Sunday, December 13, 2009

How NOT to water a Christmas Tree

Or.. . "How to Make a Battery Out of a Christmas Tree"

So, we brought our Christmas tree home last Sunday and immediately my darling husband set about putting it in the stand and concocting his "special" formula for feeding the tree.

A few days later, we were all trying to sniff out the fresh pine smell, but instead were overwhelmed by another odor. To me, it smelled sweet and pungent, like an over-ripe banana. We went sniffing around the living room and finally realized it was the tree. Being the "let's treat the symptoms" type, I set to burning every balsam scented candle in the house, and sent my husband to buy a pine-scented car freshener to hang on the tree among the ornaments. Worse yet, the lower branches of the tree were as brittle as if they were a month old. My husband, being the "let's find the cause" type, set about trying to solve the mystery. It didn't take him long.

The formula for keeping the tree fresh involves a concoction that includes Epsom salts and a bar of iron. When we set the tree up, we couldn't find the bar of iron from last year (surprise) so we were going to do without. In the meantime, we needed something to keep the tree raised up in the stand so that water could get into the freshly cut trunk. Dan found a couple pieces of galvanized steel washers, so he used those. As we were decorating, lo and behold, I found the iron bars, so we threw those in, too.

So, between the two different kinds of metal and the low-level acid in the Epsom salts, Dan thinks we created a battery. (Does that mean we could have put the end of the lights in the water, added a whole new meaning to a pre-lit Christmas tree?) He didn't think so. But the corrosion of the tin let off a very strange odor. I was too chicken to stick around and watch Hubs and our strapping 16-year-old lift the 8-foot decorated tree out of the stand, to empty the water and the gross stuff, and refill the stand.

Now, two days later, we have a sweet smelling tree. Just as a Christmas tree should smell.

13 comments:

Brittanie said...

lol I have never heard of that combination before to keep the tree fresh. My sister and I live together and we have no tree or decorations. We are both in our mid 20s never married no children. :)

Becky said...

Never. Never have I heard that story of Christmas. I am so glad you solved that problem.

Willow said...

Oh. my. goodness. That is so funny! I'm sorry it smelled so yucky, but now you will have a story to tell every year at Christmas time!

Jen said...

That is just hilarious...I have never heard such a thing. I bet you were freakin out...I would be.

Inglesidemom said...

I am not sure how I missed this post! Hysterical! I am glad it all got worked out.

Susanne said...

Oh how funny is that. I've never heard of that combo for keeping a tree fresh. I was always told a little bleach in the water.

Robin said...

I haven't heard of that before either - we sometimes have added a bit of sugar to the water. But I wouldn't even know where to buy iron bars!
I'm glad you got your problem solved. I was afraid you were going to say you had to go get another tree - that would have been very sad.
Thanks for sharing your funny mishap!

Judy said...

Hmm. It would have made me crave banana bread!

So glad the mystery was solved.

Sherri said...

LOL!!!! Karen I have never heard such a funny story about a Christmas Tree!!! Thanks for sharing and making me giggle!!

RIZZI said...

HI KAREN, WOW!!! I FEEL SO BAD FOR YOU. SO GLAD EVERYTHING IS BACK TO NORMAL. GOOD THING MARK WASN'T VISITING.[HA HA]
I AM STILL WAITING FOR IT TO SNOW, JUST A LITTLE FOR CHRISTMAS WOULD BE GREAT, THE GIRLS GOT ALL NEW BOOTS. SO THEY ARE REALLY HOPING FOR SNOW. WE ALWAYS PUT JUST PLAIN WATER, AND MAYBE A FEW ASPIRINS IN OUR TREE STAND. SO FAR, IT WORKS. WELL, AT LEASE THE TREE WON'T GET A HEADACHE. HAVE A NICE DAY.
LOVE, AUNT RIZ

Linda said...

Too funny! Just when you think you've heard all the funny Christmas tree stories...there's a new one!

Trailboss said...

Well who would have thought? The many years that I had a live tree all I used was water. I never knew to use anything else, but yet, I never had a problem w/the water. I really don't get it!

diana said...

how funny - and interesting (about the metals)

and how i miss the smell of a real Christmas tree in the home. always had a real tree until we moved into our current home which was 6 years ago. i use pinecones and candles to try and recreate the smell, but they always come up short to the real thing.