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.