The Herb Society of America Blog
By Katherine K. Schlosser
The season of lights is upon us. During this darkest time of the year, we gravitate to earthly sources of light to keep things merry and bright.
Early in our history as a country, many were short on money and luxuries such as candles. Livestock numbers were as yet too low to produce the quantity of tallow needed to make candles affordable, so following the lead of Native Americans, householders turned to candlewood to provide light on winter evenings.
We know candlewood as fatwood or pine knots—the resin-impregnated heartwood of pine trees. Pines that were cut to clear land, build homes, and provide heat for warmth and cooking left stumps in the ground. Those stumps, full of resin, hardened and became rot-resistant…and were an easy source of candlewood. Slim slivers cut from the wood burned hot and bright.
Alice Morse Earle, writing in the 1800s about…
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