In this article:
- Lard (or “pig tallow”) is the rendered fat from a hog.
- “Rendered” fat means that the raw pig fat is heated to a melting point (around 120-150 degrees F) then cooked for a short period of time to filter the fat from any other natural meaty substances that remain after butchering.
- Tallow is the rendered cow’s fat from bovine.
- “Rendered” fat means that the raw cow fat is heated to a melting point (around 150-170 degrees F) then cooked for a short period of time to filter the fat for purity.
Many people also use the word “tallow” to describe other rendered animal fats. To lessen confusion, we refer to pig tallow as “lard“, which is it’s true definition. Other animal fat types may also have unique name descriptions. For instance: organ fats from cows are called “suet tallow“, while organ fats from pigs are called “leaf lard“. Another random example is that sheep tallow is referred to as “mutton fat”. These names are helpful to distinguish between different types of rendered animal fats. However, when we refer to “tallow” or “suet tallow” on a label, we are only referring to rendered cow fats.
History of Uses
FOOD: Humans have eaten the fats of wild animals, including hogs and pigs for a very long time. Fats were rendered from cooking meats over a fire and also using those fats to cook other plant matter, making them more digestible. Lard has extensive uses in baking as a natural, healthy shortening – providing a flaky, hearty and delicious crust or bread.
- SOAP: Animal fat soaps were the original soap made. Likely discovered by accident – a crude form of soap was reported to happen from the fat drippings cooked over a primitive fire mixed with a natural lye made from wood ash that had been filtered with rainwater, resulting in a soapy substance!
- SKINCARE: As long as people have been using lard for food purposes, it easily migrated its way over to the beauty counter of women and men. As lard is rendered animal fat, the composition of the lard oil is most similar to the composition of human skin’s natural sebum (skin oil). This makes it a suitable moisturizer for individuals who have sensitivities or allergies to commercial moisturizers.
- HAIRCARE: Since medieval times women have used pig fat to help regrow hair with success. Women also used to set and condition their hair with lard. The combination of lard and starches produced rigid curls and stiff hair styles for women and men in the 17th and 18th centuries.
While lard is wonderful for skincare and haircare, there are stability issues that prevent it from mainstream commercialization. Lard does not always have a consistent color, appearance, and odor from batch-to-batch based on seasonal diet and environmental exposures of the pigs.
- FOOD: For a very long time, humans have eaten the fats of ruminants (grazing animals), including bovine (cow). Fats were rendered from cooking meats over a fire and also using those fats to cook other plant matter, making them more digestible.
- SOAP: Animal fat soaps were the original soaps made. Likely discovered by accident – a crude form of soap was reported to happen from the fat drippings cooked over a primitive fire mixed with a natural lye made from wood ash that had been filtered with rainwater, resulting in a soapy substance!
- BEAUTY: Tallow has a long history in humanity of being used to soothe and moisturize skin. It is only in more recent times that plant oils and petroleum based products have taken the place of tallow in skincare.
As tallow is rendered animal fat, the composition of the tallow oil is similar to the composition of human skin’s natural sebum. This makes it often a suitable moisturizer for individuals who have sensitivities to commercial moisturizers.
While tallow is great for body care, there are stability issues that prevent it from mainstream commercialization. Tallow does not always have a consistent color, appearance, and odor from batch-to-batch based on seasonal diet and environmental exposures of the cows.
- CANDLES: Tallow once was widely used to make candles before more convenient wax varieties became available—and for some time after since they continued to be a cheaper alternative. For those too poor even to avail themselves of homemade, molded tallow candles, the “tallow dip”—a reed that had been dipped in melted tallow or sometimes a strip of burning cloth in a saucer of tallow grease—was an accessible substitute. Such a candle was often simply called a “dip” or, because of its low cost, a “farthing dip” or “penny dip”. Due to the rarity of tallow used in a candle now, tallow candles have become one of the high-end costing candles, a close second to beeswax candles.
- Pasture-Raised, Grass-Fed fats are very important to retain the most natural, balanced, and nutritious fatty acid profiles, which contributes to the effectiveness of our claims (described in more detail below). For instance, the animals’ sunlight exposure is absolutely crucial for the development of Vitamin D3 levels in the animals’ fats. This is just one example – the varieties of fresh, seasonal foods creates more natural health and vitality in the animals, making them richer in other beneficial nutrients as well.
- Hand-Rendered fats are important to make sure no additives were unnecessarily mixed into the final product (such as nitrates, BHT, chemical bleaches, chemical preservatives, etc.) Hand-rendering also insures that the temperatures were never raised to hot levels for long periods of time, which destroys some vitamins and other nutrients according to nutritional scientists.
- Farm-Fresh, Local fats are very important to insure the provision of the freshest, most nutrient-dense fats available.
Fatty acids are the building blocks of fat, these fats are necessary for all life forms on Earth. All 3 categories of fats contained in animal fats are essential for basic biological functions (including basic skincare and haircare) in their proper proportions. These three fats are known as Saturated and the 2-in-1 Unsaturated (Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated).
(Mono & Poly)
As you can see, the differences in fatty profiles vary but are still very similar! The main difference in tallow from lard is that it has slightly more saturated fatty acids by a mere 3% and an additional polyunsaturated fatty acid called Linolenic Acid. All of these minute chemical differences causes us to treat them differently, however. We have to make products in various ways depending upon the fat we choose to use and their applications.
|Nutrients||Lard (per 1 Tbsp)||Tallow (per 1 Tbsp)|
Due to lard’s larger nutrient profile and differing fatty acids, we find lard much more useful for certain applications than tallow and visa-versa – let’s dive deeper into that!
Various Uses Based On All The Differences
Both Have Their Proper Places!
Lard’s Best Uses for Us
- Hair Products: Since pasture-raised lard is lighter and softer in texture, higher in unsaturated fatty acids, and higher in certain nutrients like Vitamin D3 – it makes a perfect fat to use as a base for our shampoo soaps, conditioners, and hair oils!
- Liquid Lotions: Since lard is lighter and softer in texture, it makes a perfect fat to use as a base for our liquid lotions – insuring better stability for varying temperatures.
- Soap Products: Since lard is low (0-2) on the comedogenic scale (0-5, coconut and palm oils being a 4!) it will not clog pores – great for facial soaps! Since it is higher in unsaturated fatty acids, it provides more bubbly lather and a squeakier cleanse, which is essential for our shampoo soaps. A pure lard soap designed for the skin even cleanses and nourishes hair quite well – unlike pure tallow soap. We usually do NOT recommend tallow soaps for hair as they are harder to clean with and provide a heavier, waxier feel.
- Bath Bombs: Since lard is softer at lower temperatures, it is great for fatty bath bombs – Insuring well-nourished skin and cleaner drains that won’t clog up as easily!
Tallow’s Best Uses For Us
- Moisturizers: Since tallow is heavier and harder in texture, higher in saturated fatty acids, and higher in Vitamin E (also more shelf-stable) – it makes a perfect fat to use as the main base for our body butters and butter balms!
- Soap Products: Since tallow is a heavier and harder fat, higher in saturated fatty acids and low (0-2) on the comedogenic scale (0-5, coconut and palm oils being 4)- it makes a good, moisturizing soap. Tallow soap has a creamy but flat lather, making it perfect for a hand/body soap!
- NOT recommended for hair, although with some practice and patience one could manage to use it as a shampoo soap – it tends to weigh down hair easily and causes more of a waxy texture. We do offer only ONE shampoo soap option made with tallow.
- Deodorants: Tallow makes a great fat base for our deodorants since it is hard enough to be stable, yet soft enough to apply and absorb easily on the skin.
- Candles & Wax Melts: Since tallow is a harder fat, higher in saturated fatty acids – it makes a very useful candle fuel and wax melts. When mixed with beeswax in the correct proportions, tallow helps to create a brighter candle flame and softer wax melt for healthier scent distributions that require lower temperatures.
Have More Questions?
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