Category Archives: ingredients

Rendering Beef Tallow

Tallow is an ingredient that is commonly used in soap making and if you are buying commercially made soap, tallow is likely an ingredient. You won’t see tallow listed as such on the package. As an ingredient it will be listed as sodium tallowate, which is the name for soap that has been made by combining tallow with sodium hydroxide (lye).  This Wikipedia article explains other uses for tallow.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tallow#Food

Unlike coconut oil, olive oil, lard and some of the other oils used in soap making, tallow is not readily available in most grocery stores. When I first began making soap I used oils that were readily available and while I could have ordered tallow online or perhaps sought it out at a butcher shop, I never did. It wasn’t until we started buying our beef from a local farmer that I began using tallow as an ingredient in some of my soap.

We had ordered a quarter of a cow. When I called the processing facility to tell them how I wanted our beef cut up, I asked if I could get some tallow as well. At that point I had not done all of my homework, I didn’t know that the fat that I wanted was called suet before it was rendered, so the lady did correct me. I did know that I would have to render the fat before it would be suitable for soap making.

When we picked up our meat order I found that the suet was a large chunk of fat wrapped in a large plastic bag. I put it in the freezer until I was ready to use it.

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Suet

 

I had read several tutorials and I realized that in rendering the suet into tallow the objective was to melt the fat in order to separate out any parts that were not pure fat.

I’ll share with you the method that I used and have continued to use ever since.

I started by taking the suet out of the freezer and letting it thaw for a while. It seems that it is easiest to cut while it is still cold but not frozen. I cut it into fairly small pieces. The smaller they are the faster they will melt or the less cooking time it will take. I put the suet pieces in my large stock pot and added enough water to cover it. I put it on the stove and brought it to a boil. Since I did not want the water to cook off I put a cover on it but I tilted the cover so that some of the steam could escape.

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Rendering Tallow

It took a few hours of boiling before most of the fat chunks were completely melted. At this point I dipped in with a sieve and took out some pieces of meat that would obviously not melt.

I then let it cool. Since outside temperatures were in the 40’s (Fahrenheit) and lower, I decided to let it cool outside overnight. The next day the tallow had hardened and floated to the top. The water and some remaining meat particles were in the bottom of the pan. I had to break through the layer of tallow to drain the water off. I did this outside because I didn’t want any tallow particles clogging up my drain.

When I removed the tallow from the pan the bottom was covered in a layer of mushy grey stuff. I scraped off this layer and discarded it. My tallow was not yet as clean as I wanted it so I put it back in the pan, covered it with water and repeated the process.

The tallow did not take nearly as long to melt as the suet did so my cooking time was greatly reduced. After letting the second rendering cool and harden, I again scraped the mushy stuff off the bottom and decided to repeat the process once again.

After the third rendering the tallow looked clean and pure. I placed it on a tray lined with paper towel to dry and patted the top and sides dry with paper towel as well.

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Tallow

I then cut it into chunks, but because it is very hard it cracks rather than cuts, and placed the chunks in a freezer bag. I then store the tallow in the freezer until I am ready to use it.

Tallow is not an essential oil for soap making, and I realize there are individuals who prefer not to use animal fats in their soaps, but tallow does make a hard bar of soap and adds a creaminess to the lather. For me the greatest advantage of tallow is that it can be locally sourced, unlike coconut oil, olive oil and many others that must travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to arrive at my home and be turned into soap.

🙂 Until next time…

Two New Soap Recipes- The Results Are In

In April I posted about the two new soap recipes that I had made. One was made with   dandelions infused in the water and oil. Honey was also added. The second was made with maple sap and maple sugar sand. https://donteatitsoap.com/2017/04/29/two-new-soap-recipes/?iframe=true&theme_preview=true

My husband and I have now sampled both of these soaps and we are extremely happy with the results.

The dandelion soap, which I am now calling Sweet Dandelion, has a deep golden color to it. I used this soap before my husband and fell in love with it. “Silky” was the term I thought of when I felt the lather on my skin and though it rinses off well it leaves my skin feeling soft. I did not share my thoughts with my husband before he used it. Once he had showered with it I asked what he though. “Good lather, smooth, and rinses off well, I like it!” were his comments. I then shared my thoughts and we agreed my description “silky” translated to his use of the word smooth.

A few days later one of my sisters (J.B.) stopped by so I gave her a sample bar. I told her what it was and asked for her opinion. She said she would try it the following morning. Around 9:00 a.m. the following morning J.B. called me. She loved this soap. She agreed with our descriptions of silky and smooth and told me she would like two more bars.

After my husband mentioned several times that he wished I could make another batch of the dandelion soap I found myself walking our back field in search of dandelions. By this time the dandelions which had blanketed our property a few weeks earlier were now few and far between. I was able to collect a couple cups of dandelion blossoms. I used half to make a tea-type infusion, which I put in the freezer, and the other half are infusing in oil as I write. I will be able to make one more batch of Sweet Dandelion soap between now and next spring.

We were also pleased with the maple soap which I have decided to call MMMaple Soap. I am not surprised that maple sugar sand which is made up mostly of calcium salts and malic acid seems to have dissolved, nor am I surprised that this soap has incredible lather since sugars added to soap have that effect. I do have some of the sap that we saved for this recipe in the freezer yet so I will also be able to make this recipe one more time before next spring.

Anyone interested in purchasing either of these soaps may contact me by email at ruth20012001@yahoo.com and put soap in the subject line.

 

Two New Soap Recipes

I am really excited about the two new soap recipes I made this week. The soap I made on Monday was inspired by the dandelions that are popping up everywhere screaming “spring is here.” I decided that those yellow beauties might just make a nice soap.

Usually before I try something new with a soap recipe I do an internet search to see if others have done similar. Artisan soap makers are a creative bunch and it seems there is not much they haven’t tried and wrote about. I did indeed find several sites with dandelion soap recipes, stories, and for sale. I do not use other peoples recipes but I like to get an idea of how others have used particular ingredients, what the results were and if there is anything major that might go wrong.

By this time I have learned that when adding botanicals to cold process soaps you will very rarely capture any fragrance and I have no way of testing to see if any potential therapeutic benefits from them survive the process. The most I could hope for is to capture some of the cheery yellow color. Hoping to double up on any benefits I infused both the water and the oils with dandelion flowers. I decided to add honey as well.

This recipe is now out of the molds and has a deep yellow color. It still has to cure for about six weeks and doubtless the color will change as the soap cures. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Todays soap experiment is maple. When I did my internet search for maple soap I found that maple syrup is often used as an ingredient in handcrafted soap. My plan was a little different. When my husband was collecting sap to make syrup this spring I asked him to save me a couple of quarts so I could make a batch of soap with it. “Are you sure you know what you are doing?” he asked. I explained that I plan to use the sap in place of the water in my soap recipe. He graciously obliged my request and I have kept the sap in the freezer waiting to be turned into soap.

One morning when we were having our homemade syrup on our pancakes and I looked at the sugar sand that had collected at the bottom of the jar and wondered about using it in soap. Will the sand particles remain sand or will they dissolve during the processing. I remembered reading that it is mostly composed of calcium salts and malic acid. It is not harmful to eat and upon further research I learned that those ingredients can be beneficial for skin care. Again I can’t make any claims about my soap providing these therapeutic benefits because it is questionable whether they survive the soap making process. The sand in that jar was gone before I had a chance to tell my husband that I wanted to save some for making soap. We had a few more jars with sand at the bottom, so I opened one this morning, poured most of the syrup into an empty jar and put it in the refrigerator for future breakfast. The sand and a small portion of the syrup that was left in the bottom of the jar were added to my soap.

The maple soap, if it turns out well, will definitely be a seasonal soap and I expect the sweet dandelion soap will be as well. Although they won’t be ready for 6+ weeks you can contact me by email ( ruth20012001@yahoo.com) if you are interested in purchasing either of these soaps. 🙂

Soap Of The Week – Pumpkin

Lately it seems that I have traded (Don’t Eat It!) soap making for (I can’t wait to eat it!) sap/syrup cooking, so I didn’t make this, or any soap in the past week, but the Pumpkin Spice Soap that I made back in December is ready.

This is not a new recipe. In fact I think adding pumpkin to soap was one of my first experiments in soap making, probably 7 or 8 years ago. “You’re out of control! 🙂 ” was my husband’s response the first time I made this. He has laughingly repeated this phrase several times since – coconut soap, coffee soap, peanut butter soap. Nowadays, however, he is more likely to instigate a new recipe, than he is to be shocked but my creations.

I have made changes to the recipe over the years, but I am very pleased with the ingredients that I am now using.  The fats/oils that I use are olive oil, coconut oil and tallow. This combination makes a hard bar that lathers nicely and rinses off well.

The other ingredients I add to this soap are pumpkin (our home grown), cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. While pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg are all said to be beneficial in skincare, I really can’t say whether they retain their beneficial properties though the soap making process. They do however add color and a light, spicy fragrance to the soap. When sugar is added to a soap recipe it is said to intensify the lather.

When each batch of soap has been cured for at least six weeks my husband and I test the soap before anyone else gets to use it. Our test is simple – grab a bar and hop in the shower. “It’s a nice soap,” my husband said after showering with this batch of pumpkin spice. After my critical evaluation I think the word that best describes this soap is fun. In case you’re thinking, “this woman needs to get a life,” please remember that soap making is a big part of my life. I say “fun” because I enjoyed the light cinnamon/nutmeg scent of this soap, and the nutmeg which has a bit of a coarse texture felt like small sand particles embedded in the soap –  adding a bit of scrubbing power, but mostly it was fun to see the large bubbles magically appear as the soap was rubbed across wet skin. It does develop into a rich lather that feels really nice. This is a soap I am pleased to sell.

If you are interested in purchasing this or any “Don’t Eat It!” soap or skin care products found in my store email me at ruth20012001@yahoo.com and put soap in the subject line.

 

 

 

 

 

The Week’s Soap- Hops

My original plan for this week was to make the soap I call “Hint of Mint” which is made with mint leaves infused into the water as the liquid, and mint leaves imbedded in the bars as well. This all changed when I announced to my husband “I’m going to make soap tomorrow”. As I mentioned this to him he was in the midst of moving a hops vine that had been hanging and drying in our backroom for several months. “You could make hops soap” he said.

I began pulling the dried flowers or seed cones off the vine, I crushed some up on a plate, I smelled them and I said “why not?”. I decided to infuse the hops into the liquid that I would use to make the soap, so I heated some water and put the crushed hops flowers in it. I let them infuse overnight.

I then went to the internet to do a little research. I really didn’t know anything about hops except that they are used to make beer.  I found many articles such as this one, http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/surprising-benefits-of-hops-for-skin-hair-and-health/#gref that tell of the potential health benefits of hops. I found that hops are being used therapeutically in the forms of tea, tinctures and essential oils. They are also added to skin and hair care products. I felt good about this experiment.

Before making the soap the next morning I strained the hops flowers from the liquid and set them aside in case I decided to put some in the soap. The hops infused water was bright yellow and smelled like hops. While I was pretty certain the scent would fade away, I thought this liquid would give the soap a yellowish color.

I occasionally have people tell me that they are allergic to specific ingredients in soap, and I like to be able to offer alternatives, so for this soap I decided to leave out the olive oil. I decided to use coconut oil, sunflower oil and tallow. With that in mind I went to this soap calculator, one of my favorite online tools http://soapcalc.net/calc/SoapCalcWP.asp  to formulate my recipe. To use the soap calculator I enter the amount of each oil or fat that I want to use and the calculator will tell me the correct amount of liquid and lye that I need to use. It will also give me an idea of how my soap will turn out, using a numeric scale to rate the degrees of hardness, cleansing, conditioning, bubbliness, and creaminess the soap will have. I adjust the amounts of each oil/fat until I am satisfied that the soap will have sufficient amounts of each of these properties. I really do love this soap calculator; it has allowed me to successfully formulate all of my own soap recipes. It is a free online tool and I would recommend it for anyone who wants to create their own soap recipes.

It was no surprise that when I added the lye to the liquid the smell of hops was no longer present. I was, however, surprised when I added the lye liquid to the oils that the yellow color also disappeared. The soap turned white. I decided to add some of the hops petals to one tray (half the batch). I didn’t want to over do it, a lesson I learned from making soap with clover blossoms in it (too many blossoms make a big mess in the shower). I thought maybe I could just have some on the top layer of each bar. Since the soap gets poured into the bottom of the mold I put a layer of petals down before putting in the soap. Even though I tried carefully spooning the soap onto the petals they still floated up into the soap. Oh well you can’t win ’em all.

After two days in the mold the soap came out easily.

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Hops Soap

These are a hard bars of soap evidenced by the way the edges cracked when I cut them into bars. In about six weeks we will test this soap and discover what else we like or don’t like about it. I keep you posted.