ASH Refillery and Co x ecologyst: Custom Refillable Candles
Low-waste, circular lifestyles made easy with all-natural ingredients.
When it comes to living a clean, low-waste lifestyle, ASH Refillery has been a leader in the home and personal care products space. Founded in 2020 by three friends turned business partners, ASH has a commitment to making refillable, effective and clean ingredients for an array of personal and household needs. Keeping things circular has been at the forefront of their work and they look to source the best all-natural, low impact ingredients respecting both people and the planet.
We’ve partnered with Adriana Tulissi, Heather-Lynn Erais, and Seth Erais at ASH Refillery to feature two custom scents based on our shop neighborhoods in both Victoria and Whistler that we agreed best suited the essence and vibe of each of these places. Here are the scents we dreamt up!
Victoria—fresh, crisp, floral
We wanted to capture the scent of the fresh, coastal climate of the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territories of the Lekwungen (Lək̓ʷəŋən) People. Known for its Garry oak ecosystem and temperate climate, the Victoria scent has notes of Douglas fir from Great Bear Essential Oils, Lavender, Eucalyptus and Ho Wood.
Whistler, BC—cool, woodsy, earthy
Inspired by the cool air of the mountains and lush forests in the ancestral, traditional, and unceded territories of the Lil’wat and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh nations, the Whistler scent has notes of Douglas Fir, Shore Pine, and Cedar Leaf from Great Bear Essential Oils.
We sat down with Adriana and Heather-Lynn to chat about how ASH came to be, how to refill your candle, the best practices to ensure it gets the most burn time possible, and why they think sourcing locally is of utmost importance.
1) Can you explain the story behind ASH?
ASH started out in a hot tub in Las Vegas during Adriana’s 40th birthday celebration—yes, she’s over 40! We’d been friends for years, making our own candles or trying out other DIY recipes, going for afternoons at our favorite craft breweries in Calgary but always stopping in first to low-waste stores. As we were sitting together in that hot tub talking about what comes next for each of us…ASH Refillery came to be. Within five months, we packed up and moved to Victoria!
The foundation of ASH is a family business and the idea of creating an opportunity for a sustainable lifestyle to be attainable and approachable for everyone. We hoped, and still do, to break down the barriers that have commonly been associated with a sustainable lifestyle and help empower folks to take little steps in reducing their waste—every bit counts! We believe in accessibility and affordability and have lots of affordable options to take those little steps.
2) What inspired you to start doing refills for candles?
It started when Adriana took a candle making class because…who doesn’t love candles?! As soon as we realized how fun they were to make, there was no turning back. We were always refilling our own candles and our friends’. When we first opened we weren’t intending on refilling candles, just making and selling them. And then we thought “we are a refillery,” why don’t we refill candles?! They have been a huge hit.
3) What is your candle making process?
Once we find the right vessel, we glue the wick to the bottom. We heat the soy wax to the correct temperature and add in stearic acid. Stearic acid (made from coconut) is added to harden the wax, increase the burn time and help “fix” the scent (make it last longer). We add in the essential oils and pour in the hot wax. Once the wax hardens, we add any toppers (dried flower petals or herbs), trim the wick, and your candle is ready to go!
4) Can you tell us more about the Great Bear Rainforest Essential Oil Company? Why did you decide to feature their oils?
When we first started working with ecologyst, we quickly saw that we shared many of the same values—sourcing local ingredients when we can, supporting Indigenous, BIPOC, LGBTQA+, and women-owned companies, and a shared love for amazing smelling candles!
We spent time researching local essential oil suppliers in Canada that sourced and distilled their own essential oils. We found Great Bear Essential Oils and it was a natural fit! Great Bear Essential Oil Company is a social enterprise supported by the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative. The collective ethically forages the ingredients from the Great Bear Rainforest, distills them, and operates in Bella Coola, BC. The Initiative is 100% Indigenous-owned, and supports sustainable language and culture, which is key to decolonizing the work that we do, the business we run, and the relationships we build.
5) What’s the importance of working with locally sourced materials?
Sourcing local materials is critical for a few reasons. It invests in our local economy, creates jobs, reduces our carbon footprint and the community building that encompasses supporting each other.
6) Why does using natural ingredients in candles matter?
There are so many amazing smelling candles out there, but not all are made equal! Soy wax biodegrades and is a fully renewable resource! The burn is cleaner (minimal soot) and slower burning than traditional paraffin candles (paraffin wax is derived from petroleum products).
We also use essential oils to scent our candles. Essential oils are naturally occurring substances found in different parts of plants (stems, leaves, flowers, etc.). Fragrance oils are manufactured (and often contain artificial ingredients and alcohol) and do not contain the positive health benefits of essential oils. Traditional candles often use fragrance oils or fragrance/essential oil blends, which release higher levels of soot in the air.
7) What are the benefits of using a wood wick?
A wood wick burns the cleanest and is the most natural option when it comes to flammable material. The wooden wicks used in these candles are made from fruit trees sourced in the USA from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-Certified mills. It also makes the coziest crackling sound when it is lit.
How to Light and Maintain Your Wood Wick
We find the best technique for a wood wick is to tilt the candle at an angle and slowly let the flame draw across the length of the wood. We also recommend burning your candle for one hour per one inch in diameter before blowing out. For these candles, that will take about two to three hours.
Quick Tips for Cleaning Your Candle Vessel
Place vessel in freezer overnight, then pop out the old wax and wick with a butter knife. Didn't work? A double boiler works great. Here's how:
1) Place vessel in a wide pot
2) Fill pot with 1-2 inches of water
3) Let water come to gentle boil
4) Let wax melt, then dispose in a jar/container (don’t pour down the drain)
5) Wipe down vessel with vinegar and water spray
Tip: do not pour boiling water directly in the vessel as the glass may break!
How to Refill Your Candle at ASH
Step 1: Bring in your own clean vessel (cleaning tips above!). It can be from ASH or one you’ve already got! Fun vessels we’ve received so far: a shell from the beach, a tea cup, re-purposed glass food jars
Step 2: Choose your wick (cotton or wood) and your scent (pick from ASH’s blends or make your own from our list of essential oils)
Step 3: Drop off in store and pick up the following week—price is determined by weight. And voilà—enjoy!
Drop off is any shop day with a deadline of Friday for the following Tuesday pick-up. Though each scent will only be sold at its respective location, you may refill both the Whistler and Victoria scents at ASH Refillery and Co.
Circularity is at the forefront of both our work and ASH’s—ensuring products last, and when they reach the end of their life cycle, can be repaired, refilled, or repurposed in some way. Partnering with local businesses who share these collective goals working toward a future where people and the planet are good for each other is a key to inching toward this goal.
To learn more about ASH Refillery and Co., visit their website and follow them on Instagram.
To prevent fire: burn candle within sight. Keep out of reach of children and pets. Never burn a candle on or near anything that can catch fire.
Keep wick trimmed to ¼ inch at all times. Burn for the number of hours it takes for the entire surface of wax to become liquid and keep wick centered. To avoid damage to the vessel, do not burn the last ¼ inch of wax in the jar. Container will be hot when the candle is lit. Do not leave unattended when lit.