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Tallow tips... first batch smelled bad!

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izi81

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I've not made soap before and decided to start with tallow. I rendered by own, and it sat in the fridge in a sealed jar for a few months before I used it. I did get nice white tallow, and the stuff in the jar never smelled of much. I made my first test batch of tallow soap and phew, it did not smell good! Not when I was making it or when it had hardened. It's been sitting in a cupboard rendering for a couple of months now (basically I just left it in there lol) and the smell has almost gone, but there's definitely still a trace of it there. It doesn't smell rancid I don't think, just very.... meaty. I've used tallow soap made by someone else, and while that did have a fragrance in it (my test batch had no fragrance) there wasn't a hint of 'meat' smell.

Did I do something wrong? I'm about to try another test batch and I'm wondering if maybe
a/. I left my tallow in the fridge too long
b/. I didn't render it enough
c/. I heated it too fast when I was melting it again to make the soap

Any ideas? Thanks!
 

HowieRoll

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Can you share your entire recipe? I ask because it's often helpful for posters to have the whole picture, and also because I personally find using much more than 25% tallow (that I've rendered) in a recipe will contribute to a more meaty smell if I don't cover it up with a heavy-hitting essential oil.

Can you also share your procedure for rendering it? I dry render but have seen several posts referring to LionPrincess' method of wet rendering that seems like it would deodorize it much more than my current method, and I plan on trying it out with my next batch of beef fat.

Here is a post on that matter:
http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=53096

ETA: OH, and one more thing... yes, I've found that if I overheat the fat (or heat it too fast) just prior to using it the smell will be greater. I found that out the hard way when I accidentally put it in the pot on High heat instead of Low and then got distracted... there was no amount of essential oil that would cover it up.

I also wanted to mention that my research indicates tallow is shelf stable for quite some time (a year+), especially if kept in the fridge, so I wouldn't think it would have gone bad so quickly?
 
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izi81

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Thanks for the quick reply. Unfortunately I don't have the recipe handy - I know I wrote it down but in which of my many notepads I'm not sure! I can say for sure it was a cold process recipe, using just tallow, lye and water. I had only approx 400g of tallow so it was a very small batch - too small I've learned, the measurements are too hard to get accurate! I'm about to try another batch and will be using larger quantities.

I did dry render my tallow, from what you say I'm wondering if I should try wet rendering next time and see if that is better. However that fact that you've encountered more smell from heating too fast makes me think that's the most likely culprit. I seem to recall it melted and heated a lot faster than I expected, so I think I too had it on a high heat.

I'll try a larger batch and a slower heat with perhaps a wet render and see how that goes. Thanks! :)
 

Obsidian

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Dry rendering for me always makes more of a meaty smell. After I wet render to fat, I wash the tallow two more times in fresh water. Helps to remove any excess bits that may have gotten left behind and it reduces the scent even more.

Never let you animal fats get hot when melting down for soap. I get my oils just warm enough that it stays melted, around 95 F. I wouldn't keep your home rendered fat that long either. If it don't use it within a week or so, freeze it so it won't go bad.
 

HowieRoll

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I've never tried a 100% tallow soap, but am fairly certain if I tried it with my current tallow it would be, um, a lovely barnyard bouquet. And if I had overheated the tallow first, too, then I would be fairly certain every coyote for miles and miles would be ransacking our home on a regular basis. :)

As a curiosity, and aside from the smell, do you like the soap's properties? Does it lather?
 

izi81

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Dry rendering for me always makes more of a meaty smell. After I wet render to fat, I wash the tallow two more times in fresh water. Helps to remove any excess bits that may have gotten left behind and it reduces the scent even more.

Never let you animal fats get hot when melting down for soap. I get my oils just warm enough that it stays melted, around 95 F. I wouldn't keep your home rendered fat that long either. If it don't use it within a week or so, freeze it so it won't go bad.
Sounds like I have 2 ways to improve the problem for sure: wet render and a lower heat. Thanks!

I've never tried a 100% tallow soap, but am fairly certain if I tried it with my current tallow it would be, um, a lovely barnyard bouquet. And if I had overheated the tallow first, too, then I would be fairly certain every coyote for miles and miles would be ransacking our home on a regular basis. :)

As a curiosity, and aside from the smell, do you like the soap's properties? Does it lather?
The first batch I made was a bit flaky, I think because of the small batch the quantities weren't quite right, but other than that (and the slight smell that remains!) I do actually. It's not really lathery but it definitely lathers up and doesn't feel slimy or anything. It shows promise anyway! I've also been thinking about combining it with some locally-produced oil, so far I've just sourced hempseed oil, but I'd like to see what the best the 100% tallow bar can offer before I start playing around mixing in other things....
 

sudsy_kiwi

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I always triple render my lard and tallow and have never had an issue with smell, whether in CP soaps or in lotions. It does make the rendering process longer, but I think it's worth it for the improvement.

Also, I read a tip that adding a peeled potato to the water during rendering will help eliminate the smell. I've tried it, but can't honestly say whether it helped or not. Might be worth a shot, though.
 

TeresaT

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I have wet rendered beef fat once. I actually rendered the fat three times, refrigerating over night and scraping the very bottom layer off before washing the fat and rendering it in fresh water. I ended up with snow white tallow with no smell. I thought it would be perfect for making soap. I made a batch of unscented CP soap with it and could smell the cow after the soap cured. It was really gross because the scent lingered on my skin. My friends, however, smelled nothing. I ended up rebatching the remaining soap and scenting it. Since then, I've learned not to use high amounts of tallow in my soaps. Lard soaps never give me the piggy smell that some people associate with them. I don't have any issues at all with an unscented 100% lard soap. However, I cannot use more than 25% tallow in my unscented soaps or else I start smelling cows. Tallow makes a nice soap, though.
 

earlene

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Interesting thread. Teresa, by smelling cows, to you mean manure? In my youth I used to hang out at my uncle's dairy ranch and even milked cows. I have noticed that well-kept cows don't really smell all that bad in and of themselves. But that awful manure odor of some large ranches and one in particular that shall remain unnamed (in California along I-5) gags me! If that's what you're talking about, I can certainly understand why you'd not want to smell like that. Just to be fair, not all large ranches smell that bad. I've driven past some super large cattle ranches and dairies that didn't have that offensive odor and always comment about how well kept their cattle are when I notice that lack of horrendous odor.
 

lsg

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I don't like the smell of tallow soap. I don't mind lard soap, though. Your soap is probably fine, it just has a little off odor. Go ahead and try a bar to see how it lathers.
 

izi81

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The lather is not bad (I don't need a super lathery bar but in the long run I may try adding a bit of another oil to get a bit more). I also plan to scent the soap in the long run as well, I'd just like to get it as non-smelly as I can before I do that. I'm interested in lard soap too but it's hard to find locally whereas tallow is easy to get....
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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You might also consider the heat transfer method - get your tallow slightly soft (think of spreadable butter) and then make your lye solution. When the lye is still hot, pour it on to the tallow. The heat from the solution melts the fat and away you go.

Of course, you do have to find the sweet spots of temperatures for both oils and lye, but if you don't need to soap cooler for any reason (colours, scents etc) then it saves having to melt the fat completely on the cooker
 

HowieRoll

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Sounds like I have 2 ways to improve the problem for sure: wet render and a lower heat. Thanks!



The first batch I made was a bit flaky, I think because of the small batch the quantities weren't quite right, but other than that (and the slight smell that remains!) I do actually. It's not really lathery but it definitely lathers up and doesn't feel slimy or anything. It shows promise anyway! I've also been thinking about combining it with some locally-produced oil, so far I've just sourced hempseed oil, but I'd like to see what the best the 100% tallow bar can offer before I start playing around mixing in other things....
Thank you for your soap assessment, and glad to hear it shows promise for you!
 

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