How to Preserve Pine Branches

Pine branches are perfect to decorate with, in whatever way you choose to use them. In a vase, a wreath on your door or wall, or to make furniture, there is something that must be done to the branches no matter what the project is. The pine branches will need to be preserved to ensure that they will stay in good shape for a long time and to make them look nice. How do you preserve pine branches though?

There are two methods used for preserving the branches. To preserve pine branches by using a glycerin/water mixture, you will have to cut and crush thes ends of the branches, then putting them into the mixture. To use the shellac/hairspray method of preserving pine branches, you use freshly cut branches and spray the entire branch with shellac or hairspray.

how to preserve pine branches

Of course, it is a bit more complicated than that, like most things tend to be. For instance, picking the perfect branches for your project, whether freshly cut or found on the ground. You have to figure out if you need freshly cut branches or if you have to dry them before using them. And both of the processes for preserving the branches are a bit more complicated than what has already been mentioned. Find more information on both processes of preserving pine branches, and picking your branches, below.


The Branches

The only way to preserve pine branches is to have pine branches. You will have to pick the branches that you want, keeping in mind what you are using them for. Some projects may need freshly cut branches while with other projects it may not matter. Make sure you get the pine branches that you need for your project so you don’t have to go back and find more.

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Picking Pine Branches

When picking the branches you want to use, don’t only pick ones that look cool. There are some things to think about when picking out the branches. Fresh cut pine branches are ideal because you know they were just cut and can get the perfect angle of cut on the bottom. Wreaths especially need fresh pine branches so they have the green needles on them still.

You will want to cut the branches at an angle, not just in a straight line down. You can also use branches that are already on the ground, it just depends on the project. If you choose to do this, you will still want to give them a fresh cut on the end.

Drying Pine Branches

Once you have the perfect branches picked, you won’t be able to preserve and use them for your project right away unless you need freshly cut branches. The branches may need to dry out. The moisture inside the branches already will make it harder and longer for the glycerin/water mixture to be absorbed. Which is where drying the branches comes in.

Making sure they are in a warm and dry space, they can take anywhere from 2 months to 6 months to completely dry out. The amount of time it will take depends on a lot of factors. The smaller, thinner sticks will dry out much quicker than those that are large and thick.

The room that they are placed in will also change the amount of time the branches take to dry. When placed in a room with a heater, they may take less time than if they are put in a room without one.

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Preserving Pine Branches

With the perfect branches picked and dried, it’s time to get to preserving the branches. Whether making a decorative wreath or making a beautiful piece of furniture, preserving the pine branches will help protect them for years to come. There are two ways to preserve pine branches. A glycerin/water solution, and using shellac or hairspray.

Preserve Pine Branches with Glycerin/Water Mixture

The glycerin/water solution takes some time to prepare for. This is because it works best when the branch is dry, which may take up to 6 months, as mentioned above. The branch then absorbs the mixture much quicker than if there is any other moisture in the branch.

This method of preserving pine branches is for branches without needles on them. The branches preserved this way often don’t have bark on them either, though you can leave the bark on if you wish.

  1. Pick the branches you plan to use for your project.
  2. Clean off the branches. Take off the needles and everything on the branch. You can also scrape off the bark, using a paint scraper or kitchen knife, if you wish to.
  3. Let the branches dry out. As mentioned above, this will take some time.
  4. Make the glycerin/water mixture using one part glycerin to two parts water. Put the mixture in a vase.
  5. Give the branches a fresh cut at a 45-degree angle. Then gently crush the ends with a hammer. This makes it even easier for the mixture to be absorbed by the branch.
  6. Put the branches in the vase, the crushed end in the liquid. Be sure to not put the vase in a spot where direct sunlight will hit it. The branches are ready for use once all the liquid is gone, or about one week after placing them in the vase.
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Preserve Pine Branches with Shellac or Hairspray

Using shellac or hairspray is a quick and easy way to preserve pine branches. However, this method is more for branches with the needles still on. That is why this method is often used for wreath making. It gives the pine branch and the pine needles a shine that many people like their wreaths to have.

The shellac/hairspray method is also most often used with freshly cut pine branches. This means that you will not have to deal with drying the pine branches at all for any period of time. For more in-depth steps on using the shellac/hairspray method of preserving pine branches, check out this blog.

  1. Find the pine branches you want to use and cut them from the tree. Be sure that you cut them at a 45-degree angle.
  2. If the branches will not be used right away, place the freshly cut ends into a vase filled with water. You will then have to place the vase in a cool place until you are ready to use the branches.
  3. Remove anything unwanted from the branch, spider webs, pinecones, etc. You want the branches to look amazing, not dirty with things hanging in the needles.
  4. Place the branch on a tray, then spray the entire thing with shellac or hairspray. Once one side of the branch is completely coated, flip the branch over to coat the other side as well. You will do this for all of the branches that you have.