Tallow (beef)

What is it? Beef tallow is rendered beef (cow) fat.
INCI Tallow
Appearance White solid
Usage rate Up to 100%
Texture Creamy, thick fat
Scent It varies with how clean/processed it is; it can smell strongly beefy all the way to having almost no scent.
Absorbency Speed Slow
Approximate Melting Point 35–40°C (95–104ºF)
Solubility Oil
Why do we use it in recipes? I primarily use tallow in soap, where it functions as my primary “hard” fat, creating a bar of soap that ages relatively quickly to create a firm bar that lasts a long time once wet.

Tallow can also be used in skin care products; I’ve seen it used in both commercial and DIY crunchy anti-aging products.

Do you need it? It is an absolute soaping staple for me, but there are alternatives.
Refined or unrefined? This is a personal choice. You can definitely render your own at home, but it is a lot of work and leaves your house smelling very meaty. I have rendered my own tallow in the past but I now purchase a pre-processed version which is much easier, and the end product smells much less meaty.
Strengths Beef tallow is an inexpensive, easily accessible (locally!) fat for soap making, and is a sustainable alternative to palm oil.
Weaknesses It isn’t vegan and some people think using it is gross.
Alternatives & Substitutions Lard is an easily accessible alternative, especially in soap. Read this for more information.
How to Work with It For soap, melt it with your other oils (or follow any specific instructions associated with the specific recipe you’re following). If you’re making a balm or butter it can be cold processed—it whips/mashes very nicely.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, tallow should last up to two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks Even though I’m vegetarian, I am very passionate about using beef tallow in my soap—you can read more about that here.
Recommended starter amount For soap making I’d purchase at least 1kg (2lbs). For skincare 100g (3oz) would likely be more than sufficient.
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use Beef Tallow

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