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Extend Life of Christmas Tree with Fire Marshall's 'Tea' Recipe

Mixing a concoction of things that can be found at the corner store will extend the life and luster of fresh firs.

If you're buying a live Christmas tree just this year, there are a few things to watch out for, including fire hazards.

Lt. Jeffrey Moore of Avon Lake Fire Department's Fire Prevention Bureau previously provided Patch with a few tips. including these:

  • Never put candles on a Christmas tree whether it's real or artificial.
  • Check for frayed wired on holiday lighting: If you're using an extension cord, don't put too many plugs in one outlet.
  • Keep all Christmas trees, live or artificial, away from a working fireplace.
  • Lt. Moore recommends watching this video from the U.S. Fire Administration, on how a live Christmas tree can become fully engulfed in just seconds.
  • Never put candles on a Christmas tree whether it's real or artificial.

If you do favor live Christmas tree, we have this recipe to extend the life of a live tree from the Stow Fire Department.

Most Christmas trees are expected to live only a couple of weeks after being cut down. But Stow Fire Department Marshall Jim Leidel has a recipe, he says, that extends the life and luster of the fresh firs.

"No fire-proofing technique works 100 percent of the time," said Leidel. But he believes the following recipe can make a living tree stay green longer.

Ingredients:

  • Two cups of corn syrup
  • Two ounces of chlorine bleach
  • Two teaspoons of Epsom salt
  • One-half teaspoon of Borax
  • One teaspoon of chelated iron (Can be found at nurseries, garden centers, and in pill form at pharmacies.)
  • Hot water

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients listed above. Fill a two-gallon bucket with hot water to within one inch of the top and add the ingredients. Stir thoroughly, dissolving ingredients.
  2. Make a fresh cut at the base on the tree trunk. Cut an inch off the base of the tree.
  3. Immediately stand the trunk of the tree in the solution and leave for 24 hours.
  4. Keep the remaining solution. Place your tree in a stand that contains a well for pouring and holding liquids.
  5. When the tree is in its final location, use a plastic cup to pour solution from the bucket into the tree well. Fill the well.
  6. Fill the tree stand well with the solution every day.

So, how does this Christmas tree tea work?

"The syrup provides the food necessary to allow the base of the tree to take up water," said Leidel. "As much as 1 ½ gallons of water can be taken up by the tree over a two-week period."

The Boron in the Borax allows the tree to move water and sugar out to every branch and needle on the tree, according to the fire marshall.

Magnesium compounds in the Epsom salt and iron from the chelated-iron provide "essential components for the production of chlorophyll, which keep the tree green."

Bleach prevents mold from forming in the solution, he said, adding the solution should also help reduce needle dropping and will increase the tree's pine fragrance.

Editor's note: This story originally published in December 2010. 

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