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How to Render Tallow for Soap and Candles

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Let's Get Started Rendering Some Tallow for Soap
Rendering Tallow

Rendering Tallow

David Fisher
If you look on the label of most any commercially available soap today, you'll see "Sodium Tallowate" listed as an ingredient. Sodium Tallowate is the byproduct of mixing lye with tallow or beef fat. (Technically, tallow is fat (beef or other) that has been rendered.)Yup...the #1 ingredient used in most soaps is beef fat.

Whether you agree with them or not, there are a few simple reasons why beef fat (or tallow) is used so widely in soap:

  1. It's cheap
  2. It's readily available
  3. It makes really good soap. The lather is rich and creamy, and hard to duplicate in a vegetable oil soap.
I don't use a lot of tallow in my soaps because vegetable oils are easier to store and there are a lot of people who just don't like the idea of beef fat in their soaps. But for those who don't mind or don't care, I do make an occasional batch with tallow.

So...how do we render beef (or other animal) fat into tallow? It's pretty easy. To render the tallow you'll need:

  • 3-5 pounds of fat-chopped or ground into as small of pieces as possible. (Make friends with the butchers in your local grocery - or better yet, take them some soap - and you'll have all the fat you ever need!)
  • A large soap pot
  • Water and some salt
  • A sieve or colander
  • A large bowl to cool it in
  • Some large spoons, and a potato masher if you have one

Be sure to see the Special Note about the fat you get in Step 10.

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