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The Homesteader Tallow and Coconut soap is the perfect soap for beginner soap makers! If you’re looking for a super basic natural, handmade tallow soap recipe then look no further! This simple cold-process (lye) recipe uses basic ingredients and makes a nice hard bar of soap with the perfect creamy lather you want in a cleansing soap!
When covid first kicked off I realised that my dream of doing my current IRL FT job and doing it at home was finally happening. All that manifesting and desiring and dreaming came to fruition.
And when it did I thought….meh, this isn’t as good as I thought.
Not because we were working from home but precisely the opposite. I realised I was finally at the point I was able to start thinking about walking away from my 15-year career and do something else. It wasn’t fulfilling me any longer.
And working from home, full-time is my goal. I realised I needed to give myself another avenue.
As with many epiphanies that happened during covid, I also started getting really creative. Not that I wasn’t creative before, but all the white noise of pre-covid life – traffic, getting up early, 5-day grind into the office, fitting in horse riding lessons and 12 hours of Olympic weightlifting a week plus doing homestead chores was finally gone. All that noise just stopped and I had time to think.
I then started my profile and blog and realised, I wanted to homestead full-time. But I also wanted to be able to make a living from my homesteading ventures.
So I decided to start making soap to sell on the proviso that eventually, one day, when we moved to our big land, I could sell cottage industry goods from the farm to support my homesteading lifestyle. I made very basic soap for ages just for us, but for some reason never thought about monetising it.
Essentially, this is how my homestead business Homestead Soapery started. A mixture of “I don’t want to do what I’m doing” and “I need something that I can do from my homestead.”
In my heart of hearts, I believe a lard or tallow-based soap is the ultimate homesteader’s soap. Not only does tallow have some amazing benefits for our skin, but it also is a product I get access to through local paddock to plate farms.
Making soap at home: the benefits of learning cold process soap making
Soap making is no more difficult than baking a cake. In theory!
Lots of things can still go wrong with soap batters that could come as a result of incorrect ingredients being mixed together, soaping at disparate temperatures, ambient room/house temperature impacting the molded product, and much more.
I run a separate blog on my online store related specifically to soaping so you may find more education information there.
Making soap is a time honored tradition. And back in the day, it certainly didn’t come from a pump squeeze bottle.
Soap is made by combining an oil with sodium hydroxide (lye). This causes a chemical reaction called saponification. This is the reason cold process soap needs time to cure, so that there are no bits of sodium hydroxide in the soap you are using and so that water used in the recipe can evaporate to give you a nice hard bar.
Wait, sodium hydroxide makes soap? Yes, yes it does. But let me explain. In the same way that you add a wee bit of sugar to your active yeast to bloom, or add sugar to your tea liquid when making kombucha, you must mix your oil with sodium hydroxide to ensure saponification occurs. And when you’ve given soap time to cure, the sodium hydroxide is blissfully consumed by the oils giving you nothing but cleanse and lather and bubbles.
Cold process (also abbreviated as CP) is the primary way I make soap at Homestead Soapery. There are other methods, including hot process, rebatch and melt and pour.
When making soap, I chose the CP method so that I have full control of the recipe and the creative process. Feel like using an oil infusion? Great, you can do this in a CP soap. Feel like adding exfoliants or decorative petals? Or using a mixture of fragrance oil and essential oil? Perfect, you can do this in CP soap.
With its versatility and customisation, I chose to make the majority of my branded soaps using the cold process method.
Benefits of tallow for the skin
Have I told you about the benefits of tallow on the skin?
Tallow, which is rendered beef fat, has been used for centuries as a skincare ingredient. It has amazing skin benefits including:
- Tallow is a natural ingredient that can help soothe and moisturize the skin, making it an excellent choice for those with dry or sensitive skin.
- Tallow is rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are essential for healthy skin. These vitamins can help improve skin texture, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and promote collagen production.
- Tallow is a biodegradable ingredient that is environmentally friendly. Unlike synthetic ingredients, tallow does not accumulate in the environment and is easily broken down by natural processes.
- Tallow is a cost-effective ingredient that can be easily sourced from local farms or butchers. By using tallow in your soap-making, you can support local agriculture and reduce your carbon footprint.
- Tallow has a long shelf life and can help extend the life of your soap. This means that your soap will last longer and you can enjoy its benefits for a longer period of time.
Tallow can be a great addition to your skincare routine, especially if you are looking for a natural and nourishing ingredient to help keep your skin healthy and glowing.
Benefits of tallow to soap making
Tallow is a popular ingredient in cold process soap because it adds hardness, creaminess, and conditioning properties to the soap. It also creates a stable lather and helps the soap last longer. Additionally, tallow is a sustainable and affordable ingredient that can be sourced locally.
I have tried my hand at plant based soaps and I didn’t like the result. Unless you use palm oil or a soap hardening ingredient, none of the soaps last long, they feel slimey and they take far too long to cure compared to soaps made with tallow or lard.
Tallow adds some wonderful properties to soap, whether you use the cold process or hot process to make it.
Some of the benefits include:
- The palmitic and stearic acid in tallow help to make a hard, long lasting soap bar that doesn’t melt away quickly when wet. Vegan soaps take much longer to harden and feel slimey in my personal opinion.
- Tallow helps to produce rich, creamy lather that is gently cleansing and wonderful for skin. Pure tallow soap is very popular for people who have various skin conditions, because it helps soothe inflamed skin.
- Other more cleansing oils, like coconut oil and olive oil go very nicely in a soap bar along with tallow, as the different properties complement each other well. Butters like shea and mango are also very luxurious in tallow based soaps.
- The superfat amount in a finished soap bar means that some unconverted tallow stays on the skin after washing. Tallow is the most amazing skin moisturizer, soother, and healer of all time. I use a 6% superfat for this recipe and I think it provides just the right amount of oil on the skin. If you’ve ever felt your skin dry out after using commercial soaps, this is why. Commercial soaps use a water base and heaps of chemicals to stop the water going rancid and therefore has a low superfat level. In fact, I don’t even think they’d measure for superfat.
- Tallow is easy to work with in soap making, as it reaches trace quickly. It’s not the best for doing intricate designs, but things like colour blocking or doing thick swirls work fine. Soap bars made with tallow are also ready to slice in a short time.
Ethical reasons on adding tallow to soap
A popular ingredient in soap making that can help produce hard bars is palm oil. Tallow is a much better choice, because of how sustainable tallow is. Tallow, lard and palm oil are interchangeable oils in soap making.
Palm oil isn’t a sustainable choice, because so much work goes into growing, harvesting, processing, and transporting it. There are also concerns about palm oil production not being environmentally friendly.
Tallow is always produced on a continual basis, since it is a byproduct of beef. It can be produced locally, and made right at home. Tallow is also a very inexpensive soap making ingredient.
I personally believe it is far more ethical to use all the parts of an animal that has been killed, as opposed to ruining the environment and using a bunch of chemicals to produce a non-animal version of something. It is not better. Nor is it more ethical.
If you’re concerned about a smell from tallow in soap making, don’t be! If you render tallow properly and gently, you can get it to where there is pretty much no smell at all. I’ve seen some people even making soap with bacon fat. While I haven’t tried it myself, anecdotally I have never seen a single comment or complaint about the soap smelling like pig fat.
If you are worried though, essential oils work very nicely in tallow soap to add a lovely scent, too.
Adding fun stuff to your soap
If you enjoy experimenting with different ingredients, you may want to try adding essential oils, herbs, or other natural additives to your soap recipe. Here are some additions you might like to add:
- Lavender essential oil can add a soothing aroma to your soap.
- Adding oatmeal to your soap can help exfoliate and moisturize the skin.
- Rosemary essential oil can provide a refreshing scent and may help improve circulation.
- Adding honey to your soap can help soothe and nourish the skin.
- Peppermint essential oil can provide a cooling sensation and may help relieve tension and headaches.
Remember to research any ingredients before adding them to your soap recipe and to always follow proper safety procedures when working with lye. With a little creativity and experimentation, you can create a soap that is uniquely your own.
Soap making basics and safety precautions
If you’re brand new to soap making, I have blog post on soap making basics and safety coming soon. It’s a pretty simple process and lots of fun, but there are a few things to know before you get started.
Soap making involves mixing fats or oils with an alkali to create soap. To ensure safety, it is important to wear protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, and a mask.
Lye, an essential component of soap making, can be dangerous if not handled properly. Be sure to mix your lye water solution in a well-ventilated area and ensure that pets and children are nowhere in sight.
Always measure ingredients carefully and follow a recipe closely.
Homesteader’s Tallow & Coconut Soap Recipe
And finally, here we have it – the Homesteader’s Tallow & Coconut Cold Process Soap recipe!
Now you will note that this recipe doesn’t just have tallow and coconut oil. Whilst you could make a soap entirely of tallow, I think it’s a bit more fun and more luxurious adding a few other ingredients.
This is without fail, my tried and true soap recipe. I use this as a base for many different formulations.
Don’t have tallow? You can swap 1:1 with lard.
Don’t have sunflower oil? You can swap 1:1 for rice bran oil or extra virgin olive oil.
It’s an incredibly versatile soap recipe that can be built on and modified as you please.
Homesteader Tallow & Coconut Soap
250g coconut oil
50g castor oil
100g sunflower oil
100g Shea butter
140g lye (sodium hydroxide)
380g distilled water
Optional: 31g scent
- Melt the tallow and coconut oil in a large pot on low heat.
- In a separate container, mix the lye into the water (be sure to follow proper safety precautions). Let it come to room temperature.
- Once the tallow and coconut oil have melted, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Add the castor oil and any scent or colour to this mixture.
- Slowly add the lye water solution to the oils, stirring constantly with a mixer until it reaches a light trace.
- Pour the soap mixture into a mold and let it sit for 24-48 hours.
- Once the soap has hardened, remove from the mold and cut into bars.
- Allow the bars to cure for 4-6 weeks before using.
- The oil mixture and lye water solution can be mixed together within a 10-degree temp variation. Do not mix them at high heat or the mixture may rice or overheat in the mold.
- Make sure to wear gloves, a long-sleeved top, eye protection and foot protection when using lye.
- Ensure your workspace is well ventilated and that no children or pets are in your soaping space.
- This recipe is for a 6% superfat. Use a soap calculator if you need to increase the superfat or are changing any oils.
- The INCI names for this recipe: Sodium Tallowate Adeps Bovis, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Ricinus Communis Seed Oil
The soap bar quality of this recipe is fantastic. It makes an incredibly hard bar with superior cleansing qualities. It is on the lower end for conditioning (how much oil from the soap is left on the skin after use) but provides a lot of bubble and is very creamy. To increase the conditioning level, you could always add something luxurious such as goat milk (powder or fresh) or reduce the amount of coconut oil and add something like mango butter. Just make sure you do extensive research on any oils or butters you want to change and run everything through a soap calculator.
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