A question that has come up a few times the last couple of weeks is…..why do you use animal fats and other animal products in your soaps???? I know there are many soapmakers that tout about their plant-based, or “vegan” soaps. They’ll oftentimes claim that a plant-based soap is superior to soaps made with animal byproducts. This is just a matter of preference. And it doesn’t mean that those of us who soap using animal products don’t like animals. I can tell you that I LOVE animals and have many of them at my home from cats and dogs to chickens and bunnies.
I’ve been making soap for a lot of years now (nearly 30 years). I’ve made many different types of soap, and still do. But I’ve found that my personal preference is soap made with tallow and lard as part of the recipe. I’ve had a lot of time to experiment with many different recipes. Below is a little explanation of why I chose some of the fats and other ingredients to be used in our soaps (this is not ALL that we use but rather only addressing the animal-derived ingredients in this post).
Tallow (beef fat) and lard (pork fat) are two wonderful fats to use in soap making. Both of these give the finished bar a great skin-feel and both lend moisturizing qualities to the bar. But the main reason I choose to use them is they both help to yield a much harder bar which helps the bar to last longer in the shower. They both also help to produce a rich and stable (longer lasting) lather….lots of it too.
Goat Milk is one of the liquids I choose to use (in addition to the distilled water that is also used) because it helps with the skin-feel of the bar. It just feels nice. And it adds some fantastic moisturizing properties to the soap.
Greek Yogurt is added at the end of my process for a couple of reasons. It gives the soap the most creamy luxurious feel……and because of the process I use to make my soaps (high temp fluid hot process – HTFHP) adding the yogurt helps to “loosen” up my batter so that it is more fluid and can be swirled with all the pretty colors.
Honey is added to my Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Soap. Honey helps to increase the lather as well as acts as a humectant.
The last ingredient to discuss here would be Tussah Silk. This is a byproduct of the silkworm and is harvested after the silkworm emerges. Silk really improves the feel of the soap by giving it a “silky” feel. It also helps with lathering.
I use the same recipe with all of my traditional soaps. The only thing that varies is the additives, fragrances/essential oils, and colors.