|Tallow has been
used in soap for hundred's of years. Tallow is the
rendered fat of animals. In soapmaking it usually means
beef and lard (pig tallow), but it can mean the rendered fat
from any animal. Tallow makes a super-white bar that has a creamy
and stable lather. It also makes a soap that is very moisturizing and gentle to
I proudly choose to make soap with tallow
because it makes a soap that is superior to an all vegetable
soap. You just can't duplicate the benefits of tallow in a
soap with an all vegetable blend. But the main reason I
choose to use animal oils in my soap is because that is what I
like to make and use. I have made and used both and I have
found I prefer a soap that is a blend of both animal and
vegetable oils. I am not a vegetarian, so I have no problem
using animal fats which are a by-product of meat
production in my soap. I have heard of some soapmakers
who themselves prefer a soap made with tallow, but they have
decided to market soaps that are all vegetable instead. I
considered doing this, and decided against it. I want to
make what I like. I want to make what I feel are the best
soaps I can make. I do not want to make a product that is
actually not as good, just so I can market "all vegetable"
recent years, tallow soaps have been unfairly given a negative
stigma due to
some myths and bad publicity. Tallow soaps are purported
to be harsh, clog pours and even cause acne. These
statements are unfounded and simply untrue. I believe that
myths are perpetuated as a marketing strategy to boost sales of
all vegetable soaps.
Myth: Tallow soaps are harsh.
came around for two reasons. First, we have all heard
about our great grandmother's old fashioned lye soap. It
has a reputation of being harsh, ugly, and even stinky.
Our great grandmothers used to make soap over a fire outdoors, usually right after butchering a hog. The only oil
she had to use was Lard (pig tallow) and sometimes beef tallow.
She had to make her own lye. She did this by leaching
water through wood ashes. To test the strength of the
lye, she would put some in a jar and float an egg in it.
The egg would float at different levels depending on how strong
the lye was. If she used too little lye, the soap was soft
and would go rancid quickly. This was because not all of the fats were
turned into soap and were left as fats. If she used too
much lye then not all the lye would be tuned into soap.
There would be leftover lye in the soap making
the soap very harsh.
Today's soapmaker has access to clean and consistent lye from
soapmaking supply companies or chemical companies. Today's
lye is consistently the same strength, so we don't need to
test the strength with an egg and a jar. Soapmakers today also use special lye calculators so
we know the
exact amount of lye to use to make a perfect bar of soap. This
makes it so there is no left over lye, and not too much excess oils to go
rancid. Today's handmade soap cleans gently and is
moisturizing to the skin. Another benefit that today's
soapmaker has is access to many different types of oils. A
single oil soap like our great grandmother's used to make was
not as good as a soap we can make today with a blend of animal
and vegetable oils. Each oil in a soap recipe adds a
different characteristic or quality to the finished bar. So
most of todays tallow soaps are actually a blend of animal and vegetable
oils, making it a well balanced and gentle soap.
The other reason why tallow soaps are given the reputation of
being harsh is because many of today's commercial soaps are made
using tallow. While tallow is actually a good thing in soap,
these commercial soaps also contain harsh chemicals and
detergents. Plus, the glycerin that forms in the soap is
usually removed from these bars. It is the lack of
the harsh chemicals and detergents that make commercial soaps
harsh, not the tallow. For more information on this, see
my FAQ section.
Myth: Vegetable oils make a better soap than
Tallow and Lard (pig tallow) make the
best well balanced soap. It makes a hard white soap that
is gentle and conditioning with a rich creamy lather. The
closest oil to tallow in soap is Palm oil. Palm oil makes
a good soap that is hard and has a good texture. But it
just doesn't compare in creaminess and conditioning. I
also know that an animal/vegetable blend is better than an
all-vegetable blend in soap
because I have tried all-vegetable soaps and tallow soaps side
by side. My skin prefers a bar made with a blend of animal
oils and vegetable oils. Try them for yourself and
see how your skin feels.
Myth: Tallow soaps are bad for the environment.
Using tallow in soap is an environmentally friendly choice. I
eat meat, my family eats meat, and most of our country eats
meat. Using tallow in soap puts to good use a by product of the
meat industry. So that the whole animal is used. It is cheaper
than all vegetable alternatives, so I can charge less
for my soaps than other soapmakers.
I like to use oils
that are local to me, making it so I don't have to have as many
exotic and expensive oils shipped to me from other countries.
All veggie alternatives would require me to use palm oil. Palm
oil is also known as a "vegetable tallow". Rather than having
to have palm shipped to me from other countries, I choose to use
a local product that in my opinion makes better soap. There
have been some serious concerns about palm oil farming. I admit
I am not an expert on this subject. I will not knock other
soapmakers who choose to use palm oil. I know many of them make
very good soap. Most go to great lengths and expense to be sure
to use palm oil from a reputable source. I just feel better not
using it especially when you just can't duplicate the rich,
creamy, moisturizing qualities of a soap using tallow, with only
the more expensive vegetable oils.
Myth: Tallow soaps will clog pores and is bad for
These statements are unfounded and
simply not true. Soaps made with tallow clean gently.
They do not clog pores and are good for your skin. I have
very sensitive skin. I have been using my soaps on my face
and body for a decade. My skin is in great condition. I
save a lot of money not having to buy a lot of fancy creams and
cleansers for my face. I am a grandmother of six, but my face
won't tell you that.
Myth: Using Tallow soap is like smearing animal fat
all over your body.
Now that is not a pleasant
thought, even to me, but once you understand the
science behind the soapmaking process you will understand that
the fats in the soap are transformed during the chemical
reaction between the lye and the fat. By the time you get
to the end product, the lard or tallow has been altered into a
new substance. If you remember your chemistry lessons,
when you mix an acid (fats and oils) and a base (lye) a chemical
reaction takes place. In this case, the chemical reaction
is called Saponification. The process breaks the chemical
bonds of the fats and releases the glycerin. The lye
molecules combine with the molecules of the fat and change into
a new molecule. They are no longer animal oil molecules
and lye molecules. They have been changed all the way down
to the molecular level into a new molecule, a soap molecule.
Most handmade soaps today, including mine, are
superfatted at 5%. This means that 5% of the oils used in
the soap recipe remain as oils . These extra oils are a
benefit to your skin. Most tallow soap recipes are
a blend of animal oils, and vegetable oils. My recipes
contain anywhere from 35-50% of the oils in the recipe from
animal oils. The rest are a blend of different vegetable
oils. So of that 5% of oils left over, very little would
be from the animal oils, and the rest is from vegetable oils
such as olive oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil.