Tallow Soap - The low down

Tallow Soap

In our search to go back to the absolute core of how things were made before we started literally bathing ourselves in chemicals, we came across one of the most unique ingredients - tallow. Tallow has been used in soap making as well as skin healing products for thousands of years, unfortunately they disappeared from the market about the same time that we stopped consuming fat because it was "bad" for you - oddly enough the world became more obese and diseased since then.

Most of the cosmetic industry will tout their soaps and creams protects the skins "sebum" - it would come as no surprise when we read that the word sebum in latin actually means tallow. This is no coincidence as the cell biology of tallow is similar to skin (we are animals after all and not plants) as it is typically 50 to 55 percent saturated, just like our cell membranes, with almost all of the rest being monounsaturated.1 This similarity means that tallow does not leave an oily or greasy film on the skin, it is absorbed well by the skin and its softening effects can be felt rather quickly.

The nutrient make up of plants is obviously different to that of animals and as such, some nutrients can only be derived from animal sources - Vitamins A, D, K and E are found in tallow and these are well known for their contribution to healthy skin.

As for tallow in soap, let's start with the facts - all soap is made using fat, whether it is plant or animal fat, it is an essential part of the soap making process. There are a number of plant alternatives and the one that is commonly used is palm - which we refuse to use.

Palm oil used as ridiculously cheap alternative with the claim that it is plant based, natural and non animal derived yet if you do your own research you will quickly understand why it is cheap - it is unsustainably harvested and in many cases exploits workers in foreign countries.

Tallow is considered a waste product of the meat industry and using it in soaps is in fact reducing waste and being far more environmentally conscious, particularly when we do not add any chemicals to our soap so the grey water run off from our products is safe.

Saponified Tallow has no smell at all which makes it perfect to make soap as we can showcase the signature scents from our essential oils. In fact, the most expensive shaving soaps from London use tallow as their base - they use the term Sodium Tallowate in their ingredients list which is tallow which has been made into soap using lye. 

Here at Scumbag & Gentleman we have personally tested many soaps and after many years we settled on exclusively using tallow based body and shaving soaps and believe it is superior to most soaps we have used, therefore we use tallow in making our soaps. 

We have choice in life and if your choice is to not use animal based products then we respect that.

1 - Fallon, Sally, Enig, Mary G., PhD (1 Jan. 2000). “The Oiling of America” section: “Dangers of Polyunsaturates”.