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How to Pick Clean Store Pine Cones for Your Fall and Winter Crafts

Learn how to pick clean store pine cones for your fall and winter crafts! These wonderful treasures are a gift from nature and beautiful on their own and stunning in crafts and displays.

If you have never harvested your own pine cones before you will be thrilled about how easy it is to pick, clean and store them.

How to Pick Clean Store Pine Cones - Picking

There are hundreds of different types of pine and spruce trees that have pine cones on them. (I will be calling the cones from both pine and spruce trees pine cones).  The sizes can range from tiny little ones to enormous giants. It really depends on what part of the country that you live in on the types of pine cones you will easily be able to find.

If you have a pine tree in your own back yard you might have been looking at the pine cones as a bother, not realizing that you can easily gather them up for crafts. I have neighbors that are thrilled when I ask them if I can gather pine cones from their property as it makes less yard work for them.

If you don't have your own tree or a neighbors tree that you can gather pine cones from, try looking in communal areas. My local grade school is filled with pine trees and again they are delighted that I pick them since that means less work for them. Local parks are another place that you can gather pine cones. 

I use to feel a bit shy when I was gathering pine cones in parks so I would just start doing it very early in the mornings when there wasn't anyone around. Now, I don't really care and often find people will come and ask me what I am doing and it is a great opportunity for me to encourage them to gather pine cones as well for their own crafts.

Depending on the type of pine or spruce they start dropping their pine cones at different times of the year. Some of them start dropping as soon as there is one or two really warm days, other need several days or even weeks of very hot weather for them to drop their pine cones.

I start looking for pine cones in June, because that is when a lot of the trees in my neighborhood start dropping their pine cones. I continue through out the summer as I gather many different varieties for my crafts.

I usually just grab a big basket and fill it with the pine cones I find underneath the tree. 

I will pick the pine cones directly from the tree if the pine cones are fully opened and if they come off the tree with a very gentle tug.

I am very picky at this point as I don't want anything that is damaged or looks old. The best time to pick is during warm weather and the worst time is during rain as the pine cones might close up and you can't see if they are a good specimen or not.

How to Pick Clean Store Pine Cones - Cleaning

Once I have my pine cones back home I want to clean them. I know that many craft sites suggest popping them into your oven on a low heat but I just can't bring myself to do this. For me an oven is for food and I don't want to contaminate it.

I find an easier method is to place the pine cones in a black garbage bag and place it out in the sun for a day.

I leave the bag a little bit open so if there are any creepy crawlies in the pine cones they have a way to escape. The heat gets rid of the bugs and helps open up the pine cones to their fullness. It is even better if you can place the black plastic bag on a black driveway that gets really hot but make sure it doesn't get so hot that the bag begins to melt!

I leave the bag full of pine cones out for a full day in the sun (sometime two if I forget about it) and them taking a smaller sized paint brush I give each pine cone a quick brush to get rid of any pine needles, seeds, dead bugs or sap. I try to pick pine cones that don't have any sap on them as I find it can be quite difficult to get rid of the sticky stuff.

How to Pick Clean Store Pine Cones - Storing

Once my pine cones are cleaned I just store them until I need them. To help me figure out what is where I always put them in clear garbage bags so I can quickly see what I have at a glance.
For smaller amounts I will use freezer bags.

I love making crafts where the materials that I use are FREE! Yay! I store these either in the basement or the garage, somewhere where I know that they can't get wet. It doesn't matter if they get cold other than the fact that some of them might start to close but just bring them inside to a warm room before you need them for crafting and they will open up again.

So what do I use my pine cones for? I will be posting fall and winter crafts closer to the season but here are a few ideas that I have! Enjoy crafting with pine cones!