vintage TRADITION

How to Make Tallow Balm at Home

A pictorial tutorial

We didn’t invent the idea of making skin balm out of tallow. We just re-discovered it. If you’re the do-it-yourself type, you may prefer to make your own tallow balm. We encourage it! The fewer people putting those chemical lotions on their skin, the better! If you decide that do-it-yourself isn’t your cup of tea, we would, of course, be happy to make the balm for you.

Here’s how you can make our balm in your own kitchen:

Step 1

Obtain tallow from pasture-raised animals (cows or sheep) that are 100% grass-fed. You can obtain tallow from your local farm or obtain the interior fat (suet) and render the tallow yourself. Begin here if you are rendering your own tallow from suet. Skip to Step 5 if you are using already rendered tallow.

The exact same method you use to render lard can be used to render tallow. There are different ways to render, but we recommend this “secret”, superior, and easy method that works for both tallow and lard:

Cut up the suet into small pieces as shown, excluding anything that isn’t white. Place it in a colander or a vegetable steamer over a pot, and put the pot in the oven at 220°F (105°C).

Cut suet up.
Cut suet up.
           Put the suet in colander.
Put the suet in a colander.

Put the colander over a pot.
Put the colander over a pot.
           Put the pot in the oven at 220°F (105°C).
Put the pot in the oven at 220°F (105°C).

Step 2

Leave the pot in the oven until all of the tallow has melted out of the suet, mashing and stirring once or twice during the process. The tallow will drip out into the pot. (The amount shown above, about 5 pounds or 2 kilograms, takes 18 - 24 hours to render.)

Mash and stir the suet occasionally.
Mash and stir the suet occasionally.

Step 3

Filter the liquid tallow that is in the pot, placing a (preferably organic) cloth in a new colander over a new pot and pouring the tallow through the cloth.

Pour the liquid tallow through a cloth-lined colander into a pot.            Pour the liquid tallow through a cloth-lined colander into a pot.
Pour the liquid tallow through a cloth-lined colander into a pot.

Voilà! Golden liquid tallow!
Voilà! Golden liquid tallow!

Step 4 (optional)

If you are setting some or all of the tallow aside to make into balm later, you can pour it into jars and let it cool and solidify. Pure tallow can be kept for extended periods without the need for refrigeration, but you can keep it refrigerated anyway.

To set tallow aside, pour it into jars and let it solidify...
To set tallow aside, pour it into jars...
           ...and let the tallow cool and solidify.
...and let the tallow cool and solidify.

Step 5

If you are starting with solid tallow, rendered at the farm or previously by yourself, melt it gently in the oven at 120 to 150°F (49 to 56°C).

Add organic extra virgin olive oil (or other ingredient(s)) to the liquid tallow to make balm.
Add organic extra virgin olive oil
or other ingredient(s)
to the liquid tallow to make balm.

With the tallow in the liquid state but as cool as possible (around 120°F or 49°C), thoroughly mix in the other pure, natural ingredient(s) of your choice to make the tallow softer and more spreadable at room temperature. (Pure tallow has a hard, waxy consistency; candles used to be made from tallow.) Put the mixture in the refrigerator and let it solidify. This gives the balm a smoother consistency than letting it solidify at room temperature.

The amount of the other ingredient(s) that you mix with the tallow will depend on the ingredient and the degree of spreadability you are looking for. We use extra virgin olive oil in the proportion (by weight) of 8 or 9 parts tallow to 1 part olive oil. Olive oil has been considered a healing salve for the skin since ancient times due to its soothing, cleansing, and moisturizing properties. Olive oil is liquid at room temperature, so not much is needed to soften the tallow. If you use a product that is more solid, such as coconut oil, palm oil, or shea butter, you will need to use more, partially defeating the goal of having a balm high in tallow content. Whatever you use, be sure it is pure and organic. For example, coconut oil, palm oil, and shea butter are sometimes extracted using hexane, which is refined gasoline. Know your ingredients.

Pour the tallow balm into the containers of your choice...
Pour the tallow balm into
the containers of your choice...
           ...and let the tallow balm cool and solidify in the refrigerator.
...and let the tallow balm cool and solidify
in the refrigerator.

Step 6

If desired, you can add essential oils to the liquid mixture as well. We use specific essential oils, such as lavender, that are known for their long-standing tradition of being healing to the skin. Another major benefit of using essential oils in your balm is to give it a fresh, pleasant scent and to neutralize the scent of the tallow, which is distinctive although not necessarily unpleasant. Since essential oils are extremely concentrated, not much is needed, but care should be taken not to use any that are adulterated, extended, synthesized, or distilled using chemicals or high temperatures and pressure. For this reason, we use therapeutic-grade, genuine essential oils. Again, it is important to know your ingredients and to remember the principle of using only those ingredients that are edible whole foods. You will be able to take pride in the fact that you could take out a spoon and eat this balm since it is a nourishing food for skin and body!

Traditional nourishing and healing skin care!
Traditional nourishing and healing skin care!