I love collecting spell ingredients, especially hard-to-find stuff or items that require a journey of some sort. Labouring to get something for a spell brings something extra to the work - your mission reflects your seriousness and determination, which in a very real sense also becomes fuel for the spell. It disappoints me when people get lazy and want to substitute things that are not even that hard to get. It reflects a convenience store mentality which I think antipathetic to folk magic - and to magic in general. Magical work after all is, well, work.
Having said that, one can also get into a materialistic mind set where you become so dependent on certain ingredients that you are unable to do spell work when you don't have access to them. Along with this comes the restless pursuit of buying every herb, root and oil that you can find in the catalogue of your favourite botanica or conjure shop. You become a collector more than a practitioner, and spiritual merchants will try to foster this mentality in you given half the chance. It's good for business!
One of my espiritismo elders recently inspired me not to get too wrapped up in complexity. All you really need, you see, are water and candles. You would be amazed what you can pull off when you have a good relationship with your spirits, a glass of water and some candles.
Water plays an important role in espiritismo as in many of the New World traditions influenced by Alan Kardec. Seen as the life-stuff of the universe, the cosmic plasma, and the universal spiritual conductor. Taking this into consideration it soon becomes clear how vital and useful it is for spirit work and magic. We place water on our altars to refresh the spirits but also to give them a medium to egress through in to our world. It expresses a primordial clarity, wellbeing and coolness. It perfectly holds a prayer or intention making it an exceedingly useful manifesting tool. It draws in negativity and ill intent, purifying the environment.
Candles in turn, in the simplest sense, are symbolic of the animating spark of spirit. The symbolism of light and heat of fire in contrast to the coolness of water needs no further elaboration. As devotional devices candles naturally evoke catholic tradition's offertory methods but the process of flame consuming fuel undoubtedly releases something numinous - heat and energy - both spiritual and mundane.
Taking a little water in the palm of your hand and breathing a prayer or petition into that, and then very lightly dressing a candle is enough to set the work in motion. Similarly, a candle offered to a saint or spirit along with a glass of water allows that spirit to work through the water - that water might then be used to dress oneself, a talisman or medal, or an area. You might drink a few sips to imbibe the effect.
You can write your petition or prayer on paper, fold it and place it beneath the glass of water which then subtlety 'transmits' that message in the spiritual. Conversely, negativity can be called out of something and into a glass of water and this then can be disposed of suitably. Similarly candle wax holds a 'charge' - positive or negative. A candle can be taken and swept over the body calling any negative influences into it and then lit - burning up that mess. Looked at in this way you might discover that these most basic of tools hold many more mysteries.
So, consider the humble glass of water and the modest candle - they might be all you need.