Now we’re really bucking tradition! Not dice, not even a common accessory – these Cantrip Candles have taken Twitter and Facebook by storm the past few months. Allegedly they are appropriately themed to give ambiance to your gaming room that matches the scene of the game, leading to further immersion.
By Example: My D&D group was on a trek eastward from Waterdeep to Parnast in the Forgotten realms. As they passed by the enormous High Forest, I pulled out this candle and burned it for an hour to help set the mood of woods, mud, winding hills. How did the candle fair? Let’s find out!
Theme seems to be important for Cantrip, and rightly so. The product they’re selling is immersion – not the candle. You can pick up some candles at a dollar store and go about your day, but the immersion of having a candle that smells like a Bakery and Tavern – that’s what you’re paying for.
Likewise, their packaging is on-brand. A slightly rustic look with your candles’ safety in mind without heavy-handed and expensive shipping options some candle companies use.
I like the slightly provocative simplicity of the box – simple, easy stamp, it’s great.
We see another fantastic use of quality paper and thematic wax seal – always great. Our sample candles are wrapped in linen bags, and everything is cushioned with green packing paper. Very simple, very stylized, very on-brand. I enjoy seeing the repetition of map-like colors.
The two letters are also a lovely touch – small investment that makes a huge difference when opening the box. Unboxing experience, especially for higher end products (more on that later) is more important than people think.
The letters are simple but well printed and full of useful information – such as the Linen bags are temporary (I honestly think they’re very adequate for shipping purposes!), and more on the product line in general. The sheet with each candle’s scents is fantastic, and I hope that each candle’s tin has the unique graphic shown on this page!
Not many people know, but I actually made candles for years. Let me tell you – it’s not for everyone. But I wanted to, so I did it, and here we are. So when I got an e-mail from Christoff informing me on general candle receiving procedures, I was amused and happy to see that extra care come into play.
My personal “candle care” short list:
- Do not leave your candles outside or in a mail box for an extended amount of time, regardless of temperature.
- Open the box and inspect contents as soon as you can to ensure there are no leaks or spills.
- Put down a sheet of newspaper or butcher’s paper and sit each candle tin on it for about 10 minutes. Make sure there are no wet-marks, and carefully open the lid to ensure the wick is in the proper place and the wax has not melted and re-hardened improperly.
That’s pretty much all you need to know.
Right off the bat, the tin strikes me as very nice. Too many companies use very cheap aluminum tins that have rough or sometimes sharp edges – they are covered in scratches or dents, and look cheap – none of that is present here.
The lid of the tin has a lovely thematically appropriate “dungeon tile” on it – unique to each candle scent.
Likewise, the surrounding label is not busied up with tons of images or evocative photos – just simple information: the entire presentation makes for an artisan and quality feel to the entire product.
The tins, also, have risers on the bottom, keeping the base off of my hand-waxed and well-loved tabletop, which I completely approve of.
I also like to see plain and clear warnings all over these products, as candles and gaming tables can potentially lead to disaster – always remember to be safe. Likewise, these small riser bumps can help circulate air under the candle to prevent tabletop scalding in the event that 4 hour burn makes it hot enough to cause damage. If you are afraid of causing damage to a delicate surface: A.) don’t burn a candle there B.) you CAN use the lid in special circumstances – it fits very securely and will give an extra layer of protection for your tabletop.
So, it’s plastered everywhere – these candles are 100% Soy (other than the fragrances and wick, obviously). What does that mean for you?
Soy wax is a much softer looking, clean feeling wax compared to traditional paraffin wax. Paraffin is made, mostly, as a biproduct from various Oil and Petroleum refinement. Soy wax, on the other hand, is just “soy bean fat” basically – just soy bean oil with hydrogen mixed in to make this tallow-like soft soy wax.
Soy wax gives a very even and clean burn with very little soot or smoke compared to paraffin. Also… it’s bean juice. Very easy to grow and refine – very sustainable and better for the environment. There are very few reasons you should choose paraffin wax over soy if you can help it.
It takes much less flame to melt soy wax, which has a low melting temperature, meaning your wick has to do very little work to sling fragrance all across the room. This candle has been burning for about 10 minutes, and about 3 hours total since opening it. You can see how even and uniform the candle has burned – which is a huge plus.
Okay… I never lie to you, dear reader. When I opened the box – it smelled like a hot dock-side fish barrel covered in tannin and beer. It was pretty goddamn bad. But as soon as that waft of “suicide” style scents dissipated, each individual candle smelled amazing.
I have access to all but one scent currently available (and of course the one I don’t get is the “The Library Scriptorium” – as an English graduate and writer, missing OLD BOOK SMELL hurts, but it’s brand new). I feel that I can give a safe first impression of each scent, but will go into more detail about Walk In The Woods as i’ve had a chance to burn it for quite some time!
For starters, I have to imagine the larger version of these candles (complete with closed tin) will be a bit stronger than what I have in front of me, and that bodes well!
Many of these candles pack quite a punch and having a stronger version of them would be even more amazing – grab the sample pack if you can to try out several options at once. I will give a short to-the-point reaction to each scent without consulting the provided sheet: I believe one description I gave a friend was “Slightly angry grandmother stress baking” so there’s no telling how this will end up!
Dungeon Depths: Washed fruit, earthy concrete, old house. Think “where the hell are we?” mixed with “I think this is the way out.” 9/10 – Lovely and fragrant, calming to me. I think this scent is pretty spot on for what I imagine a mausoleum smelling like, if left untouched.
Goldwheat Bakery: Cold pie crust, yeast/beer, and… sawdust? Imagine a giant picnic table with random breads and desserts on it – but a very “cold” scent – like the food was here just before you walked in the room but it’s gone now. 7/10 – I work with bread dough EVERY DAY, so the scent is familiar and pretty spot on. It brings back some serious memories for me, personally, but I’d love to have stronger notes of yeast. Right now, it’s a little “distant” smelling and weak; if it’s good enough to help sell houses during an open-house, it’s good enough for this candle.
Black Hound Tavern: Spiced wine, leather boots, charcoal. This is almost exactly what I want my own house to smell like if I have company over. Imagine Nick Offerman’s study, fire lit, while polishing shoes and drinking Lagavulin: that’s the vibe I get from this. 10/10 – it’s probably the strongest of all the candles, in my opinion, and an amazing scent. I want to wear this.
Adventurer’s Bounty: Metal – like pennies and galvanized washers, leather, and cotton rope. There’s a kinda fruity smell in this one as well, which is out of place, but imagine you jammed your entire head into your mother’s purse: lotion, wallet, dollar bills, change. 8/10 – I think this candle does everything it should for a Market or Bazaar, personal preference is the only reason it’s not a 9+, it’s also pretty strong (which is good).
Cosgrave Tannery: Wool sweater, burned (blackened) matches, “so much leather.” Imagine you hugged your uncle after he smoked a cigar and drove through Boston on his motorcycle in late November. 9/10 – I am a leather FIEND. I bought a $140 hand crafted belt from Latvia for my best friend just because they raised their own cows and tanned their own leather. I’d love for the leather to have a more key-role in this scent, but it’s strong, smooth, and fits the bill completely.
Stonemoss Chapel: Dirt, moss, and wet rock. Imagine… dirt, moss, and wet rocks… The smell you get when you pull pine needles and mud out from on your windshield wipers, but you stuck it to the side of a stone fountain. 10/10 – this is the most “on the nose” scent out of them all. It’s exactly what it says it is, to a T. If you ever want to relax and feel like you’re outdoors – this will be your jam.
Sweet Fig Farmhouse: Ever smell something so sweet you wish you had died instead? Figs, sugar, figs, grass, sugar, figs, sugar, and hay. I completely admit it might be because I’ve just smelled all these gloriously pungent and outdoorsy/musky scents, as well as my own apartment’s more leather, steak, and metal smell, but I nearly dropped this little guy from the FALCON PUNCH of candied fig right in my brain. 8/10 – despite the surprise, this one burns really well. I’d love to smell more of the hay/grass undertones (whatever they may be from) to balance out the sweetness, but for those of you who love Air Wick, Glade, or any other very sickly sweet smelling fragrance bomb, this will be just fine!
A Walk in the Woods
This one I’ve had at the gaming table, at home, in my bathroom, and inside a box so I could judge it completely.
First and foremost: this candle is the most subtle out of all of them. With it lit funneled straight into my face, I could smell it a little over the natural scent of my apartment. I could smell my Ash and Tar hand-soap over the candle with it lit and in my hand.
That is not to say it’s worthless, just that it’s subtle. When you light this thing, leave it for 20 minutes, then walk back into the room with it: the slightly sweet pine smell blends in with the Sandalwood to make a scent very similar to a snapped oak branch. It’s very two-note heavy, unlike the others in the series, leading to a more “candle-like” experience.
For me, I want to have a version of this candle that’s 30%-40% stronger. I want to experience what it would smell like with the pine scent up-front and angry. Sandalwood in the back, holding a sharpened stake, begging for Pine to calm down, then something unexpected – like a hint of lavender, spearmint, or tea-tree underneath could really help bring out the bouquet of a forest. I very much like A Walk in the Woods, but would love to have a stronger version of it, even at an increased price (sandalwood oil is not cheap).
Being the insane bastard I am, I chose what any good Dungeon Master should do – I took things I loved and blended them together. I have to say I am astonished at how complex and incredible mixing these candles can be.
Stonemoss + Dungeon Depths = Lost Underdark Expedition, dripping cave mouths, strange fungi. Serious “minecraft” vibes that I absolutely cannot recommend highly enough.
Almost too much comes Black Hound Tavern + Cosgrave Tannery + Adventurer’s Bounty. It smells like a shipment of leather is being divided among a group of merchants over a cask of really spicy wine. Or maybe a Duke’s Banquet complete with mercenary guardsman looming at the edge of the table as you wait for the food to arrive.
These candles will run you about $14+Shipping. Knee jerk reaction, a lot of people will say “that’s so high!” – but I’m at over 2,000 words and feel like I could keep talking about this stuff for another 500. They really are high quality candles. They are themed and thought out, shipped well, and fill a wide range of situations. Hell, they’re just good candles without the game being involved at all. You can rest assured I’ll be buying a Black Hound Tavern candle as soon as I can manage.
You’ll end up getting about 20 hours (or 5 full gaming sessions) out of each candle. That’s around $3 per gaming session. Now you tell me, how much is a bag of chips where you’re from? No one ever said “oh man, do you remember those Pringles?” – but when your players walk into your room to sit down and venture into the High Forrest to stop the Hill Giants who have been attacking Secomber and it smells like a damp forest… they’ll remember. And in the end, what is the game if not a series of awesome memories?
My only gripe is that many of us play in what I like to call “hostile territory” – where gamer funk wafts in unexpectedly. The smell of greasy cards and body odor will certainly overpower some of these candles. But in a more secluded and contained environment, without the smell of strong food, it’s incredible what these guys can do. Now I just need a “Plus Ultra Mark II: Powerhouse Attack Protocol” version of these candles for my Local Hobby Shop, and I’d be in heaven!
I don’t always advocate rolling, but when I do… be sure you have to Drop the Die.
Review by JB Little, Follow me on twitter for more “useful” information.