Cattle standing under trees

About our cattle

The tallow that we use in our soap is rendered fat from our own cattle. It's a resource that would go to waste if we did not use it to make soap.

Our cattle are organically raised and grass fed in a grazing system which also cares for our ecosystem and sequesters carbon in the soil. 

We employ a local on-farm butcher to eliminate stressful separation and transport. Read more about our philosophy of caring for our animals.

About tallow

To make tallow, we start by rendering the special fat that is only found around the internal organs (it's not the same as the fat in the muscle meats, like you find on your steak).

Rendering is just melting and straining the fat several times until all the impurities have separated out from it and been removed. This is time consuming and messy, but it's not complicated.

The finished tallow is clean, faint yellow in color, and has very little odor. It's so similar to the sebum produced by our own skin that in Latin, a translation for “tallow” is “sebum.”

Tallow soap is very soothing and nourishing for sensitive skin, skin damaged or irritated by junk-laden soaps and harsh detergents, and for babies and the elderly. Also great for shaving.

About lye and the soap-making process

Lye is a liquid solution made up of caustic soda and water. It's an absolutely necessary ingredient for soap making.

We measure the caustic soda and water that make up the lye very precisely in relation to the tallow.

(Our grandparents made soap using whatever animal fat they had, and lye that was obtained much more haphazardly from wood ash and water. The resulting soap was unpredictable and sometimes harsh on skin when the lye to fat ratio wasn't ideal.)

We carefully combine the lye with the tallow, which starts off a chemical reaction called "saponification."

The process of saponification takes from 4 to 6 weeks to be fully complete -- this is called "curing." During the curing time, the fat and lye become something else entirely – soap.

Once the soap is fully cured, the original fat and caustic have been completely altered by the magic of chemistry and what’s left is just soap. They're now a different substance and there's no way to turn them back into fat and caustic. 

How we make sure our soap is extra skin-friendly 

As well as the long cure time to allow the soap to fully saponify, there’s another strategy for making sure the finished soap is super-skin friendly. 

If the raw ingredients at the beginning are in balance, the fully saponified soap will have no traces of any of them remaining at the end of curing. But if the ingredients are not balanced in relationship to one another, whichever was in excess at the beginning will also remain in the final soap.

So, we start with a little “too much” fat. It’s a soap making technique called “superfatting,” and it ensures that the final soap has traces of fat remaining in it. (In our case it’s around 6% extra fat.)

So we get certain insurance that there is no caustic left, as well as the moisturizing and nourishing benefits of tallow for our skin.