I didn’t want to have to address this, but frequently it comes up with otherwise well meaning people who don’t know any better. I’ve also had quite a few questions in the past about the use of animal products (lard, tallow) in my soaps, so I thought I would add this informational page on why I do it, and for other soapers out there, what the alternatives are if you’re morally opposed to using lard or tallow.
I mostly use lard or tallow as the one of the hardening fats in my soaps—it’s what makes the bar hard so it doesn’t turn into a pile of glop the second it gets wet in your shower. Both have a long and esteemed history in soap making, and are still used as the primary fats in many cheap, mass-produced soaps today, albeit by other names. You’re more likely to see things like stearic acid, which is usually made from animal fat, in mass produced soap, than lard or tallow itself, and so on.
I understand that many of you are vegetarian or vegan, or are just kind of turned off by the thought of, as one person put it, “rubbing animal fat all over your body”. Let me remind you on that last point that all fats in soap are broken down to their most basic fatty acids and then chemically altered into the final product; soap, so you’re in no way rubbing yourself with animal fat anymore than you’re rubbing yourself with coconut oil or any other oil used in the soap. It’s all undergone saponification and the chemical reaction.
Consider this: I can buy scraps of fat, very cheap, at a nearby grass fed ranch in 40 lb boxes. This provides me with an abundant source of tallow. Every other day of the year, that gets thrown out. Think of all that waste. The animal has already been killed, and all we’re doing is using the meat, and throwing out everything else. That’s ridiculous. So, I feel like by using tallow I am:
As a result, I believe if you eat meat you shouldn’t have a problem with using lard or tallow in your soap. You may even be able to save the fat from meat you eat to render for soap if you’d like to try that. And even if you’re a vegetarian you should consider what the animal gave its life for and how we can respect that by using every part of the animal. If it is simply too much for you as a vegetarian or a vegan, I suggest you consider using method number two as outlined before (avoid palm products!).
But please understand that unless I directly note that a soap from me is vegetarian, all my soaps contain between 15-30% lard or tallow as a rule, and my laundry soap is 75% lard or tallow.