How to Make Scented Pine Cones

Pine cones are the cheapest, easiest way to make your house feel all wintery and seasonal. Take a quick walk around your neighbourhood and chances are you’ll find enough of these tree poops to make all kinds of pine cone crafts with them.

Scented pine cones are simple enough to find if you want to buy them. And they’re cheap too. You could easily take a $5 bill down to your local dollar store and still have money left over for some candy and a budget pregnancy test.

Just follow your nose around the store until your eyes start to water from the cinnamon smell. There you will find the scented pinecones.

If you want something OTHER than cinnamon scented pine cones it’s time for you to take a walk around the block.

I’ll wait here while you go gather some pine cones.

You’re still here? O.K., you’re going to finish reading the post before you go – I respect that. But at the end of it you need to go find some pine cones before they’re all covered up with snow.

Which is exactly what Lip and I did last week. I grabbed a basket – both functional and Instagram friendly – and walked a couple of blocks around my neighbourhood looking for evergreens.

When do pine cones fall?

Trees start dropping their pine cones around September and continue until about December. Depends on the weather. But with autumn comes pine cone season.

Pine cones are the perfect fall or winter decoration. They’re earthy and cozy which means you’re hitting all the main components of hygge with them.

Pretty, right? Yeah, they’re full of bugs and guck. So if you’re going to use pine cones for crafts you have clean out any bugs.

How to clean them

  1. Soak the pine cones in warm water and swish them around. Leave them for 1/2 hour or so then drain them into the sink and rinse.
  1. Let them air dry for a bit then put them in a 200 F oven until they’re dried out completely and you can see them opening up. Most sites recommend drying in the oven for 1 hour, but if you’ve properly soaked them an hour isn’t nearly long enough to dry them out. I dried mine for 1 hour in the oven and then turned the oven off and left them in there overnight.

By now your pine cone condos should be clean, opened up and critter free.

Some cones will open up more than others.

Making Scented Pine Cones

  1. Once you’ve cleaned your pine cones (with the instructions above) you can move onto scenting them.
  2. Grab any essential oil that you like the smell of – orange and clove would be REALLY nice.
  3. Put the cones into a plastic Ziplock bag or reusable bin. Shake 1-2 drops of essential oil onto each pine cone. Close or cover the container completely and store them away for 2 weeks so the scent gets a really good chance to penetrate them.
  4. After 2 weeks put your pine cones on a tray or in a bowl and set them away from where pets can reach them.

*KEEP the container you used because it will be what you keep your pine cones in from year to year.* Essential oil stink is going to stay in the plastic so even though it won’t be good for anything else, it’s perfect for storing your pine cones year to year.


Since I didn’t want cinnamon scented pine cones for a variety of reasons, I searched for what I think we can all unanimously agree is the best Christmas scent of all time – Thymes Frasier Fir.

I don’t have children but the delivery of my Thymes Frasier Fir essential oil was one of the best days of my life. That and the day I stalked Ikea until I stole all the information I needed to make an Ikea hot dog at home myself.

You can use whatever essential oil you want obviously but if you have pets don’t make it too strong (keep it to 1 drop per pine cone at the most) and always keep the scented cones well above where a pet can get to it or be bothered by the smell.

More on how I mildly poisoned my dog in another post.

Yep. #1 dog owner right here.

Other ideas for using scented pine cones

If you went a bit overboard on your great pine cone hunt and find that you have enough of them to build a Christmas tree but don’t have the ambition to build a Christmas tree – you can use them for other things.

Hang them from door knobs, the shower head, or off just about anything including presents. Here I’ve used hot glue to turn them into a bow but they look (and smell) good hanging from ribbon on a present.

The scent will fade, so if you notice that after a few weeks, just repeat the process of adding some oil and sealing them up for a bit.

For a quick fix you can just add a few drops of oil to them in their bowl OR you can sprinkle several drops onto a cotton ball and hide that in the pine cones.

There you have it; cheap and easy DIY scented pine cones – ready and waiting for winter.

How to Make Scented Pine Cones

21 Comments

  1. Deborah says:

    Looks like a great project, thank you! I am really excited to learn about that oil too, it sounds heavenly!

  2. Marlaine Bernier says:

    Some oils are not good for dogs, and so far I don’t know of any that are good for cats. As it floats through the air, it lands on their fur, then when they groom they may wind up getting sick. If you have a dog or cat, it might be best to enjoy the cones without adding anything to them.

  3. Marci says:

    I put the conifer cones in a plastic bag and microwave on high for 1.5 minutes. This does three things 1) kills are the critters 2) melts all the white sap and it dries clear and shiny and 3) makes your house small awesome for a bit. Plus much quicker.

  4. Joan Gordon says:

    Yay! A new Christmas craft to try. Already got my Amaryllis bulbs ready to wax and gild. That winner has become an annual favorite.

    • margaret voorhaar says:

      Joan there is no sign of life from my amaryllis attempt. It is two weeks now. Another which I planted the “regular” way is going full throttle.
      Reputable vendor. Must have been my technique.

  5. Gail Dedrick says:

    Why anyone wants to adulterate the natural smell of a pine cone to cinnamon is beyond me. The cinnamon ones make me gag. I’ve fled stores because of them.

  6. Bob Wilson says:

    Good morning Karen:
    I have to take exception to the title of your post “How To Make Scented Pine Cones”. Most of the cones in the pictures are actually spruce cones, with a few hemlock cones (the little ones). The only pine cones are the ones attached to the pitchers.
    I acknowledge that most people refer to ALL cones as “pine cones”. I promise not to mention the above when I am talking to SC next month.
    I enjoy your articles. Thank you, hugs.

  7. MindyK says:

    Thymes Frasier Fir *is* the best holiday scent! I had no idea it was available as an oil, but a bottle is on its way. I usually dunk my yard’s giant supply of pinecones in wax to make fire starters, but love the idea of scenting some, too. Great tip, thanks!

  8. Mary W says:

    LOVE the idea of jar necklaces! My pantry, by necessity due to small house, is an open shelved large hutch. In my living room. So the jars of food just hang out with everyone that comes in. I want to hang jar necklaces on several so it is more festive. I could also string them from the chandelier in the kitchen/living room/dining room/pantry/spare bedroom (as couch folds out into torture chamber). Also growing light seed starter ledge, craft/homework/cards fold out table used by anyone daring to come, grandkids daily, crafters occasionally, TV watchers usually sick grands, pet watching service for family dogs that roost on window benches with parakeet. Happy, normal, hoarders home where tiny, festive, classy things are most welcome. Thanks!

  9. Randy P says:

    Thanks for checking in with a new posting. I wuz worried the dog got hungry and ate ya’ Cujo style or sumthin’. The pup looks true to my motto of ‘Go big or go home’.

    I too share the “Enough with the cinnamon smell already” hazard of shopping during the Xmas season, which seems to start these days a few hours after the Halloween candy comes off the shelves. The essential oil decor tips are great, even for us non-decorating heathens. Again Thank You and I hope all is well over there in Canadia.

  10. Jean Clayton says:

    I’m loving your footed bowl! Thanks for still blogging. I love your posts

  11. Heather says:

    Thanks for the idea. I’ll make these for my daughters for Christmas.

  12. Mary says:

    Those are spruce cones, not pine cones in “how to”. The images for pine bows and Christmas decorations are pine cones. Pine cones drop from the tree much harder and drier so there’s less chance of bugs and such setting up housekeeping.

    I 100% agree with you on Thymes Frasier Fir scent. Because of you, I scored last Christmas with the best gift for my sister ever: Frasier Fir scented candles. Thank you!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary! Thanks. :) Yes, I know, but people still refer to them as pine cones so that’s how I refer to them. Didn’t know the pine cones drop drier though ~ karen!

  13. Penny says:

    I love this post, and I have two carrier bags full of pine cones that have been hanging up in my garage for a couple of years now. (incipient hoarding tendencies, judge me if you must)
    Karen, do you think that I can dispense with the soaking and oven drying and can get straight on with applying the oils? The cones don’t have any smell that I can detect, and all that has fallen out of them is a scattering of seeds.

  14. Nanette says:

    Non-pinecone question: do you make your own garland? I like the little one over your picture. If so, what post is it in?

    I always decorate with pinecones from the yard… inside and out. You gave me some terrific inspiration!

  15. Benjamin Hepple says:

    That dog is not only cute but I can tell he loves to help his mom doing stuff. 🪓

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