5 tips on how to harden a conker
Having the hardest conker in most cases equals victory - as the hardest conkers in most cases wins. Here’s 5 different techniques for hardening your conker:
1) Soak in vinegar then bake
Soaking your conker in vinegar will essentially pickle it, naturally removing some of the moisture from the inside, whilst at the same time hardening the outside (without 100% drying it out). This balance of moisture and hardness is important, as you don’t want a 100% hard conker otherwise it’ll be too brittle and easily disintegrate when it. Putting your vinegared conker in the oven afterwards is a final important step - to make sure more of the moisture is removed (but not too much!)
2) Put them in the oven over night at a slow temperature
If you don’t have any vinegar, the simpler option is to put your conker in the oven at a slow temperature over night. This will speed up the natural drying out process. Be careful at what temperature you put the oven on, as you may try them out too much too quickly, and they’ll end up too brittle.
3) Cover your conker in nail varnish
For those of you who’ve access to a supply of nail varnish, painting a layer of clear varnish over your conker will create a protective layer - meaning that it is harder for your conker to crack. Make sure you pick clear varnish though and not a coloured varnish, as you don’t want to end up with a pink conker!
4) Fill your conker with glue
A conker is made of two parts - its shell and its core. One tactic is to hollow out the core of your conker and replace it with glue (or at least part of it with glue) as this will make the core super-strengthened!
5) Leave your conker in a drawer for a year or two
Ageing a conker is the most natural and arguably the best way to harden a conker, as with age the conker will naturally lose some of its moisture and become harder. One important factor when ageing a conker is to make sure you get the humidity correct - too much moisture will result in your conker core going mouldy; too little, and your conker will over cook and go too brittle. A similar humid and temperature of a wine cellar is the perfect conditions for ageing conkers.
N.B. you can buy a selection of aged conkers from our store here >>
As a final tip, you need to consider ‘holing’ your conker before you harden it - depending on your hardening technique. For all the un-natural hardening techniques, then we’d suggest making the hole before you harden it; for natural ageing, we’d recommend holing your conker at the end of the process, as otherwise you’ll increase the chances of mould.