Apricot Kernel - have been used for centuries in cosmetics as skin softening agents.

Avocado - oil is expressed from fruit, long time used cosmetics, oil is more difficult to locate but can be found in food specialty stores. This oil will make soaps rich and especially emollient.

Castor - expressed from the seed of castor bean plant. This oil adds mildness and richness to soap. Find this medicinal oil at local pharmacies.

Cocoa Butter - is derived from the seeds of the cocoa tree. Cocoa butter improves the overall consistency of soap, making it both creamy and hard. Makes soap especially softening to the skin. Locate this oil in candy making suppliers.

Coconut - oil is derived from the meat of the fruit and is used widely in Asian cooking. Look for coconut oil in Asian cooking section of grocery stores or in specialty shops. This oil while making a creamy lather and yield medium-hard soap tends to dry the skin. Use it more sparingly in conjunction with other oils or fats.

Olive - many grades available, all suitable for soapmaking. Soaps from this oil are hard, brittle, mild, long-lasting, lathers abundantly. Soap from this oil are very high quality.

Palm - like coconut and cottonseed oils, these are not as readily available due to recent health studies showing these as contributors to heart disease. It is still obtainable in Asian specialty stores ranging in color from white to reddish tones. In soaps this color will fade as the bars cure. This oil produces soap with long-lasting bubbles, but kind to skin; makes an excellent facial soap. They tend toward softness so mill quickly.

Peanut - as nuts are comprised on nearly 70% fat, it is no surprise they are a good source of oil. This oil is readily available at local grocery store.

Safflower - readily obtained in grocery stores.

Sesame - obtained from pressing of seeds. Generally available in grocery stores in Asian aisles.

Vegetable Oils - are about 10% olive oil and 90% either corn, soy or peanut, or a combination of these. It is an economical ingredient and yields a decent soap, lathering well, but generally softer than using all olive oil.

Vegetable Shortening - this is an alternative animal fats. It should be combined with other oils or fats as it will produce a soft, low lathering soap.


Beef - this fat is not as desirable as suet as it is more slippery to work with and does not yield as high quality tallow as suet. These soaps are softer and more difficult to work with. Keep fat refrigerated or frozen until used. Best used as a laundry soap.

Mutton - produces a more brittle soap that beef tallow.

Lard - (pig fat) best used for making laundry soap. This soap is mild to the skin but does not lather well so combine it with other oils or fats. Keep fat refrigerated or frozen until used.

Rendered Kitchen Fats (*See technique listed below) - these are fats collected after frying foods and from skimming soup stocks. Since these fats can include a variety of sources; chicken, pig, cow, etc., soap results will vary. For this reason, it is not the most desirable fat. Using too much chicken fat will produce too soft soap and quality will be limited. If using this fat, store collected fats in the refrigerator until desire quantity is obtained.

Suet - is the fat surrounding cow kidneys and once rendered, is the preferred fat of all tallows. Its hard tallow is easy to work with and produces a mild soap. Suet is easily obtained from the grocery store's butcher and should be white to off-white in color, not grey. Good suet is easily flaked and firm. Refrigerate or freeze until used.

Tallow - is the pure fat left after rendering suet or beef. (Rendering is discussed below.) Color is yellowish, soap will be mild and makes small creamy bubbles.


Place the fat in a large pot (stainless steel works best) and melt slowly to avoid burning, allowing about 30 - 60 minutes to heat. Stir melting fat occasionally with metal ladle. Cool slightly and carefully run through a sieve to remove debris. To the cooled fat, add 50% more water. (If you end up with a quart of melted fat, add 2 cups fresh water.) Return to the heat, covered, and slow boil 4 hours.

Cool again and strain through the sieve into a large ceramic or plastic bowl. Refrigerate over night. The cooked fat will have settled into two or three layers. Invert fat and unmold unto a plate in the sink. On the inverted top will be a gelatinous and grainy layers. Scrape this off leaving the pure tallow on the bottom.

Wrap in plastic and store in refrigerator for use.

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