Just my Thoughts

Preserving the Cut Christmas Tree

I had a web site at Geocities for years. When they stopped offering free web sites, I saved most of my content as a lot of it had taken me years to accumulate or come up with personally. I do not recall where I first read the information below but I know that I did some checking on it. With a forestry degree, I have a lot of books that I could turn to to see if a lot of this rings true. As the local morning news crew went out to a local tree farm and cut down a fresh tree, I decided to post this particular article today in their honor. 


This year, take the oath: there won’t be an accidental fire in your house or apartment. All you need do to stop this possibility is to PRESERVES the live evergreen displayed indoors at Christmas!
First, let us go through the materials you’ll need to fireproof your tree. You’ll need the following materials: Karo syrup from the supermarket, epsom salt from the drug store, a small can of “Boraxo” from the supermarket, liquid chlorine bleach from your laundry closet, and a small packet of chelated iron (it’s pronounced KEY-lated) from the garden shop or plant store. You’ll also need a two-gallon bucket or pail.
Secondly, here are some hints for choosing the freshest tree.
Keep in mind that most trees are cut six to ten weeks before you see them in your neighborhood, unless you are at a local tree farm or cut your tree yourself.
When you go shopping for your Christmas tree, find one that meets your standards for height, shape and fullness. When you’ve narrowed your choice to a few trees, check to see that each is healthy. Find a bad side of the tree, then try and snap a very small branch with your fingers. Preferably, this should be at the bottom of the tree because this is the first place where water would be in short supply. Try to snap the branch with your fingers; if it snaps easily, know right away that the tissue is dead, and the story is the same for the rest of the tree. DON’T BUY THAT TREE!
However, if the branch doesn’t snap easily, that’s a good indication that the tissue is very much alive. But don’t stop there. Snap the small branch just the same, then look at the woody tissue under the bark. If the color is white or a pale green, then the tissue is alive, and the tree is healthy. If the wood looks to be brown or close to it, that means the tissue is in the process of dying, in which case you do not buy that tree! No matter what, ALWAYS BUY A TREE THAT HAS LIVE TISSUE, either white or pale green. This means that the homemade preservative that you’re about to make will make it less likely to catch on fire!
Now that you’ve purchased your tree, let’s show you how to preserve it!


  1. Once you get home, get a saw and IMMEDIATELY make a fresh cut at the base of the tree trunk. This is MANDATORY for any tree you’ve bought. Go down about an inch ABOVE the bottom of the trunk and make a fresh cut there with your saw. Try to make a level cut when you do.
  2. Next, let’s consider a place for storing your tree because, ideally, YOU SHOULD BE BUYING YOUR TREE AT LEAST 10 DAYS BEFORE CHRISTMAS. If it’s longer that that, fine, but don’t buy it at the last minute and expect to have it fireproofed before it goes into the house. Storage should not be a problem as long as the tree is protected from the wind. An ideal place would be the garage, a carport, possibly a balcony for apartment dwellers. The last resort would be a basement, hopefully a cool one.
  3. Immediately after making your cut at the bottom of the tree trunk, mix your homemade preservative.
  4. Into the two-gallon bucket, add HOT WATER from the kitchen faucet. Fill the bucket with hot water to within an inch or so of the top of the bucket. Then, into the hot water, add the following ingredients: …two cups of Karo syrup …two ounces of liquid chlorine bleach …two pinches of epsom salt …one-half teaspoon of Boraxo …one teaspoon of chelated iron Stir these ingredients thoroughly in the bucket, then IMMEDIATELY stand the trunk of the tree in this solution. Leave the tree in the bucket until the day comes when you want to take the tree indoors for decoration.
  5. When the tree goes indoors, stand the trunk in the tree stand and decorate it as you always do, then move the tree into its final resting place in the house. THEN, GET THE BUCKET FILLED WITH YOUR INGREDIENTS, HAVE A PLASTIC CUP HANDY, DRAW OFF THE MIXTURE FROM THE BUCKET AND FILL THE WELL OF THE TREE STAND RIGHT UP TO THE TOP.
  6. Here, assign some responsibility for what happens after that. Someone in the family must see to it that, EVERY DAY WITHOUT EXCEPTION, THE WELL OF THE TREE STAND MUST BE KEPT FILLED WITH THE SOLUTION IN YOUR TWO-GALLON BUCKET.
  7. A hint: in the morning when you get up, FILL THE WELL OF THE TREE STAND WITH FLUID RIGHT UP TO THE TOP. When you retire for the evening AGAIN FILL THE WELL OF THE TREE STAND. The well must be kept filled so the solution is always readily available to your Christmas tree, and then IT IS PRESERVED.

How can the tree be preserved this way?
Actually, it’s very easy and let’s explain why…
The Karo syrup provides the SUGAR, and it is only in the presence of sugar that tremendous amounts of water will be taken up by the exposed tissue at the base of the tree trunk. Without the sugar, only the smallest bit of water will be absorbed. However, in the presence of the sugar, you can expect more than one and one-half gallons of the water to be absorbed by the tree during the 10 to 14-day period that the tree is exposed to your homemade preservative.
But there is more. Thanks to the boron you have supplied (in the Boraxo), the water and sugar will be moved to every needle and branch of your tree. Remember that boron is what makes sugar move, not only in trees, but vegetables, fruits and even house plants.
Then, there’s the epsom salt and the chelated iron. Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, and magnesium (together with iron) are the center molecules in the process we know as chlorophyll production. By making the magnesium and iron available to the tree, you’re assuring yourself of green needles, even if the tree was not sprayed at the tree farm before it was shipped to market.
Oh yes, why the liquid chlorine bleach? Chlorine stops a mold from forming when water and sugar stand for any period of time. Here, the chlorine stops the mold from forming in the bucket and the material added to the well of your tree stand.
Finally, what are the benefits from preserving your tree this way?


  1. Your tree will be SOAKING WET with water, in fact, at least 800 per cent more water that when the tree was growing in the forest.
  2. The tree will NOT become a fire hazard in your house because it is soaking wet, almost like a sponge.
  3. No needles will drop, no matter what variety of evergreen you are displaying in your house. At the same time, the tree will give off a fragrance like that which you’ve sensed when walking through a forest of evergreens.
  4. Finally, make the test. When the holidays are over and the tree is taken down in the house, move the tree outdoors and cut one of the branches. Then, move away from the tree, light a match, and see if the branch will burn. IT WON’T…guaranteed!
  5.  Also, if you have an outdoor garden of any size, be ecology conscious. Cut the branches from the tree, then scatter the branches over the mulch previously applied to your roses, tulip and bulb garden, atop the mulch over your flower bed. A thick layer of these evergreen boughs is added protection for your plants over the winter.

Then, cut up the tree trunk into small sections and add it to the trash can. If your municipality recycles Christmas trees, please participate in this particular practice. Many do and use the chopped up trees for mulch and/or trails.

So, preserve your live evergreen this Christmas and enjoy a safe holiday! 


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