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Topic: Rendering Tallow for Soapmaking: w/Tutorial  (Read 8818 times)
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« on: June 13, 2005 02:36:52 PM »

I decided to add hand-rendered tallow soap to my repetoire of experiences in cold-process soapmaking. On Saturday, my (vegetarian) husband and I stopped in at Mason's Meat Mart, a charming establishment that not only harbors the overwhelming smell of cold raw flesh, but boasts a large display of collected meat-slicing implements and various skulls hanging about. We purchased 2.5 pounds of raw suet (that's beef fat, kids) and went on our way home. It cost me $4.21.

I thought I'd post it here for any traditional-method soapmakers, in case anybody wanted to try their hand at rendering their own fat.  It's good if you have friends or relatives who hunt deer or raise livestock - you can usually get it for free because it's usually considered a waste product.

Rendering: The Dry Method

Here is the raw suet in the pot. I should have cut this stuff into smaller, maybe 1-inch pieces, but I didn't want to touch the stuff any more than I had to. This will stick to you like no grease I have ever encountered, and it's really difficult to wash off the ol' hands. If you are going to do this, I recommend kitchen gloves so you don't have to get sticky, and chop it up.

Turn the burner on LOW. You want to melt it, not cook it.

SAFETY TIP: Keep a tight-fitting lid handy, especially if you're cooking on gas heat. Fat can catch fire easily, and NEVER throw water on a grease fire- instead, put the lid on to deprive the flames of oxygen until the fire goes out.

After a while, the fat will begin to melt. As it melts, dump it into a clean measuring cup (or something that has a spout) and pour it into a clean jar (I used an old spaghetti jar) that has a coffee filter attached to the top. This will drip s-l-o-w-l-y into the jar, but you'll filter out all the bits of meat, gristle, and connective tissue that may be left in there.

I found using a metal potato ricer to mash the bits of fat helped squeeze the liquid fat out and they melted faster.

TIP: don't let too much liquid fat accumulate at the bottom of the pan because it will burn, and that will smell like a nasty singed cow. Ladle or pour it out as it melts and you'll avoid this.

Once all the fat is melted and poured out, you have bits left in the pan. These are the cracklin's, and if you're really hardcore pioneer, you can grab yourself a biscuit and some extra fat, spread those puppies on and chow down. I am not hardcore, so I threw them away.

Now you've rendered fat and you're left with a jar of clean fat that will be white when it cools down.

I made soap with it using 80% tallow in the recipe (the rest was 10% coconut oil and 10% olive oil), and here are the results:

It's colored with French green clay, and the colored/white bits inside are soap shavings from previous batches. I scented it with a nice, manly, woodsy scent. It's a great soap, but whether or not it's worth the pot roast smell during rendering and all that hard work is yet to be determined!

Happy rendering!
« Last Edit: January 24, 2011 09:48:20 AM by jungrrl - Reason: changed non-working images to links. » THIS ROCKS   Logged
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2005 07:02:51 PM »

Hard. Core.
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2005 11:37:07 AM »

Ha ha!

I'm just surprised anybody responded  Cheesy
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2005 12:07:19 PM »

thats super awesome that you rendered it all yourself. Thats the kinda thing i would do- even though its time consuming and nasty, but just to say you DID it YOURSELF. Do you think youll try this again?

Ive never made soap before, but think it would be a fun summertime thing to do- Does this fat take the place of whatever amounts of oil you use to go in with the lye?

and are there benifits to doing it with tallow instead of just olive oil or jojoba oils?
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2005 12:32:40 PM »

Good to find someone with the same mindset!  Yes, it is nice to do things just to experience doing them all by yourself!  It's a very good feeling, even if the attempt fails. At least you tried - not many people do!

You can do an all-tallow (or all-lard, for that matter) soap.  I wanted to see what tallow was like, but wanted to add a bit of coconut oil (for bubbly lather) and a little olive oil (for conditioning, and olive cures to make a rock-hard bar).  But you can for sure do a soap with just tallow and lye.

Tallow actually makes a really nice soap - the bars are super  hard already (haven't even cured a week) and the lather is bubbly and mild.  Different oils end up giving the soap different properties when saponified into soap.  For example, coconut oil is awesome for big bubbly lather, but can seriously dry the skin, so most people keep it under 20% of the recipe, while olive oil is conditioning.  You can do an all-olive or a high-olive soap, but many find the lather, while mild, pretty slimy-feeling.

The tallow made a great soap, but I suppose the real benefits would be if it were really inexpensive for you to acquire (if you know someone who hunts deer or have a friend who raises livestock, for example), or if you wanted to make some really old-fashioned soap.  I still have half the suet I bought left, so yeah, I'll be rendering the rest and doing it all over again Cheesy

« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2005 10:22:45 AM »

I don't know how you could handle that. I'm incredibly impressed.

the soap looks lovely, by the way.
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2009 12:04:07 PM »

WOW..I love learning about tallow..

thanks for sharing..and the images are awesome..

its ME!!
Soap licking is dangerous..please dont try it at home

will trade some soap for a superhero cape which will be used by the kid in my avatar ^^
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2009 01:35:51 PM »

hehe awesomeness. I'm a big tallow fan in soaps. I've rendered it 5 or 6 times in the past until I found a place that sells pre-rendered.  Embarrassed Your tutorial is great! And the soap looks mahvelous!

Though I have to say that I am a meatatarian and I found the process to be kind of gross, I can't imagine how a vegetarian must have enjoyed it!  Shocked

The only thing I will add is that if anyone decides to do this, call around to a bunch of your grocery stores. The Safeway near my house gives me the suet for free because if I wasn't taking it, they'd just put it in the dumpster. But the King Soopers near me charges $2/lb.

Of course I followed Ann Bramson's advice and brought the butcher a bar of the soap I made with the fat. Friend for life!  Grin (which may explain why I got it for free)

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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2009 10:34:37 AM »

I also dry render my lard and tallow, but do it in the oven.  Much less messier, I think.

If you can find a butcher, see if they will grind the suet for you.  Much faster to render that way.

When rendering, keep the temperature low, just enough to melt the suet.


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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2009 03:56:05 PM »

When I saw the finished product I thought the red and white bits were well, excess products that came with the tallow, if you know what I mean. I know that's really gross, sorry!

This is REALLY cool though - that's really awesome that you tried this! And me being me, I think it's super ecofriendly to not let all that fat go to waste.
I know you mentioned that the bar is really hard, which is interesting. Keep us posted on what it's like when it's done curing? What sort of properties does tallow add to a bar (moisturizing, maybe?)

This is all so curious to me, haha.
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