so what is tallow?…
This week I decided to do some experimental soapmaking by using tallow. Tallow is in fact animal fat, and in this case – beef fat. For some this might sound completely gross, but soap was traditionally made with animal fat! Soap is at it’s basic form FAT + LYE = SOAP. It is just that these days vegetable fat is often used in conjuction with, or in place of animal fat.
When I formulate a soap recipe I like to have about half solid oils and half soft oils.
Tallow is hard and white, and mildly cleansing, making it fantastic to use as a one of your solid oils/fats in your soap formulation. Coconut oil is also hard and white, but too much of this in your recipe can actually be drying to the skin as it is a highly cleansing oil and can strip away your skin’s natural oils. Palm oil is often used as a vegetarian alternative to tallow as it has similar properties to tallow (although the trade-off here is the potential environmental factors/impacts of palm oil).
So to the soap…
The oils I used in this soap were:
Rice Bran Oil
Here are all of the oils in a jug, ready for melting.
Oils are now melted and are cooling along with my lye water (top jug). The smaller beaker contains my fragrance oil, Coffee Caramel (mmm yum).
Once my oils and lye water were cool enough (I like to soaps at around 100 degrees farenheit or cooler), I added my lye water to the oils and mixed gently with a stick blender until I reached light trace. I couldn’t photograph this step where I poured the lye as I was home alone and just couldn’t manage getting a photo).
Once I reached a light trace I then separated my batch into two jugs (as pictured below).
The design I was going for would be a two-layered soap, with the bottom a brown, which would occur simply from the fragrance oil as it contained vanillin (which causes the soap to discolour over time – the more vanillin in the fragrance, the darker the soap will eventually become).
The top layer I wanted to colour white, so I added some titanium dioxide and I did not add any fragrance to this portion.
Then I poured the bottom layer into the mould which has the fragrance added to it. You can already see it is starting to change colour.
Then on went the top layer.
I then let the soap thicken up enough to texture the top. I achieved this simply with the back on a teaspoon. I love soaps with a textured top. It is one the main reasons I wanted to learn cold process soap making!
I then left the soap in a safe place to saponify and harden. It hardened up quite quickly and I was able to unmould it less than 12 hours later!
Then it was time to cut the soap.
The soap was really hard compared to any of the recipes I have used, and it also looked so much creamier than usual. Of course I couldn’t wait to try a small off-cut. I always try a small piece of soap from every batch a day or two after I have made it – partly because I want to check if there is any major issue with it, and partly because I just cannot help myself! The lather was thick and creamy, and to me felt really silky too. I am so excited for this batch to fully cure and to give it a proper test – to see how the lather is, how long the bar lasts, and to see how moisturising it is. The bottom layer will also darken over the next few weeks too.
I will be sure to give you and update on how it performs 🙂
To find out more about Tallow soapmaking, here are a couple of good articles.
To learn about the cold process method of soapmaking check out the link below.