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Sustainable Soap Making: How to Make Soap From Tallow
The practice of soap making has been around for centuries, and before the widespread convenience of commercial soaps in stores, people would often make their soap at home using animal fats.
Animal fat-based soaps can sometimes be harder on the skin than plant-based or industrially produced soaps, but they provide many unique benefits. For example, using grass-fed pure tallow soap means you are cleaning your body with an organic, non-toxic, and anti-bacterial soap, which has a lot of long-lasting cosmetic and health benefits.
This can’t be said about common soap brands found in convenience stores. In fact, most of those common soap brands contain chemicals, synthetic fragrances, and carcinogenic properties, which increase toxicity in organs when absorbed into the skin.
Homesteaders and preppers embracing healthy and natural living are likely aware that natural and sustainable products come with many benefits. One type of soap recipe you can make easily at home is beef tallow soap. After all, tallow is an affordable and organic food ingredient with lots of known health benefits.
In this article, we’ll discuss what tallow soap is, the advantages and disadvantages of using it, provide our favorite tallow soap recipes, and show you how you can make tallow soap yourself. Continue reading below for more.
What is Beef Tallow Soap?
Tallow soap is a kind of soap made from animal fat – typically from beef or mutton. It’s a sturdy and long-lasting soap that releases a creamy lather. It’s also suitable for most skin types.
We suggest using grass-fed tallow because it will be richer in nutrients like Vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are absorbed into your body, and provide you with more rejuvenated skin. And yes, vitamins can be absorbed through the skin.
Still, you should know that not all beef tallow is the same. The diet of the cow and any type of cow the fat is rendered from will affect the quality of the tallow. Generally speaking, if you use higher quality tallow, it will be less irritating to sensitive skin and rejuvenating properties of the soap. This is why we recommend using grass-fed tallow from pasteurized cows as your main ingredient for soap making.
Related Article: How to Store Beef Tallow Long Term
How to Make Tallow Soap at Home
Our basic tallow soap recipe can be made at home following a simple DIY approach. We will begin by listing out the ingredients and materials; then, we will jump into the soap-making process.
Here are the ingredients you need to obtain to make tallow soap:
- 10.5 oz beef tallow
- 9.0 oz organic coconut oil
- 10.5 oz extra virgin olive oil
- 4.28 oz lye (aka caustic soda or sodium hydroxide)
- 32 oz distilled water
- Essential oils (optional)
Note: If you want to make pure tallow soap, simply remove coconut oil and olive oil from the recipe, and increase the amount of beef tallow in your recipe from 10.5 oz to 30 oz.
Here are the materials you need to make soap:
- Soap mold
- A large stainless steel pot
- A wooden spoon
- A hand blender (or immersion blender)
- A kitchen scale
- A thermometer
- Plastic Wrap
- Safety glasses
Note: The rendered tallow should be cooled to room temperature before use. The olive oil and coconut oil should also be at room temperature.
Moreover, lye is a caustic substance, so you need to make sure you handle it with care and follow proper safety procedures when handling it. Finally, note that you’ll be using distilled water to remove impurities in the soap.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Make Soap from Tallow
To make your own soap, you can follow the DIY guide below.
1) Prepare Your Equipment
Before you start making your soap, ensure you have all the necessary equipment, ingredients, and safety gear. Then, get changed into a long sleeved-outfit and pants to protect your skin from splatters.
2) Prepare the Lye Solution
Go to a well-ventilated area and carefully measure about 12 ounces of lye and slowly pour it into 32 ounces of distilled water. Be sure not to pour the water into the lye since this can cause an adverse chemical reaction.
As you pour the lye, you’ll notice that the solution will heat up quickly and release fumes. So, you’ll want to double-check that you’re in a well-ventilated area and that you’re wearing safety gear.
Stir the mixture using your wooden spoon until the lye is completely dissolved. The solution will quickly become hot, so you’ll want to wait until it cools down to around 100°F (37°C). Then, label the container as “lye” and store it in a safe place out of reach from children and pets.
3) Prepare the Tallow and Oils
In a big stainless steel pot, melt about 3 pounds of beef tallow on low heat. The melting point of pure tallow is 112-120°F (45-50°C). Remember, the tallow should be rendered and cooled to room temperature before use.
Once you’ve fully melted the tallow, add a pound of coconut oil and a pound of olive oil to the pot. These oils should also be at room temperature. Then, stir the mixture until all the oils have melted and blended together.
4) Combine the Lye Solution and Oils
Once you’ve cooled both the lye solution and the oils to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, carefully pour the lye solution into the pot that holds the oils.
Use a hand blender to blend the mixture until it reaches a light trace, which is the point wherein the mixture thickens and leaves a trail on the surface. This process of combining lye and oils – sometimes referred to as saponification – turns the oils into soap.
5) Add Essential Oils or Other Additives
At this point, if you want to, you can add fragrance or other skin-nourishing ingredients to your soap. You can do this by adding a couple of drops of essential oils or herbs to the mixture and stirring it well.
In this case, popular essential oils that you could use in your soap include peppermint, tea tree, lavender, and eucalyptus.
6) Pour the Mixture Into a Mold
Pour the soap mixture into a wooden or silicone mold and tap the mold slowly on a flat surface to remove any air bubbles. You’ll then want to cover the mold using a plastic wrap or towel to keep it warm, then allow it to sit for at least a day. During this time period, the soap will continue to heat up.
7) Cut and Cure the Soap
After about a day, remove the soap from the mold and cut it into smaller bars using a sharp knife or a soap cutter. Put the bars on a drying rack or any other suitable surface and let it cure for about a month.
While the soap cures, it’ll harden. You shouldn’t skip this step since this step is what results in a gentle and long-lasting soap.
8) Enjoy Your Soap
Once your soap has cured, you’re ready to use it.
Store the soap in a cool and dry place and enjoy its nourishing and moisturizing properties. This homemade soap makes an excellent gift for friends and family, too.
Note: This recipe makes a large batch of soap, so you might want to cut the soap into smaller bars.
9) Clean Up and Store Leftover Ingredients
After you’ve finished making your soap, it’s crucial that you clean up properly and get rid of any harmful substances. Start by wiping down all surfaces and equipment with paper towels to remove all traces of lye or soap thoroughly.
Next, wash all your equipment using hot water and dish soap. Lastly, store any leftover tallow, oils, or other ingredients in a cool and dry place.
Pro Tip: Troubleshooting
If you run into any issues while making your tallow soap, there are a few fixes you can try.
For example, if your soap doesn’t harden properly, it’s likely you didn’t leave the soap to cure long enough. On the other hand, if the soap is too hard or crumbly, it may be that you left it to cure for too long.
Pros and Cons of Beef Tallow Soaps
Although there are many benefits to using tallow soap, it may not be for everyone. See the section below on the advantages and disadvantages of using tallow soap to decide whether it’s for you.
Advantages of Using Tallow Soaps
The following are some of the many advantages of using tallow soap:
- Moisturizing: Tallow is a rich and moisturizing product that can leave your skin feeling and looking soft and supple. Tallow has high levels of natural glycerin, which is a substance that attracts moisture to the skin.
- Cleansing: Tallow soap is pretty good at removing dirt, oil, and other skin impurities without stripping away beneficial oils. Tallow produces a creamy and luxurious lather that can leave your skin feeling refreshed and cleansed.
- Long-Lasting: Tallow soap is known for having a long shelf life and for being durable. It can easily last for several months or years, depending on how you store and use it.
- Sustainable: Making tallow soap is a fantastic way to make use of excess animal fat from your homestead or farm. This helps reduce waste and promotes sustainability.
- Cost-Effective: You can make tallow soap at home using simple and affordable ingredients. If you do the math in the long run, you’ll find that you’ll be saving money compared to using store-bought soap.
Disadvantages of Using Tallow Soaps
Although tallow soap is excellent, using it does come with a few drawbacks. These include:
- Scent: Although this is a preferential thing, you might not like the natural smell of tallow soap. It’s often described as animalistic or musky.
- Environmental Concerns: Despite tallow soap being sustainable, there are concerns about the environmental impact of using animal products when making soap. These concerns revolve around the potential for pollution from runoff and the ethical implications of using animal fat.
- Allergies: If you’re allergic to tallow or other animal products, you may end up with irritated skin or other negative symptoms after using tallow soap.
All in all, tallow soap is an excellent option if you’re looking for a natural and sustainable alternative to commercial soap. Although there are some potential disadvantages to using tallow soap, you may find that the benefits outweigh any drawbacks.
But as with all skincare products, you should test tallow soap on a small area of your skin first to make sure it works well for you.
By now, you should know how to make your own tallow soap at home by following the simple soap-making recipe. You can either make a pure tallow soap or mix tallow with other fats like coconut and olive oils. Herbs and essential oils can also be used to improve the smell and give it a natural aroma from organic material.
For most homesteaders looking to increase their self-dependency, learning how to make soap is an important step to maintaining hygiene and cleanliness. And another benefit of making soap at home is you know the ingredients in your recipe. As mentioned previously, most soaps from common brands contain chemicals that, when absorbed into your skin, can increase toxicity in your organs.
To end, tallow soap is a fantastic natural soap that does wonders for most skin types. If you’re a homesteader, making tallow soap is a great way to make use of any excess beef fat you have lying around.
For more articles on the many uses of beef tallow, homesteading and living a natural and sustainable lifestyle, check out the other articles on our blog today.
People Also Ask
What is beef tallow used for?
Beef tallow has a few uses, including skincare, cooking, and soap making. It’s a natural and sustainable ingredient and is affordable and readily available.
What are the Benefits of Beef Tallow Soap on the Skin?
Beef tallow soap is a moisturizing and mild soap that’s suitable for most skin types. It has natural fats that hydrate and protect your skin. It’s also rich in skin-enhancing vitamins like A, D, E, and K.
What's the Difference Between Beef Tallow Soap and Lard Soap?
Beef tallow soap and lard soap both come from animal fat. However, lard soap comes from pig fat, while tallow soap is made from beef or mutton fat.
Is tallow good for the skin?
Tallow is a fantastic ingredient for skincare products since it’s rich in natural fats and vitamins that keep the skin soft and smooth.
Related Article: The Shelf Life of Lard for Long-Term Storage
Related Article: How to Store Olive Oil Long-Term
Related Article: Extending The Shelf Life of Coconut Oil for Long-Term Storage
Related Article: How to Store Cooking Oils Long-Term
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