Lard vs Tallow

Discussion in 'Beginners Soap Making Forum' started by Keaton, Sep 18, 2019.

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Which do you use more often, if you use either?

Poll closed Oct 16, 2019.
  1. Lard

    78.6%
  2. Beef tallow

    21.4%
  1. Sep 18, 2019 #1

    Keaton

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    I've mostly been planning castile bars, but I'm a bit intrigued by beef tallow and lard in soap. I see a lot of people on this forum swear by lard in their soaps, but I read early on in my research somewhere that lard has low lather. I'm looking at their fatty acid content and their "properties" on Soapee and they don't seem super different, except beef tallow has a smidge more linoleic and lauric acids.

    I'm curious to hear some personal accounts/experience with these fats. Which do you prefer out of the animal-derived fats? I seem to not see lard used as much as tallow in big commercial brands too; Ivory comes to mind. When you DO use an animal fat (in the case that you don't use it for every single soap you make), what kind of properties do you associate it with adding to a bar? Like for a nice bubbly body soap bar? Or a facial soap bar? I imagine pure beef tallow soap was a common laundry bar once upon a time.
     
  2. Sep 18, 2019 #2

    runnerchicki

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    I actually use both, but there was no option to select that. They both make great soap. If I had to choose only one, I'd choose tallow because I can get it easily, inexpensively. Lard is nice and conditioning, and I use it in my recipe for swirling because it is slower moving than my recipe with tallow. My finished bars when compared side by side - are not different enough that I have a preference for one or the other in that respect. The tallow probably has an edge in lather, but lard gives a nice creamy lather, which I really like and feels slightly more luxurious. When compared to my recipe with palm, I'd say that the lather is a bit heftier (for both). Not more or less lather ... just more oomph. Sorry, I'm not very good at describing lather qualities. I also use them both together, but I am still tweaking that recipe.
     
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  3. Sep 18, 2019 #3

    shunt2011

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    I mostly use lard. The majority of my soaps are made with it. It makes a nice creamy gentle soap. Tallow is a bit harder and more cleansing.
     
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  4. Sep 18, 2019 #4

    Obsidian

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    I prefer lard but I do also like a lard/tallow blend.
    I'm not a big fan of just tallow though, it has thinner lather and isn't as mild as lard. Lard makes a creamier lather with small bubbles, tallow a thin or not creamy lather with bigger bubbles.

    This is in a recipe with other oils though, not just a 100% lard or tallow bar. I have made 100% lard a couple times and it doesn't have a ton of lather but is still better then any castile.
    Tallow is too hard to come by for me to waste it in a 100% bar so I've not done that.
     
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  5. Sep 18, 2019 #5

    Mobjack Bay

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    For personal use, lard is my top choice, based on performance, ready availability and price. The only tallow I can find locally is packaged in small high priced jars for the paleo/Keto market. I’m not interested in trying it at that price. The soaps I make with lard at 50-60% have a creamy, somewhat silky lather that can be dense depending on how much water I add (ETA when I’m lathering the soap, not to the recipe). I’ve also made soap with butters as the base (mostly shea) and like them more and more as they age. In comparison with lard, the lather is about as dense, but perhaps a bit less silky feeling. Palm makes a hard bar, but in a very generic way, with the qualities of the soap being determined more by the other oils I use. All of the Castile soaps I’ve made are young. At a few months of age they are making a thin, but gentle lather.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
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  6. Sep 18, 2019 #6

    IrishLass

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    I like to use both tallow and lard together in the same formula. They make the perfect combo, if you ask me. Alone, tallow makes a harder, more cleansing (skin-drying) bar with more lather than lard, but I find the lather to be somewhat one-dimensional. With lard in the mix, the result is still a hard bar, but it's a milder bar with three-dimensional lather rather than one-dimensional lather.


    IrishLass :)
     
  7. Sep 18, 2019 #7

    DeeAnna

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    I prefer lard for much the same reasons as the others have said. Ready-to-use lard is easier for me to find and inexpensive. All of the tallow I've used, I have had to home render from suet -- can't find it in grocery stores. I realize I can buy tallow in bulk from Soaper's Choice, but I don't like it well enough to buy a whole 50# box of the stuff. Or even a 7# jug.

    I like a high-lard soap better than a high-tallow soap. Tallow lather is just not as nice as lard lather. A high tallow bar can be overly hard and brittle, but a high lard soap is plenty firm, without being brittle.

    I don't make 100% lard soap, but I occasionally make an 85% lard 15% coconut soap. It lathers poorly at 4-8 weeks, but is nicely lathery after a year of cure. Most of my high lard soaps are in the realm of 40% to 60% lard however, and they are quite good at 6-8 weeks. I've tried a few batches with tallow in the 40-60% range, and the lather isn't comparable.

    When I have tallow on hand, I've learned I like it at 15% to 20% of the total fats along with a generous % of lard.

    I don't cry when I run out of tallow. I would cry if I ran out of lard. ;)
     
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  8. Sep 19, 2019 #8

    bookreader451

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    I have used lard and I was looking at tallow and it must sell slowly because all the sell by dates were very close to expiration. The lard was a year or more out. I found an organic beef farm fairly local that had tallow listed on their website. I would used that I think but, the stuff I found locally is sketchy.

    Being new I am trying thing like crazy and just made my second batch of lard HP. It seems to melt at a much higher point than the CP oils I have been using but, it seems to come to trace more slowly.

    Will the higher temp and slower trace give me room to work with lard in a CP recipe?

    I kinda like the first batch of HP I made. It is two weeks old and hardening nicely.
     
  9. Sep 19, 2019 #9

    Obsidian

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    Lard traces quite slowly so it does make a good recipe for swirling. I use 50% lard in my soap.
     
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  10. Sep 19, 2019 #10

    bookreader451

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    thanks
     
  11. Sep 19, 2019 #11

    DeeAnna

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    I can often get upwards of 15-20 minutes of working time with a high lard recipe and the soap batter is usually fairly fluid at the end. With the designs I do, that's more than good enough to get my design work done.
     
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  12. Sep 19, 2019 #12

    cmzaha

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    Like IrishLass mentioned I like Tallow and Lard together. My combination is approx 39% tallow with 22% Lard. It makes a great creamy bar that lathers
     
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  13. Sep 19, 2019 #13

    Primrose

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    Exactly what IrishLass said

    It's interesting to see geographical differences. Here in Australia lard is more expensive and harder to find than beef tallow
     
  14. Sep 19, 2019 #14

    Keaton

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    Lard isn't hard to find here in Texas, but beef tallow is just as inexpensive. Certainly the beef industry here (and i imagine in Aus) makes that so.

    You guys have some very good and informative insights! I'm not going to sell any soap for a long time, but I was wanting to hear about the label appeal of lard from those of you who have sold your soap in markets. Do you find a lot of laypeople are turned off when they see or hear that you've used lard in your recipe? Does it cost you a sale very often if someone sees lard (or sodium lardate) in the ingredients? This is just for my curiositys sake, since I havent made any plans to sell yet, and don't know what to expect on the ground.
     
  15. Sep 19, 2019 #15

    lenarenee

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    I've spent 2019 trying to get away from lard, or at least reduce it to 20%. I've gone back to my old days of using palm, butters, etc., and I'm not pleased with the results at all.

    Lard does not make big happy bubbles, but what it does have is volume and thickness in its lather; it's like no other oil I've used before.

    High lard soaps cure faster. I swear. My fave lard recipe is about 65% lard, give or take, and it's nice to use at 3 weeks without irritating or drying my middle aged skin. (I use no more than 20% coconut in my recipes)

    Everyone of my low or no lard soaps take 8 weeks to be decent, and really need 3 months! And I'm still not thrilled with them. I've got a 6 month old new recipe in my shower now - and it lathers pitifully.

    I don't sell, but give away tons of soap. One person was horrified at the idea of lard in the soap, the rest aren't. I have had a dozen people come back and tell me that my new soaps aren't not as good as the old.
     
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  16. Sep 19, 2019 #16

    Keaton

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    The people have spoken! Why are you trying to cut out lard, out of curiosity? I'm honestly open to trying palm, but I don't have it on hand yet, because if I can do without it, I'd like to be palm-free. Everyone who uses animal fats has told me so far that they vastly prefer it to palm anyways.

    Oh I did just think of a reason (I thought of it a while ago, but forgot, as I do with most thoughts that come to me haha) to go for lard over tallow as well: I work for a Hindu family, and I'd hate to not be able to let them try my soaps because there's beef fat in them. Speaking of that though, do Jewish people that keep kosher avoid using soap made from lard? Or are pork products not forbidden when it comes to soap? (EDIT: I just went and Googled the kosher question, and it seems theres a lot of debate in the community on if non-kosher fat in soap is forbidden or not.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
  17. Sep 20, 2019 #17

    lenarenee

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    Lol! Very good question! Basically I wanted 2 things 1) increase shelf of my soap, 2) to keep my soap skills in practice by working with many types of recipes.

    I’m glad there’s someone else who thinks about religious concerns about lard. The few Jewish people I give soap to don’t care. But I make tons of soap for refugee organizations and the Muslims do not lard. But then, a lot of refugees still have to catch on to washing with soap.
     
  18. Sep 20, 2019 #18

    Mobjack Bay

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    I have been checking with my testers before I give them any lard-based soap. Most have been really interested in trying it after I explained that I think it makes the best soap. I also do not give away any soap without a label that lists everything in the soap. That’s the hardest work of all because of all of the different recipes I’ve tried.
     
  19. Sep 20, 2019 #19

    bookreader451

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    I have found I love making HP and for some reason my mind goes to lard and honey as they seem to have a more rustic connotation. I used to be involved in 18th century re-enactments and I can see any of the vendors at an event selling lard based soap as appropriate and the re-enactors being excited about using it.

    Yes, I like the results of my lard soaps so far, and part of the appeal is the throwback to historical soap making. That being said my husband is Jewish and doesn’t seem to have any issues with lard, but I don’t thing Conservative or Hassium Jews would use a lard based product.
     
  20. Sep 26, 2019 #20

    MickeyRat

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    I use lard in every batch I make. I have never used more than 50% though. I've had good results with it. Sometimes there is a bit of piggy smell right out of the mold but, that disappears during the cure. In North Carolina, lard is cheap and everywhere. One time I picked up a 25 lb bucket of the stuff. That's a bit much for a hobbyist though. Beef tallow is nowhere to be found here unless I want to buy suet and render it myself...I don't.
     

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