Our Forest Light Candle has been a long time coming. Years ago, when our founder Hall made his first attempt, the results were thrilling, but when the scent of Big Sur sage wowed a party full of people only to quickly give way to a mucked-up wick and a kind of volcanic eruption of wax, he knew we needed a little more research. A decade and a couple hundred attempts later, we’re happy to report, we nailed it.
The fundamental challenge is this: no one does this anymore. It’s just a lot easier to order your synthetics from China, little drop here, little drop there, some burning agents to help carry the scent through the room, and there you go— no risk, no experimentation, no double-boilers bubbling infused beeswax all over your workshop or late nights spent wick testing. But it just so happens, we live for that shit.
So for us, it wasn’t the days spent hand-scraping pitch from trees and gathering conifer needles and leaves that was the challenge. It wasn’t making enfleurage distillations out of mountain soil and lichen to tease out the earthy notes, or waking up in the Cascades to find boots soaked by early rains in September. For us, it was figuring out how to make a candle that somehow held all of that, while still being crafted with enough delicacy to burn cleanly and beautifully.
Because once you get all that living juice and sap and oil into beeswax— all that Fir needle and Cedar leaf and Pine pollen and Wolf lichen— it’s hard to get it to burn. So first we spent ages experimenting with different types of pitch, resin and sap.
Once we figured that out, we had a new problem: wild-crafted ingredients are nuanced. They’re softer, less aggressive than their chemical counterparts, and so, they don’t throw scent very well. The secret, it turns out, is density and quality. Density of infusion and quality of essential oils. That is the only way to fill a room with real, wild-crafted goodness. But even after we figured that out, it took us a long time to settle on how to properly filter the wax for a good burn rate while still leaving enough extraction to give the candle real wilderness complexity.
And all the while, we were working with a local artist on a whole other challenge: getting the candle vessel just right. We wanted to make sure that we chose someone whose vision and work reflect the same spirit as the candle project, someone who understands obsessive iteration, reckless, messy experimentation and the importance of making things well. We also wanted to make sure that whatever we used could be reused, and go on to have a life of its own. We’re thrilled with the result— stay tuned for an upcoming blog on that story.
Every part of this process has been an adventure, from scouring the backcountry trails of the Sierra Nevada mountains to researching ancient candle-making techniques. And finally we get to say, here it is, a real, quiet wilderness experience in a candle, harvested from the unfarmed and untamed corners of California’s Range of Light mountains, filled with moss and cedar bark and rainy, early fall evenings when you can smell the changing of the seasons in the air. Burn it dark and quiet on winter evenings. Dig deep into what winter is. The mountains are calling.