It’s funny how life works. A few months ago, I was not thinking about making soap. Although I have made soap before, it hadn’t even crossed my mind that we could make soap out of lamb fat. Fast forward to today and now my YouTube feed is filled with videos on how to render tallow and how to make soap with tallow. My Google search history consists of articles about the reasons to use tallow in soap, from the hardness tallow contributes to the lather to the benefits to our skin. I have soap on order from a sheep farm in Manitoba so I can see what a soap made from lamb tallow is like. And there is a bar of soap from a local soap maker who uses beef tallow being tested out in our shower right now.
It is this local soap maker who prompted this learning journey. Back in the fall, a customer had asked for wool for the purposes of making felted soap with a kindergarten class and I thought it might be a good product for us. We could buy local soap and then felt it ourselves with our own wool as a special stocking stuffer at Christmas. I suggested it to Brody as an idea and made a note to revisit it the following year. A few months later, Brody was approached by a vendor at the Thunder Bay Country Market who sells soap. She asked if we had ever heard of felting soap and was wondering if we planned to do it in the future. Brody said yes, we were, and she suggested we make the soap ourselves. Using our own fat from the lambs. And a lightbulb went off!
One of our goals here at Borderlands Farm is to use as much of the animal as possible. We see this as a responsibility we have to the animal, as well as a way to minimize waste. Although we have a long list of products to develop to help us accomplish this goal, we hadn’t yet considered the fat. In all honesty, I don’t think I have ever used a soap that had tallow fat in it before. As I started to look around at all the soaps made locally, I realized that the soap maker at the market was unique in her use of animal fats and local ingredients. And so, my learning journey began.
Unlike the dog treats that we made quite easily with one piece of equipment and zero learning curve, making good soaps is going to be a longer road. My first step was to make sure that our local abattoir was able to separate the right fats from our lambs for me as the whole point is to make soap from our own lamb fat. This I was able to confirm just this past week. My next step is to make sure that these rendering methods I am learning about actually are effective. The local soap we are trying is a good example of this as it lathers well and cleans well. It smells like good, pure soap. And so, I am optimistic that I will be able to make a really good soap out of our lamb tallow.
The big question is whether there is interest beyond our family. What do you think? Are you interested in trying a tallow-based soap? Or learning more about it? I hope you will weigh in and let me know what you think. I am excited to give it a try. I will let you know how the rendering goes.
Image: Lamb suet is fat from around the organs.