Pumpkin carving is a favorite Halloween pastime. However, a carved pumpkin goes bad quickly. Unless a rotten and moldy jack o lantern is the Halloween look you’re going for, check out these tips on how to preserve a carved pumpkin.
Bleach is an effective way to preserve a pumpkin. You will need: A bucket large enough to submerge your jack o lantern, household bleach, a measuring spoon and protective gloves. Rinse your pumpkin thoroughly after carving. Fill your bucket and stir in two to three teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water. Put on protective gloves and dunk your pumpkin into the solution. You will need to hold it down, as the pumpkin will float. Soak for 20 minutes, then remove your pumpkin and let it air dry on paper towels.
2. Peppermint Spray
Are you looking for a natural, environmentally friendly solution? Some pumpkin carving enthusiasts swear by peppermint spray, since peppermint oil is a natural antifungal.
Dilute a tablespoon of peppermint dish soap or peppermint essential oil in a quart of water. Pour mixture into a clean spray bottle and lightly spray the inside of the carved pumpkin.
Here’s an easy option: hairspray. Spray your pumpkin inside and out to help keep it fresh. HOWEVER, remember that hairspray is flammable! Do not use a candle to light a pumpkin preserved with hairspray.
4. Olive Oil
Most natural oils - including avocado, sesame, olive, tea tree, almond and grapefruit seed extract - lock in moisture so your pumpkin doesn't dry out. Using disposable gloves, apply oil liberally to the outside and exposed cut-out areas. If you plan to light your jack o lantern with candles, do not apply oil to the inside of the pumpkin. Reapply over time as necessary. This is a great method even the kids can help with (as long as they’re wearing aprons), and your pumpkin will be safe for wildlife to eat after Halloween!
5. Petroleum Jelly
Much like vegetable oil, petroleum jelly provides an effective barrier to keep bacteria from attacking your carved pumpkin. Use the protectant to coat your pumpkin inside and out. Since petroleum jelly is messy to work with, use disposable gloves for easy application and clean-up.
6. Floor Wax
If you decide not to carve your pumpkin, you can use floor wax to help preserve it. Simply coat the pumpkin with wax for an attractive shine and longer life.
Words of Advice
All these methods work best on fresh pumpkins without bruises, scrapes or soft spots. Carved pumpkins should be scraped well inside and wiped as clean and dry as possible.
Don’t carve your pumpkin until you need to (waiting until a few days before Halloween is best) and avoid leaving jack o lanterns outside in direct sunlight or during heavy rain, very warm or freezing weather.
Remember that some of these methods should not be used in combination with a candle flame. Flameless candles are a safe and inexpensive option.
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