About our Ingredients

Grass-fed Tallow

Tallow is fat from grass-eating ruminant animals, including cows, sheep, goats and deer. The tallow in my soaps, salves and deodorant is from grass-fed/grass-finished cows.

Cows don't carry much fat on the outside of their bodies like pigs do, so the tallow is all from the thick slab of internal fat around the kidneys.  Because of how cows process carotene in fresh grass (the same things that makes carrots orange!) their fat can vary in color depending on the season, from the hard, pale fat of a hay-fed winter cow to the softer buttery yellow fat of a cow eating fresh spring grass.

Also keep in mind that no one is raising cattle because of demand for tallow (not in this day and age anyway!). Cattle are raised because people want to buy beef, the tallow is more often a byproduct of beef production, either lingering in farmers' freezers or left behind at the butcher from lack of demand. Using tallow for soap is a way to help use the whole cow and prevent waste. 

Why Grass-Fed?

Cows get a bad rap on the sustainability front.  You've no doubt heard all the bad news about water usage, methane cow farts and all the other ways cows are destroying the world.  This, of course, is all in reference to feedlot cattle, not a well managed grass-fed cow.

The grass-fed cow harvests its own food all summer and its winter hay is grown and harvested locally, often on the same fields.  A healthy pasture can produce three or more "crops" of grazing and hay cutting each year.  This is also land that is typically not suitable for any other crop.  Land that is marginal for row crops because of soil type or steep slope can thrive under proper management with grazing animals.

Why Tallow?

Tallow and your cell walls share a nearly identical fat composition, meaning that it is readily absorbed and used by your skin.  I always recommend a tallow salve to someone struggling with very dry or irritated skin.

Tallow also makes a hard and long lasting bar of soap!  Who hasn't been disappointed to see their newly purchased artisan soap disappear down the drain in less than a week?  Not so with tallow soap!  I've had bars of tallow soap last for months next to the sink for hand-washing and as a farmer myself, that soap sees a lot of washes each day! 

Pastured Lard

Quite simply, lard is fat from pigs. I source my lard from farms that raise their pigs on pasture and in the forest.  These pigs are free to root, wallow, socialize and just be pigs.

Pigs create two different kinds of fat.  The more common one is "backfat".  As the name suggests, this is the layer of fat just under the skin, mostly on the back. This fat is fairly soft with a bit of "porky" or "bacony" flavor and smell.  It has a high heat tolerance, is high in monounsaturated fat and is ideal for cooking savory dishes. It's not ideal for soap, though!

For soap we look to the second kind of fat, "leaf lard".  This visceral or internal fat is a large slab inside the ribcage, near the kidneys.  When rendered this fat is snowy white and almost odorless.  It is also firmer than backfat.  This fat is ideal for soap, pie crusts, baking or any application where you don't want a porky smell or flavor!

Why Lard?

As with tallow, I use lard both because it is good for the skin and it helps utilize the whole animal. The demand for leaf lard rarely keeps pace with the demand for pork chops and bacon!  By turning lard into soap I am putting money back into my local community and helping farmers make money from what is often a waste product.

As for your skin, since outdoor pigs spend plenty of time in the sun, eating a varied diet, their fat is full of vitamins D and A and is much higher in omega 3s than confinement raised pigs.  All this means that it is excellent to put on your skin!

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