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Why I Make Homemade Soap with Locally Sourced Beef Tallow

| 2/25/2020 9:16:00 AM

a basket of handmade natural soap 

I have been making soap for nearly 10 years now. It all started when we had a steer butchered at home. We lived on a small property (around eight acres) at the time, and we wanted to grow our own food. Butchering the steer was part of that plan and we have butchered a steer nearly every year since then. When we butcher a steer on our property we have to dispose of all the waste. This meant digging a hole by hand and a rather large hole was required to fit in the head, the legs, and all the fat scraps (we kept the hide and tanned it, but that is another story).

Using Beef Fat to Make Soap

At that time I wondered if there was some use for the fat, because it took up most of the space and seemed like it could be useful. I found out that I could use beef fat to make soap. When beef fat is refined it is called tallow. This is a wonderful ingredient for making soap, as it makes a hard long-lasting bar of soap. It is also very similar to the sebum in our skin, so soaps with an excess of tallow can be less drying than other soaps.

I was very excited when I found out that I could use the beef fat to make soap. This meant that a single beef steer could provide us with the meat we needed for the year, a hide to tan and plenty of soap for us and to gift. Making my own soap with local ingredients has been a cost saving and another skill that reduces our reliance on the outside economy.

Rendering Beef Fat

Rendering the beef fat into tallow for soapmaking is very easy and over the years I have improved my process. I now use a slow cooker to heat the fat. I put the fat thought a mincer (grinder) – but you can also just chop it into small pieces. When the fat is completely melted in the slow cooker, I pour it through a cloth to remove the meat. I then store the rendered tallow in large plastic buckets with lids, as it is stable at room temperature.

When I wanted to learn how to make soap, I found out that an acquaintance was a soap maker and I talked her into giving me a demonstration. It was much easier than I expected. I was especially nervous about using the caustic soda, but after some practice (and with all my safety gear) I became more comfortable. I started with a very simple recipe until I had more confidence to experiment.

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