4 Things You Should Know About Tallow Soapmaking

4 Things you should know about Tallow Soapmaking + recipes to get you started
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4 Things You Should Know About Tallow Soap

by Liz Beavis of Eight Acres

Since I started making soap three years ago, it has been my aim to use tallow produced from butchering our own beef cattle as part of my soap. I have been very happy with tallow as a soap ingredient and I want to share with you a few things that I have learnt, which might make you consider using tallow in your soapmaking too.

4 Things you should know about Tallow Soapmaking + recipes to get you started

1. Tallow is Cheap and Easy to Access

The main reason I wanted to use tallow was that we had an excess of beef fat after butchering our own beef cattle. Beef fat is very easy to render into tallow (see my post about rendering tallow here) and if you don’t have your own beef cattle, you can usually buy it pretty cheaply from a butcher. Pork fat (which makes lard) and lamb fat are also good options.

Although it does take a little effort to render the tallow, it works out way cheaper than buying oils like olive, palm or coconut for soapmaking. You can usually also by rendered tallow and lard from the supermarket (in Australia its called “superfry”), which is relatively cheap too.


4 Things you should know about Tallow Soapmaking + recipes to get you started

2. Tallow Soap Doesn’t Smell

Often people are worried that tallow soap will smell like meat, but it doesn’t! If you render the tallow and strain it correctly, the soap will not smell like meat. It will smell like tallow soap, which is like the old sunlight soap, or the soap your granny used to have in her bathroom.

You can use essential oils or fragrance oils to hide the smell if you don’t like it, but I make a lot of soaps with no added fragrance and the smell doesn’t bother me.

4 Things you should know about Tallow Soapmaking + recipes to get you started

3. Tallow is a Sustainable Ingredient

Compared to oils, which need to be substantially processed (grown in monocultures, harvested, pressed, filtered, bottled and transported to you from faraway places), requiring energy inputs, beef tallow can usually be produced relatively locally, and it easily processed at home in a pot or slow cooker.

The fat from beef and other animals is a waste product from animal meat production and if you eat meat, you may as well also use the by-products such as tallow.

4. Tallow Makes GOOD Soap

Tallow has a very similar composition to palm oil. It makes a hard long-lasting soap with a light creamy lather. Tallow is also similar to human fat, and so it makes a great moisturiser! Tallow soap with a superfat of 6% is a lovely soap for your skin. That means there’s six percent of the oils in your recipe stay in your bars as oil and aren’t converted into soap. These oils help condition and moisturise.

If you’re interested in trying tallow in soapmaking, you can find recipes and ideas for simple tallow soaps and tallow soaps with other natural ingredients.

4 Things you should know about Tallow Soapmaking + recipes to get you started

Basic tallow soap recipe

(with a 6% superfat)

1 kg Tallow
132 g Caustic soda (aka lye or sodium hydroxide)
300 ml Water
1-2 tsp Essential oil (optional)

Basic tallow, olive oil and coconut oil recipe

(with a 6% superfat)

500g Tallow
250g Coconut oil
250g Olive oil
142g Caustic soda (aka lye or sodium hydroxide)
300 ml Water
1-2 tsp Essential oil (optional)

For general instructions for making cold process soap, see Lovely Greens’ series on soapmaking.

Liz Beavis guest posting on Lovely Greens with recipes for making handmade soap with tallow

Liz lives on eight acres in south east Queensland, Australia, with her husband Peter and dogs Taz and Gus. They have a passion for small-scale organic farming and producing and eating real food. They keep chickens, beef steers, two jersey cows and a big vegetable garden. Liz writes a blog about their farm to both inspire and help others who are interested in self-sufficiency, sustainability and Permaculture. Find her online at Eight Acres the blog

4 Things you should know about Tallow Soapmaking + recipes to get you started


16 Discussion to this post

  1. lovelygreens says:

    Thank you for this very informative guest post Liz! Tallow has had a bad reputation in soap making for a long time but it makes sense that if you eat meat that you should use the entire animal. As you say, it’s less wastage and the soap that results is great for your skin.

    Tallow is also a great substitute for Palm oil, which is very popular in soap making and also very destructive to the environment. Great piece!

  2. Beth says:

    Thanks for your post! I have been an unashamed user of tallow and lard since I began making soap 13 years ago, and I use it for all of the points you outlined above.

  3. Fiona says:

    I only make tallow soap as we too butcher our own cows. Why would I buy oil when I can use tallow for free. And like Liz says it makes lovely soap.

  4. stephen says:

    may i know how much ingredients i need to produce a 1kg bar soap..i want to make soap making a project but need info for costing purposes/like the cost of producing 1 bar of soap using only tallow

  5. Diane B says:

    I made my first tallow recipe 5 weeks ago. 50% tallow 40% Olive 10% Rice Bran
    It is lovely but it is a bit oily as well as doesn’t lather much at all. I am going to let it cure a few more weeks. But was wondering if I need to adjust the recipe. I had to try this for a severe nut allergy.

  6. Sarah says:

    We have to buy our meat from a butcher so we naturally need to pay for the fat as well. So I’ve taken to saving it in the freezer until I have enough to render, then I turn it into soap. Except for the lye it is made from something that people would just throw away.

  7. Laura says:

    Hello Tanya,
    I read that while lye is bad for us, the chemical reaction that occurs in most modern soap-making neutralizes the harmful components. Do you think it is so with this recipe? Thanks for the recipe, I intend on making some wonderful homemade soap for Christmas presents– down with the consumerism mentality that says we must buy buy buy.

    • lovelygreens says:

      This is true — at the end of the soap making process there’s no lye left in the soap. It forms a bond with oil and becomes soap! All soap is made with lye at some point in it’s process. That goes for melt-and-pour and for traditional cold and hot process.

      As for whether I think this is so with this recipe. I wouldn’t have published it on my site otherwise 🙂

  8. Flora says:

    Thanks for your article! This is the soap I first made many, many years ago. Finding beef kidney fat to render down to tallow has been difficult these days, but FINALLY I found a reliable source for a 40-lb recurring order and I’m so glad. Tallow does make an incredibly fine bar of soap. I’ve been making vegetable-oil soaps, Liquid Hot Process method, for quite some time and although the bars are excellent made this way and sell reliably well, so many folks have asked me, “Can you make that old-fashioned lye soap like my grandma used to make?” I’m glad to be able to say, “YES! And it will be available in April!” Found your site while browsing to see how soapers are making tallow soap these days… good work!

  9. Danny says:

    Can one use both tallow and lard in the same recipe?
    And if so, how much of each?
    And, is the SAP for each similar?
    I guess from what I understand is use tallow the same way as (replace) palm. Am I correct?

    • lovelygreens says:

      The SAP is different for each. If you’re thinking about creating your own recipe, please use the SoapCalc online tool to make sure you have the correct amount of lye.

      As for tallow replacing palm oil — they have the same qualities and SAP so that’s a yes to your question.

  10. Sharon Nugent says:

    Where can I buy tallow in bulk for soap making

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