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Tallow Soap Making

Instead of sticking with all vegetable oils, some soap makers use beef tallow for soap making. Admitantly, I am not an expert in tallow soap making. In fact, at the time of this writing, I have never made tallow soap as I try to keep my creations 100% animal product free. Despite the negative stigma within the vegetarian and vegan communities (and even some other communities), there are some benefits of using tallow for soap making.

Myth Buster: Some people (including myself not too long ago) believe that tallow will clog pores and cause negative skin conditions. This, however, is not really the case! Unfortunately, many consumers associate tallow soap with low-quality and sometimes damaging factory made soap because a lot of large commercial skin care companies use mostly animal fats within their products. In reality, it's the harsh chemicals and additives that cause commercial soaps to clog pores and damage skin, not the tallow as some people think!

Let's take a look at the fatty acid, iodine and SAP values for tallow:

* below fatty acid values are approximate and may vary from source to source...
Click here for an explanation of these numbers.
Lauric 2%
linoleic 3%
linolenic 1%
Oleic 36%
Palmitic 28%
Ricinoleic 0%
stearic 22%
myristic 6%
Iodine Value 45
SAP Value Sodium Hydroxide .143
SAP Value Potassium Hydroxide .200

When using tallow to make soap here are some of the characteristics that you will see within your finished product:

Bubbly lather Some
Creamy/Stable lather Yes
Cleansing Mild
Conditioning Yes
Hardness Yes

Tallow does a great job of giving your soap a nice rich creamy lather and good conditioning properties, but does not clean overly well. Tallow will also add hardness to your bar. Although some people out there do make 100% tallow soap, If you do decide to use this ingredient, I recommend combining it with other soap making oils that clean a bit better.

Keep in mind that when using tallow for soap making an extra step is usually required. You will likely have to render the tallow in order to make it usable for soap making. Click here to learn how to render tallow.

Of course, there are some negatives associated with using tallow for soap making. If you are selling your soap, one of the big ones is label appeal. Many consumers like to see that their soap is made from vegetable oils only. This is partially because of the false belief, as discussed above, that tallow damages the skin.

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You also have to consider that many consumers don't understand the soap making process. The average customer doesn't realize that the tallow is actually turned into a different substance through saponification when it's combined with lye. As soon as they see tallow marked on your label some will immediately picture spreading animal grease all over their body and avoid your product entirely.

Then there's the vegetarian, vegan, Hindu, PETA and other animal friendly communities that must be considered. I can relate very well to these people because I myself am a vegetarian trying to go 100% vegan! When these individuals check your label (and believe me, they will check!) most will run the other way when they see that animal products are used. Some who are stricter in their beliefs won't even buy your all vegetable products if they know you are selling another product that uses animal fats.

On the other side of the spectrum, some consumers really do love tallow soap and will buy bar after bar. Only you can decide whether this ingredient is right for you or your soap business! If it's not for you, and you'd like to avoid this ingredient, you can use palm oil as an all veggie substitute. It will offer many of the same beneficial characteristics as tallow in your soap.


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