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Monday, December 31, 2012

What do you put in your soap? (part 2)

I wrote part 1 of "What do you put in your soap?" last August and somehow, I didn't post part 2.  Ooopsies.  So here it is.

I focused my last post on the liquids I use in my soaps, specifically goat's milk.  In this one, I thought I would share my reasons for a few of the oils I use to make my soaps.  Every soaper has his own philosophy and this post is to inform and educate my customers.

My absolute favorite oil in soap is olive oil.  It's one of the most traditional and well-loved of the soaping oils because of the exquisite soap it makes.  Among the other oils I like to use are coconut, almond, castor, and avocado.  And then there are those lovely butters, like cocoa and shea, that are oh, so nice.  I could write a post on the qualities and benefits of each of these ingredients but I shall focus on one category of soaping oils today, animal fats.

Most of my recent soaps contain tallow (beef fat), although I am also fond of lard (pork fat) in soaps.  (I'm a fickle lover when it comes to my animal oils.)  Although animal fats are among the most traditional of soap ingredients, it seems that they are shunned by many these days and not considered "eco-friendly."  In my mind, it's a bit disingenuous to purposely purchase only vegan beauty products and then host a backyard barbecue.  (I'm inclined to think that this contradiction is more a result of effective advertising campaigns rather than an intentional choice, however.)  Really, if you're OK with eating a steak, you shouldn't feel it's wrong to use animal products elsewhere!  Animal fats have been used to make soap for a long, long time, and it's not just for lack of other oils.  How good is tallow for your skin?  Check this out

My own rendered tallow
 However, I don't use palm oil, a standard soaping oil (especially for those avoiding animal fats), but my reasons are tied to palm oil's sustainability controversy in only a distant way. When I returned to soaping several years ago, I took out a small loan (!) and bought a little tub of palm oil "shortening" from a health food store to test it in soap.  I wasn't wowed.  It was nice but hardly remarkable enough to pay to have it shipped from a supplier halfway across the country who paid to have it shipped from another country.  It seems even sillier when I live in a farming region and can buy unrendered beef fat from the local butcher shop at 10 pounds for $1. 

In spite of not living in an urban area, I am fortunate in that I am able to buy all of my standard soaping oils locally, most of them from family-owned bulk food stores.  On occasion, I order a few oils from a supplier a couple of hours away from me, but I have intentionally formulated many of my recipes to use the oils readily available.  Buying my supplies locally enables me to support local businesses (a big deal to me) and I can avoid some shipping costs, another expense I don't have to pass on to you, my customers!

3 comments:

  1. Hi Amy, Thanks so much for this post. I soap with tallow every batch, except for a few castile ones, for exactly the same reasons. I can't wait to read the article on how good tallow is for your skin. I live on a farm and we kill our own meat, so occasionally pork or lamb fat gets mixed with the beef. We get a mobile butcher to come and cut the meat up, he is great and keeps the best fat and them puts it all through the mincer (is it a grinder in the U.S.?) which makes it so easy to render. I love how the soap turns out, and when I have put other "luxury" butters and oils in my customers don't care, so I figure why go to the expense. Our tallow is free, and if I didn't render the fat it would be thrown out in the bush and encourage wild dogs and foxes. So it is a win win, I think.

    I was sad to read your good bye post, although I do understand it. I am glad to have been one person to have "met" you. I have loved reading your blog. I wish you all the best with your soaping, and what ever else life has planned for you.

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  2. Thanks, Louisa, I'm glad the post struck a chord with you. I feel strongly about this and it bothers me that animal products are seen as inferior soaping oils (especially to people who haven't tried them!) How wonderful that you are able to grow your own meat AND soaping ingredients! :)

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  3. Well said! Maybe the meat industry needs to start a campaign re-educating consumer about animal fats!

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