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Readers Respond: Do you use animal oils in your soap recipes?

Responses: 45

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Soap Crafter

Yes, I do! I make both with and without. Growing up in the mountains we used everything we had, no waste. I love all of the soaps I make, both ways.
—Guest S. M. Babcock

Why not?

We butcher a beef each year for food. Why not use the tallow for soap? Why let it go to waste?
—Guest Mary

Yes, I use animal fat.

We raise our own beef, so there is a lot of tallow that we would be wasting if it wasnt for my soapmaking. It makes a good hard bar of soap that cleans well. I usually use other oils in conjunction with the tallow to give me the properties I want for that particular batch of soap.
—Guest Jerye

Nothing beats tallow!

I've tried just about every oil available and - in my opinion - tallow makes THE best, most well-balanced bar of soap. I render my own fat, which I get from a local butcher. He's happy to give it to me, because otherwise it would go to waste. Tallow has been given a bad rap, unfairly. It's not bad for your skin as many people believe. The unfounded claims that it irritates your skin stem from back when households made their own soap and the chemistry was not precise, often times resulting in lye heavy soap. This is what irritated the skin, not the tallow. Around this time vegetable oil soaps started being made by companies with greater knowledge of chemistry than your grandma. This is the only reason vegetable oils are considered superior. It has nothing to do with the oil and everything to do with the chemistry. My family and friends have been using my tallow soap exclusively for ages now, and our skin is more beautiful and healthy than it's ever been!
—Guest Summer - EraWeb Tallow Works

Gotta have it.

Most of my soaps are 5 veggie blend. I make Grandpa's Lye Soap from lard and saddle soap from beef tallow. To use any other oils in these soaps would be inappropriate to the traditions of these soaps.
—Guest Sunfloweranne

No AO for me

Personally I do not use tallow or lard inmy soaps. When I got into soap making, I made my own bars before buying other homemade soaps and I knew that I didn’t care to use tallow or lard with my soaps. I am not vegetarian and I am not vegan as I eat salmon on occasion, but I have always tried to limit my use of animal products. I really appreciate being able to source local ingredients and using up any leftovers that would otherwise go to waste, but I didn’t care to handle tallow myself. When I started buying homemade soap from other makers I preferred soaps without animal products, but I figured it wouldn’t matter if the soap did have tallow in it. I learned really quickly, after the first set of soaps I ordered that contained tallow that I not only hated the smell, but also hated how I felt when I lathered up animal fat onto my skin. I tried it, but it drove me crazy and I ended up giving the entire order away.
—Guest Danielliia

I will look for AO

I love soap, and the amazing idea occurred to me today that I could make it myself! While researching, I came across this debate. Based on what I've been reading, I will definitely be using AO in my soap, and it will likely be a combination of veggie and animal oils. I live in a city that has many farms in the surrounding area, and I'm thinking about posting an ad to obtain tallow from any farmers who don't use it on their own. That's a nice way to be sustainable, and keep it local. Just thoughts!
—Guest jenntropy

Animal oils/fats in soap

I personally do use animal oils in my soap. I do make some batches without for those opposed. When I was growing up, I was taught about Native Americans in school, and how they would never let any part of an animal go to waste. Every part had a need and a purpose. Would I want animals to be used solely for their oil? Of course not, but in the case of tallow and lard, my two favorites, if it was going to go to waste anyhow, then I will use it in my soap, almost as a sort of respect to the animal, because every bit had it's purpose.
—Guest Mish314

I use AO

I make soap for a living history farm and use AO. I am a volunteer and other volunteers save animal fat for me. That is what was done in the time period of the history farm and we give samples to visitors, especially school children and they find it fascinating that fat can turn into something useful. ao
—Guest Rayne

Animal fat in soap

My favorite soap uses tallow. We butcher our own beef and if the tallow isn't used it's thrown away. I think that's a waste. I've tried different fats, vegetable and animal, but tallow is my favorite.
—Guest Mary

I never use animal oils

I tried lard a couple times many years ago and won't do it again. It makes the bar smell odd & now I can always tell if someone uses lard in their soap without looking at the ingredients. Plus I'm a vegetarian so that is another reason why I won't use any animal oils. You can get a wonderful soap out of just veggies oils :)
—Guest lovethyscent

to each her own

I use only vegetable oils in my soaps because I market to the Whole Foods crowd, but I certainly respect the right of others to use animal fats. They're both completely natural and one is not inherently better than the other. If you are vegetarian or vegan, use vegetable oil soaps, but if you eat meat, you really can't be opposed to soaps made with animal fats. The biggest issue is finding animals that were raised humanely. That's where the controversy lies. Another issue is the sustainability of soaps made with vegetable oils from half way around the world. This has always troubled me. Excellent topic David.
—Guest a wild soap bar LLC

Anti- AO's seems daft

I can understand why vegetarians would want wholly VO soaps & cosmetics. But for the vast majority of us who eat the meat & wear the skins it is inconsistant lunacy to waste the oils. In England the choice is even more stark. We are knee deep in home grown Tallow ( sold in supermarkets as Pork Lard & Beef Dripping). The only other oil we produce in any large quantity is oil seed Rape. Even Olive oil has to come from Southern Europe. The single most un-natural thing you can do in soap making is to send all the ingredients half way round the globe before making it. Plus,as already discussed , much palm oil production is planetary vandalism. The irony being that it is only an inferior alternative to tallow anyway. As the 'Food miles' debate is moving up the political agenda so should 'soap' or 'cosmetic miles' & then perhaps the 2 sides ( AO vs VO) can stop this petty bickering about which is" more natural " & start talking sensibly about using good, abundant local ingredients .
—chickenjane

Only Organic Vegetable Oils

We use only organic oils in our soaps-organic vegetable and organic essential oils. Our main reason is to provide the best possible natural soap with sustainability in mind. We carefully choose the highest grade oils available from companies who are committed to organic farming, sustainability and fair-trade when possible. Yes, it costs A LOT more money to make, but we love it and so do our customers. Darlene, Mt. Hood Organics
—Guest Darlene-Mt. Hood Organics

Pro- AO soap

Really, I see no fault in using AOs; they are readily available and its not like people are about to stop eating meat now, are they. What then becomes of the tonnes of tallow and lard that remains? As soapers, I believe we are actually putting all that fat to good use; in fact, with the exception of exotic tallows no other animal is actually killed for the sole purpose of using the fat for soap- its a case of dealing with a consequence of the evil that has already been committed. As for the skin conditioning properties of AOs, I have read many sites that have dispelled the misconceptions that AOs clog pores- we all know that they are not the best moisturisers, which is where the veggie oils come in! I'm definitely for a blend of both oil types.
—Guest Soap_opera
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