The Mythbusters Answer the Age-Old Christmas Tree Question

The latest Mythbusters holiday episode tackled, among other things, the question of how to keep a Christmas tree from dropping as many needles. In true Mythbusters style, Kari Byron, Grant Imahara and Tory Belleci created special apparatus to catch and measure the needle droppage from a number of trees using various preparations from myths to see what worked the best.

They tried a number of strange things added to the reservoir for the trees including bleach, crushed Viagra (Santa’s little helper), an aspirin, fertilizer and just plain water. They also tried treating the tree foliage by spraying it with hair spray and another with a heavy coat of polyurethane. Here were the results:

  • The fertilizer was the worst, causing the most needle dropping.
  • The bleach and Santa’s little helper lost the least amount of needles but turned the tree a funky color.
  • The hair spray kept the most needles on and the tree stayed a nice color, but they caution not to try it because it’s a fire hazard to add hair spray to a dry Christmas tree.

If you want to see their experiment with the trees, tune in for their holiday special this week. There’s also going to be a marathon of viewers’ choice of episodes on Christmas Day. Be sure to go to the site to vote for your favorites.

, ,

Share This Post:
    • cody rida

      was the bleach in the water by itself or was it with viagra santas little helper

    • Lynn

      They did a separate tree for each additive. So the bleach was added to the water for one tree, the Viagra was added to the water for another tree, etc. Sorry, I dind’t make that as clear as I should have. :-)

    • Jeremy

      So if you wouldn’t recommend the hair spray because of the danger, then what would you recommend that I use to keep my tree from pine leaves falling off, and keeping it a good color?

    • Lhyzz

      Jeremy: buy a plastic tree

    • Tyler Brown

      So… the results went by too fast… what were the results? can you publish them please?

    • john Seaver

      If hair spray is dangerous what about the dry tree. Would’nt the hair spray and the dry tree be equal since a spark would inflame both equally. So if hairspray keeps the needles from drying out I think this would be a good idea. If your going to have a real “dead” tree in your house it doesnt seem like “fire” hazard is a concern.

    • joe smoe

      John do you read what you write? You said hairspray is just as dangerous as a dry tree so why am i going to spray my fresh tree with something that is going to make it as flamable as a dry tree. Doesn’t seem very smart

    • DD

      What about conventional Christmas tree preservatives ? I have no idea if any work, but I don’t see that anything like that was used. Maybe I’m looking for more of a Consumer’s Reports magazine type of test. I don’t know.

    • annabel

      wat is santa’s little helper??

      • KB

        it says it in the article. Viagra