinecones. Clean pinecones are more aesthetically pleasing and easier to work with in craft projects.
  • Scent Enhancement: Baking can enhance the natural scent of pinecones, making them a delightful addition to your decor, especially during the holiday season.
  • Crafting: Baked pinecones are less likely to attract little bugs, which is crucial if you’re using them in craft projects for indoor use.

What DIY Projects Can I Do with My Beautiful Pine Cones?

The Christmas tree is already in place, and we’re just waiting to add a few ornaments. I’m excited to use some free decor items, like pinecones, which I’ll clean and bake before trying out a variety of craft projects.

This year, I’m going for a woodland theme, incorporating pinecones for a rustic touch and making other holiday decorations.

Here are a few ideas I must make with my pine cones this year.

  • Pine cone wreath 
  • Cinnamon pine cones 
  • Winter decor- fill a basket with fresh pinecones by the fireplace 
  • Fresh green and pinecone swag
  • Pine Cone Tree
  • Bleached pine cone ornaments with velvet ribbon
Cone tree made out of pine cones
Pine cone ornaments hanging on a tree

I hope you found this article helpful in walking you through the pinecone baking process. With this knowledge, it’s time to dive into your holiday projects and bring your Christmas creations to life!


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Pinterest pin for how to bake pinecones. Images of pinecones and a pinecone wreath.

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  1. You certainly did find some beautiful pinecone shapes. In our area, I only see the long and narrow variety, but I am loving your full and roundish ones! My mom has a pine tree next door to her home, and she gave a bag to me last year to craft with. I did not clean them, but I did bake them. Now, I feel like I should have known to clean them… oh well, this years loot will be cleaned and baked thanks to your direction Wendy! I sprinkled a few in baskets, and our mantel for filler. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us!

    1. Oh, Cara, you have the long and skinny pinecones, the only kind I can’t get around here, LOL.
      I can buy them, but they are rather expensive. I am looking forward to enjoying them on our Christmas trees.
      I can’t wait to see what you do with them.

  2. Never though or up to now heard of baking pinecones. I grew up with pinecones and pinenuts.
    Thank you for sharing your links with us at #286 SSPS Linky. See you again next week.

    1. You learn something new everyday! have a great week.

    1. Thank you Susan for your love and support! You are a doll.

  3. This is great to know Wendy! Thanks so much for the instructions! Now, hopefully I’ll hit the mother load as well! I love pine cones!! XO

    1. Thank you, Susan. I am glad you found it informative. I hope you have a successful pinecone hunting day.
      I will keep my fingers crossed for you.

  4. Excellent guide for preping pine cones. When we lived by Fort Benning, my husband would bring home giant ones. I definitely needed to clean them well if for no other reason than to kill off the hidden bugs.

    1. Thank you, Linda, I am glad you found it informative. We certainly don’t want to bring those critters inside our homes. Have a beautiful week.

  5. Wendy,
    I’ve never baked pinecones before. Great idea. I’ll share with my readers on Sunday’s DRA.

  6. Hi Wendy! Love this post. I love to incorporate pine cones into my decor during the holidays. Especially when I can find them in my backyard! Thanks for the tip on baking them.

    1. Thank you, Anna, I will be coming out with a few DIY pinecone projects, so be on the lookout.

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