It’s no secret that we are big fans of tallow around here. Whether using for cooking or skincare products, tallow is a staple for our family. After trying everything under the sun to help my skin—prone to dryness—tallow balm has been far and away my favorite.
When our infant son began to experience dry skin and eczema patches as well, tallow balm has taken permanent residence in our medicine cabinet. Thankfully, with only two ingredients, making it yourself at home is super easy. We’ll walk you through exactly how you can make your own tallow balm and why you might want to!
Our Story – Why We Use Tallow
Ever since I was a young child, I remember being prone to skin issues. From cracked skin after spending time in the swimming pool to lathering Aquaphor on my face in the dry winter months. Dry skin has always plagued me.
Thankfully, after changing our diet to primarily real, whole foods and incorporating nutrient dense foods like liver, most of the skin issues that I’ve always had have been completely resolved. However, occasionally in the winter months when the air is dry, I can still get a bit of dry skin. These rare occurrences are what first introduced me to tallow balm.
I wanted to have something on hand, other than petroleum based Aquaphor, to help when dry skin patches appeared. That’s when I first learned of tallow for skin care. Soon after, I whipped up my first batch of tallow balm and was hooked. Now, almost all of our skin care products are tallow based like our tallow deodorant, magnesium lotion, and sunscreen.
What is Tallow Balm?
Tallow balm is a nourishing and natural skin moisturizer with the main ingredient being tallow or beef fat. Because tallow is a solid at room temperature, another liquid oil (we prefer olive oil) is added to the tallow to give tallow balm a texture better suited for easy application on skin. While it may sound funny to promote the wonders of applying beef fat to skin, tallow for skincare has actually been used throughout history.
Dating back to medieval times, the Romans and ancient Egyptians have used tallow as a miraculous agent of healing for skin. Whether used as a soap, balm, or lotion, tallow has long been touted for its ability to moisturize along with the potential for helping to heal other skin ailments like burns and scrapes.
Why Use Tallow Balm for Skin?
There are so many benefits to using tallow on the skin. After first trying it, we were so pleased with how it felt and what it did for our skin that we haven’t looked back.
Tallow has been used both internally and externally for hundreds of years and with good reason – its benefits are hard to beat!
- High in vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12
- Rich in minerals
- Contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) with natural anti-inflammatory properties
- Palmitoleic acid is a powerful antimicrobial agent that is also a basic building block of our skin
- Palmitic acid helps to improve the function of the skin’s protective barrier
- Stearic acid helps to repair damaged skin and improves the skins flexibility and suppleness
This list just begins to scratch the surface of the nourishing benefits that tallow balm offers for the skin. But, making it yourself can be intimidating, so let’s dive in!
How to Source Tallow?
The first question we get when we start talking about making tallow-based skin care products is how do you find tallow?
Our preference is always to work directly with a local farmer. Whether you are using the tallow in your cooking or skincare, quality makes a difference! Most of the toxins in an animal are stored in fat tissue. So, finding a clean, high-quality source of beef tallow is important!
Our preference is to always look for grass-fed cows on farms that follow regenerative practices. This helps to ensure that the tallow you are getting is not only going to be the best for you and your family but this is also best for the health of the animal and the planet as well.
Thankfully, more farms with regenerative practices are being established. So hopefully you know of one in your local area. If not, websites like localharvest.org provide a directory of farmers to help you get connected with someone in your area.
If a local farm isn’t an option, you should also be able to find tallow at a local butcher.
In our experience, because tallow is something that doesn’t typically fly off the shelves, it’s easy to source and at very reasonable prices.
How to Render Tallow to Make Tallow Balm
Once you pick up your tallow, the first step is rendering it down into a usable fat. Tallow normally comes as large chunks that you must melt down into a usable form. There are two methods for doing this: the dry and wet methods.
The dry method for rendering tallow is great and very straightforward. You can learn exactly how to render tallow this way in our post, Cooking with Lard and How to Render It Yourself, because the process of rendering lard and tallow is exactly the same. This method is great for rendering tallow to use in cooking but can still leave the tallow with a slightly beefy scent.
Because of this, when we are rendering tallow for use in skin care, we prefer the wet method. The wet method of rendering tallow is slightly more involved but it leaves you with a beautiful, odorless tallow. I’ve always followed this video to render tallow for making tallow balm.
How to Make Tallow Balm
After you’ve rendered your tallow down, the hard part is done. From there transforming your tallow into tallow balm is very easy. All you need is a small sauce pan, heat safe container, and a little bit of olive oil.
There are two different ways to make tallow balm: solid or whipped.
Solid Tallow Balm
Solid tallow balm is simply made by mixing melted tallow and olive oil. After they are mixed together, pour into an appropriately sized mason jar to store. In its solid form, tallow balm will store well for several months at room temperature. The final product is smooth and easy to apply with a fingertip. Because of the simplicity and longer storage of the solid version, that’s the method that we prefer.
Whipped Tallow Balm
To make the whipped version, you do exactly the same thing as you would in the solid version. However, after your tallow and olive oil are mixed, instead of pouring them into a jar to store, let them solidify in a mixing bowl. Once they have solidified, mix with an immersion blender to create a texture akin to whipped cream. The downside to whipped tallow balm is that it doesn’t store as well due to the infusion of air. But it does create a more luxurious texture that is very easy to apply.
Can You Make Scented Tallow Balm?
Yes! If you prefer to add essential oils, you can definitely do this. After you mix your melted tallow and olive oil together, add your essential oils. For adults a 1% dilution is recommended and if applying on babies, a .25% dilution is safer.
How do I Use Tallow Balm?
The beauty of tallow balm is that it is the perfect all-purpose moisturizer. It’s excellent for dry and cracked skin and can be applied to any part of the body including faces. Tallow balm is also my go-to for babies and diaper rash.
Tallow Balm Recipe
½ cup rendered tallow
2 tbsp olive oil
1. Measure ½ cup of tallow and put in the heat safe jar or glass measuring cup.
2. Fill a small saucepan partially with water and over low to medium heat, bring to heat with the container of tallow in the water.
3. Heat until the tallow is completely melted.
4. Remove from heat and stir in olive oil. Add essential oils if desired.
5. If making solid tallow balm, pour into a jar for storage. For whipped tallow balm, pour into a mixing bowl and let solidify. Once solid, mix with an immersion blender until a whipped cream consistency is achieved.
For more of our favorite tallow-based recipes, check out our:
- ½ cup rendered tallow
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Measure ½ cup of tallow and put in the heat safe jar or glass measuring cup.
- Fill a small saucepan partially with water and over low to medium heat, bring to heat with the container of tallow in the water.
- Heat until the tallow is completely melted.
- Remove from heat and stir in olive oil. Add essential oils if desired.
- If making solid tallow balm, pour into a jar for storage. For whipped tallow balm, pour into a mixing bowl and let solidify. Once solid, mix with an immersion blender until a whipped cream consistency is achieved.