When I first started making soap and posting questions on message forums like the Candle & Soap Making Forum
, one of the first questions I asked was "What are the pros and cons of using animal oils (like tallow
or lard) in your soap recipes?" Boy - that sure was a lively discussion...and continues to be one of the most interesting and passionate debates among soap makers. Animal oils have been used to make soap for thousands of years, but the current trend of more "natural" soaps have tended to lead soap makers to vegetable based alternatives like palm oil. But even palm oil
has its controversies. What's your opinion? Tell us why or why not.
Yes to tallow and lard
- I know vegan soapmakers who use it as well. Not using it isn't going to stop animals from being slaughtered, and all it does is become landfill waste otherwise and that's a real sin. And I agree I seriously doubt there's any such thing as real "sustainable" palm oil.
- —Guest Spock
No palm - no animal products
- I don't use animal products in my soap for the same reason I don't eat meat . . . trying to live and let live. As to palm oil . . . I used it up until recently when I heard about all the problems it's manufacture causes in the environment . . .
- —Guest Cyberbeeny
Yes to tallow
- I do use animal tallow-I live where we do a lot of hunting and raising our own animals. If I don't use it in my soaps it will be used to make home made fire starters for the stove and fire place, we try to live as green as possible. Tallow makes a wonderful hard bar. I was raised to use every part of the animal, never waste.
- —Guest navajo
No palm oil
- I decided to stop using palm oil in my soaps-lard makes a great substitute. I'd rather see lard used in my soap than in a landfill.
- —Guest Susan Claire
- I'm a very socially and environmentally conscious person and am fully convinced that animal fats, such as beef tallow and lard, are far more sustainable than palm oil. I render my own tallow from grass fed beef kidney suet that I buy from local farmers, but I feel that even fats from animals raised in less optimal conditions are better to use for soap making than palm oil. Animals are not raised and slaughtered for their fat, and utilizing the fat in handcrafted soap is less wasteful than sending it to the landfill.
If you eat meat, or wear leather, you should not have any qualms about using handcrafted soap with animal fat in its ingredients. Contrary to urban legends, tallow does not clog pores or make harsh soap (unless you miscalculate your lye).
My hand-rendered beef tallow is an ingredient that I don't have to obtain from far away sources that lack objective oversight. I do not use any palm oil in my soap because I do not trust that RSPO is actually "responsibly sustainable".
- —Guest Janie
- I feel old fashioned tallow soaps are harder than any other soap I have ever used. I love to render my own tallow!
- —Guest Ronnie
- I think the fullest use should be made of all we take. I pick up fat from a local meatcutter that would become waste otherwise. It makes a very creamy lather and even vegetarian friends request it.
- —Guest needlefrau
- I use animal oils in some of my soaps. I was brought up with hunting lessons. Do not take more than you need and do not waste any part of the animal that can be used. The same was taught about wood and nature in general. That's just my thoughts.
- —Guest Viper
AO/VO I use them both
- I recognize that ALL living things have "feelings" whether they are plucked from a tree, vine, plant or bush or are raised to feed many people. The humble olive, coconut, soybean, or hemp oils didn't just jump into the bottle; they were plucked, pulled or cut (killed) then squeezed, pressed under weights, heated, steamed or distilled to obtain the desired end product. The end result came from the plant being “killed”, would I be amiss if I stated the process, “was a slaughter without mercy or kindness”? I recognize that all living plants or trees “suffer” so others can benefit from their fruits or as we so callously say, “their properties”. I may be a bit too spiritual for some, but before I make a batch of soap I always say a prayer of thanks to all the plants, trees, nuts and animals that are cultivated and husbanded so that I can make a variety of quality soaps. My soap formulas include: all vegetable oils, veggie/tallow or veggie/lard formulas.
Yes I use animal fat
- Using animal fat does not condone the killing of animals. It just is using what would normally go to waste.
- —Guest Jill
- I'm not sure which is better but I know for a fact the use of Palm Oil is a major contributing factor of the deforestation of c habitat for Orangutans which are critically endangered.
- —Guest Amy
- I think that lard is wonderful in soaps. I am a vegetarian and don't eat meat, but I wear leather shoes, carry a leather bag, wear lipstick (almost all have ao) and drive a car with leather interior. So, if anyone out there owns, or uses any of those products named above, but poo poos the idea of using lard in your soap, you don't know what your'e missing by putting a wonderful by product made from beef, (like your shoes, your car, and your purse and make up, your son's baseball glove, etc.etc. etc.) into your soap.
- —Guest alicia
Oh, the paranoia about animals!
- I grew up on a delightful, hardworking livelihood providing farm where we did not waste anything. People that have no connection with what farming is will never 'get it'. Our soaps were always made with lard and tallow. All 7 of us girls have lovely complexions as we are now ages 59-80. All healthy and living great lives too. People always think we are much younger than our actual ages. :-) Previous commentors are right, the majority of farmers are very sensitive to the welfare of all their animals. That being said, we raise cattle, chickens, geese, ducks, pigs, sheep for food, wool, leather, feather for your expensive down sleeping bags and jackets that you wear on your expensive jaunts to places the average person will never see. The arrogance and judgemental attitudes that are rife in the media make me sick. Get to know a farmer - not an industrial corporation that has thousands of animals where they can not have a relationship with their animals.
- —Guest Guest Fran2
- What a varied response to the question. i am a soap maker, i am also a small farmer/homesteader.
We raise our food, be it animal or vegetable. One thing that prompted me to respond is how QUICKLY so many of you assume every one is cruel in the way their animals are raised and ultimately killed. All our animals meat, pet ect are raised in an environment that is large, out side, sheltered, they get personal attention and live good lives till the end. We Mostly do or own Dirty work, because we wasn't to be sure it's done right, fast and without pain and slabsuffering. I cry with EVERY life that ends. Farmers are not all the monsters some make us out to be. Must are city folk that are to coward to even know the animal they eat, grabbing a slab of meat of the store shelf. I look my did in the eye daily, and my face is the last thing it sees at night, and intimately the end vision. They are not frightened because nothing is different. So please hold your judgments. I love lard so
- —Guest WoodSpryte farm
No but am not a vegetarian
- I agree with David about the issue of animals. It's the treatment of them that I'm concerned about. I eat free range and grass-fed only. But I haven't used AF b/c it grosses me out. I'm new to soap making & love the oils out there. I would love to be a vegetarian but I limited my intake of meat & I want to know the animals lived a cruelty free life.