How to make soap from beef tallow

by Liz Beavis
For a long time thought that making soap seemed too hard.  The number of ingredients required was confusing and all the safety warnings about using the alkali put me off.  The worst part for me was that most of the ingredients had to be purchased, and some even imported (palm oil and coconut oil), which never seemed very self-sufficient.  
I can definitely see the benefits of using homemade soap instead of mass produced soap (that often contains synthetic fragrance, colour, preservatives, and has had the glycerine removed), but it seemed to me that if I was going to buy all the ingredients I may as well just buy the soap and save myself all the hassle, and continue buying homemade soap from various market stalls and websites.

soap made by my friend


Then we had the steer butchered at home and I saw just how much excess fat we had to dispose of, it was nearly a wheel-barrow full, and that made me think about how we could use that fat instead of wasting it.  If I can make soap using the fat from steers that we kill for meat anyway, the only other ingredient I need is the alkali and maybe some essential oil for fragrance.  This is a simple and cheap way to be nearly self-sufficient for soap as well as using up a by-product that we would otherwise have to dispose of.

It took me a little while to work out how to render the tallow (see my instructions for rendering tallow in a slow cooker).  Then I found out that a friend of mine makes soap and has done for a number of years.  I talked to her about using tallow and as she was always looking for cheap ingredients, she got some from the butcher to try it (at $2 for 3 kg, it is very cheap!).  She then agreed to show me how to make it.  

With my friend, we used half tallow, and a quarter each of coconut oil and olive oil.  After I learnt how its done, I went on to experiment with a 100% tallow soap.  I have read differing opinions about tallow soap.  Some say it will form a long lasting soap that cleans well, but others say that it may not lather as much without oil in the recipe.  

However, the vegetable oil soaps tend to dissolve quickly in water and don't last as well.  I would like to make the tallow soap and see if we are happy with the lather.  I also made a couple of bars with no essential oil, just to see how that would smell.

Here's what we did:

The oils used - tallow, olive oil, coconut oil and lavender essential oil.

all the other equipment
weighing out the oil/fat

weighing the water

weighing the lye

mixing the lye
adding the lye to the fat after getting the temperatures the same

mixing the soap with a stick blender
smoothing the soap into the moulds

leaving the soap to set

Out of the molds and drying on a rack


Have you made soap from tallow or oils?  What do you think about the frugality and/or self-sufficiency of soap making?

You can find out more about tallow soap in my eBook Make your own natural soap

Other posts about soap:

How to avoid soaping mistakes
How to rebatch soap in a slow cooker
How to use water discount in soapmaking
Natural handmade soap with tallow
Natural handmade tallow soap recipe: big beer 
Natural handmade tallow soap recipe: black magic
Natural handmade tallow soap recipe: coffee grounds
Natural handmade tallow soap recipe: goat's milk and honey
Natural handmade tallow soap recipe: neem oil soap and salve
Natural handmade tallow soap recipe: pure tallow
Natural handmade tallow soap recipe: salt spa
Natural handmade tallow soap recipe: shaving bar
Natural handmade tallow soap recipes: bath soap and cleaning soap
Natural handmade tallow soap recipes: pink clay and greeen herb
Rendering beef tallow in a slow cooker
Soapmaking resources and books
Why use natural soaps and salves



  • Sileshi Tadesse

    Really I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart.You answered my long time question,how to produced soap with natural ingredients which is locally available,cheap and suitable for our skin health.
    I had read your relvent experience,which is helpful and inspired me a lot.Thank you once again.

  • Beverly Kramp

    been making tallow soap for several years. use to make laundry soap. Haven’t bought laundry soap for 5 years. I now have found out beef tallow makes great pastries because it doesn’t have a flavor. So now I use tallow and of course lard for cooking. Most of the time I get both from my local butcher shop for free. I also have starting help others to render their tallow for cooking. You can use any fat for soap. I have rendered venison tallow for soap. So I save chicken, bacon for soap also.

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