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DIY Tallow Shampoo Bar (that actually works!)

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Are you in search of a natural shampoo that actually leaves your hair feeling clean, shiny, and smooth? After years of dealing with that exact scenario, I began making this tallow shampoo bar and it has been the perfect solution. With just a handful of ingredients, I’ll walk you through how you can make them yourself!

My Shampoo Story

It’s no secret that we are big fans of using tallow on our skin around here. Tallow balm, tallow-based sunscreen, and magnesium lotion are just a few of the ways. But when it came to shampoo, I was more skeptical.

For years, I had tried a wide array of natural shampoo options. From no poo, to baking soda and apple cider vinegar, to several expensive natural shampoo brands, my hair was never left feeling like the clean and shiny, smooth that I was going for.

A friend suggested that I try using a shampoo bar and bought me a Lush shampoo bar. Upon first use, I knew this was different than anything I had tried before (in a good way)! After using that shampoo bar for a month or so, I began wondering how I could make something similar myself. 

homemade tallow shampoo bar

That’s when I stumbled upon this recipe for tallow shampoo bars and gave them a go. After making a few tweaks to the recipe, it’s been four years and we still love and solely use these shampoo bars.

How to Make Tallow Shampoo Bars

While making shampoo bars, or any soap for that matter, may sound intimidating, the process is really quite simple with the right tools, ingredients, and following a few important safety procedures.

If you are getting started with soap making, there are a few necessary start up costs, like lye and a soap mold. But once you stock up on the needed ingredients and equipment, we’ve found they quickly pay for themselves in the amount of soap that can be made!

easy tallow shampoo bar recipe

Ingredients Needed:

Olive Oil

Anytime you are purchasing olive oil, it’s important to find a high-quality olive oil. We have a friend from Greece that has her own business selling olive oil from her family’s olive orchards. Her number one tip when buying olive oil is to look on the label and only buy olive oil that says it is from one country. Often, the label will list a few different countries, which she says is a red flag for potential adulteration or a less quality product.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is helpful to give these bars lots of lather that you want in a shampoo. We buy ours from Costco.

Tallow

Tallow is rendered beef fat (suet). High-quality, grass-fed tallow is ideal for maximum nutrients. We purchase our tallow from local farms or butchers. If you don’t know of a local farm in your area, check localharvest.org to find a farmer nearby. Sometimes you can find already rendered tallow. If not, purchase suet (beef fat) to render down to tallow yourself. The process is simple—it just takes some time. We follow this wet method for rendering to eliminate any beefy smell.

tallow shampoo bars ingredients

Castor Oil

Castor oil is high in ricinoleic acid and much anecdotal evidence sings the praises of using castor oil on hair. Look for castor oil in a dark glass jar for avoiding rancidity. We purchase this organic castor oil for making these shampoo bars. 

Lye

Soap is made by combining oils together into a hard bar. This process is called saponification, which requires and alkaline agent in order for the chemical reaction to take place. This is where lye comes in. Lye is used to saponify the oils to creating a firm bar of soap. We use this lye.

Essential Oils (optional)

There are a few specific essential oils that are known for being beneficial for hair. You can use whatever blend that you’d like. We typically use peppermint essential oil. Our favorite place to purchase quality essential oils is Plant Therapy.

tallow shampoo bars in soap mold

Equipment Needed:

Scale
Safety Goggles
Safety Gloves
Immersion blender (blender or food processor could work too)
Soap Mold
Soap Cutter

Tallow Shampoo Bar Recipe

Yield: 8 bars

Ingredients:

10 oz Olive Oil
10 oz Coconut Oil
10 oz Tallow
6 oz Castor Oil
13.7 oz water
5.1 oz lye
1 tbsp Essential oils (optional)

tallow shampoo bar gift idea

Directions:

1. Measure out all 4 of your oils and place in a medium saucepan.

wheighing tallow for shampoo bars

2. Melt olive oil, coconut oil, tallow, and castor oil over med-low heat until melted.

3. While the oils are melting, measure out water in a food grade plastic bucket or stainless-steel bowl (avoid glass because the heat produced in the lye reaction could cause cracks in the glass).

measuring water for lye solution

4. Measure out lye.

5. Once the oils are melted, allow to cool to 100°F. We like to put the saucepan in the fridge to speed this up.

6. While the oils are cooling mix lye solution. We always do this outside while wearing protective goggles and gloves. Slowly pour the lye into the water (never the water into the lye). Stir continuously with a stainless-steel spoon (not wooden). 

7. After the water/lye solution is gently but completely mixed, set aside for 10 minutes to cool.

8. Slowly pour the lye solution into the oils and blend with an immersion blender until a vanilla pudding consistency is formed. Don’t over blend.

9. Add in essential oils and briefly mix in.

10. Pour into soap mold. You can cover with wax paper and flat object on top if desired overnight.

pouring tallow shampoo bar into soap mold

11. 24 hours later, remove soap from the mold and slice into 8 bars. We do this by cutting in half, then cutting the halves into quarters, and finally into eighths. Set on a cookie rack with a towel over it for 4 weeks to cure before using. This will allow the soap to harden and be firm enough to use.

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Tallow Shampoo Bar Frequently Asking Questions:

How do shampoo bars work? 

Shampoo bars are essentially soap bars with specific formulas designed to benefit and clean hair. Once wet, they are activated and will create a lather to clean your hair and scalp. Only a few swipes of the shampoo bar are needed.

Is there a lather? 

Yes! This is one of my favorite parts about these shampoo bars. As opposed to many other natural options that do not produce a lather, these do and feel luxurious.

tallow shampoo bars curing on drying rack

Can I go from using standard shampoo to these shampoo bars? 

Commercial hair products use synthetic chemicals to help give hair its shine. However, over time these synthetic ingredients can build up on hair keeping hair from being able to absorb moisture and turning it dry and brittle. Before making the switch from a commercial shampoo to this tallow shampoo bar, a hair detox may be in order.

What about conditioner? 

Honestly, we’ve found that this tallow shampoo bar works great as both a shampoo and conditioner. However, I’ve talked to others who use this shampoo bar alongside an apple cider vinegar rinse or a homemade dry conditioner.

wrapping tallow shampoo far as gift

Can you use these shampoo bars for other things? 

Yes! Because this shampoo bar is essentially a concentrated soap, it makes a great body soap as well. I’m also experimenting with using it as a dish soap bar for a zero-waste dishwashing option.

Who are shampoo bars for?

These shampoo bars can really be a one-stop-shop for the whole family! Since we’ve started making them, Jim and our kids have started using them for shampoo and body wash.


What’s been your experience with natural shampoo options? Have you tried shampoo bars? We’d love hear what your experience has been! Let us know in the comments below.

diy tallow shampoo bar recipe

DIY Tallow Shampoo Bar

Yield: 8 bars
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Are you in search of a natural shampoo that actually leaves your hair feeling clean, shiny, and smooth? After years of dealing with that exact scenario, I began making this tallow shampoo bar and it has been the perfect solution. With just a handful of ingredients, I’ll walk you through how you can make them yourself!

Ingredients

  • 10 oz Olive Oil

  • 10 oz Coconut Oil

  • 10 oz Tallow
  • 
6 oz Castor Oil

  • 13.7 oz water
  • 
5.1 oz lye
  • 
1 tbsp Essential oils (optional)

Instructions

    1. Measure out all 4 of your oils and place in a medium saucepan.
    2. Melt olive oil, coconut oil, tallow, and castor oil over med-low heat until melted.
    3. While the oils are melting, measure out water in a food grade plastic bucket or stainless-steel bowl (avoid glass because the heat produced in the lye reaction could cause cracks in the glass).
    4. Measure out lye.
    5. Once the oils are melted, allow to cool to 100°F. We like to put the saucepan in the fridge to speed this up.
    6. While the oils are cooling mix lye solution. We always do this outside while wearing protective goggles and gloves. Slowly pour the lye into the water (never the water into the lye). Stir continuously with a stainless-steel spoon (not wooden).
    7. After the water/lye solution is gently but completely mixed, set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
    8. Slowly pour the lye solution into the oils and blend with an immersion blender until a vanilla pudding consistency is formed. Don’t over blend.
    9. Add in essential oils and briefly mix in.
    10. Pour into soap mold. You can cover with wax paper and flat object on top if desired overnight.
    11. 24 hours later, remove soap from the mold and slice into 8 bars. We do this by cutting in half, then cutting the halves into quarters, and finally into eighths. Set on a cookie rack with a towel over it for 4 weeks before using. This will allow the soap to harden and be firm enough to use.

Notes

Equipment Needed:
Scale

Safety Goggles

Safety Gloves

Immersion blender (blender or food processor could work too)

Soap Mold

Soap Cutter

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85 Comments

          1. I would like to try it before I invest in the supplies! I think it might be the castor oil solution for my hair and face issues.

      1. I would also love to purchase some shampoo and soap. I could pay for shipping and would love 4 bars and would take the ends as well.

        1. Hi! Thanks so much for your interest! We’d love to be able to ship but our little family just doesn’t have the capacity right now. I’d check on Etsy to see if there is a similar shampoo bar there.

      2. I’m sad to find out that you only sell locally. Here is a short story: Back in the mid 90’s I noticed a white film on my hair, being confused what it was because I just washed it so I washed it again and again and again and so on for about two I washed my hair a few times a day in the hottest water my scalp could stand than rinsed it in the coldest water I could stand to get rid of that residue. I quit using conditioner and very picky on the shampoo I use now and don’t use very much, I can’t stand the residue/taste on my face and lips that it leaves. So sense the mid 90’s I can rightfully say I have been looking for a good all around soap to use for everything I just don’t have the means to make it my self. Thank you and hopefully you will one day you will be able to expand.

        1. Oh wow! I’m so sorry for what you’ve been dealing with. That doesn’t sound fun at all! We’d love to be able to ship, unfortunately we don’t have the capacity right now. I’d check on Etsy for a shampoo bar with similar ingredients!

  1. I use bar shampoo now. I would like to make my own. I have very fine hair and find that some of the oils you are adding may make my hair oily and weighed down. Do you know of others who can speak to this who have used your shampoo?

    1. Hi there! My mom has very fine hair as well and she has been using this shampoo bar for years now with no issues and really enjoys it. My hair is thicker so I can’t speak to it personally but I don’t find that it makes my hair oily at all. I usually go one week between washes and don’t use any conditioner and it holds up really well! Hope this helps!

  2. I would love to try this but I am concerned about the oils clogging my shower drain. I’ve had trouble in the past with build up in the drain when using natural oils for hair treatments. Your thoughts? Do you have a place you can recommend for buying lye?

    1. We’ve been using it for years and we’ve never had issues with the oils clogging the drain. I believe this is because instead of straight oils, the saponification process of turning the oils into soap changes the product so it doesn’t have the same effect with clogging drains as the straight oils would. In the post, we link the lye we’ve purchased for this! Hope this helps!

      1. Hello, thank you for posting this recipe. I work with a heritage hog farmer so I’m super excited to be trying this recipe with lard instead of tallow.

        Do you know if the ratios of your recipe can be doubled or tripled, etc.?

  3. I make my own lye with wood ashes so it is already a liquid. Do you know how much I would need to use. I make it till it floats and egg so it is strong. I am thinking the 13.7 oz as that is the water amount?? thoughts?

    1. Oh, great question and that’s very cool! I’ve never experimented with making my own but I think keeping the same amount of water would make sense if you believe it’s similar strength. Let me know how it goes!

  4. I am currently in my first trimester with baby number 8. I have all the ingredients, and would love to give it a try, but i know castor oil is not great to use when u are prego. Have u used this shampoo bar while pregnant? And u did worry at all about the castor oil? I’m kind of guessing that u used it when u were pregnant, because u have a little on your back! Thanks for the recipe and info!

  5. Hello! We have a lot of lard on hand, which I’ve used to make soap with before, but I was wondering if you know if I could use lard instead of tallow in this recipe with the same ratios? Thank you so much!

  6. Hi! I am interested in making this recipe. It sounds amazing, and I’m trying to get rid of putting chemicals on and in my body, as much as possible. What size food grade bucket are you using? Thank you! Lori

  7. Thank you very much for sharing. I’m just starting soap making so I’ll definitely try this recipe. I have rendered suet for tallow so all set. Looking forward!

  8. As a girl growing up (50s & 60s) Grandmother taught me and my sisters to care for our very long hair by: once a week, wash with home made lye soap (she made) or Dove (back before the additives), vinegar to rinse, comb out starting at the bottom work your way up. Throughout the week brush with a natural bristle brush 100 strokes (this distributes your natural oils).
    Now a days when you ask a (Hair Specialist) about getting the natural healthy hair, they say it’s all product. They are never taught anything else. I would love to buy your product when you start mailing. Thank you

  9. I know that you are only selling your shampoo bars locally but what I’m wanting to do is try out the shampoo recipe before going all in and making several bars. Do you know of anyone else that would be willing to sell a bar just so I could see if it is what I’m really wanting. Thanks so much for all the information!

  10. Hi Joelle,
    Did you have batter left over once your mold was filled? The ingredients total almost 55 oz. so the recipe filled my 50 oz. mold plus 2 of those small pink silicon molds that say “100% Hand Made”. I can’t wait to try it out in a month or so.

    1. Hi! Good question! Ours always fills the mold perfectly but it’s very full. All the way to the top or even slightly over. Using the silicone cups is a great idea though for the extra! I hope you love the soap!

  11. Hello, thank you for your recipe.
    Can this be made as a liquid form by leaving out the lye and just putting it in a bottle instead?

    1. Hi! You’re welcome! I’ve never tried that but you’d have to only use select oils. The tallow and coconut oil are solid at room temperature so that wouldn’t work. I have heard of other having luck just using a drop of castor oil but I don’t have experience with this. Let me know if you find something that works well for you!

  12. I absolutely live your channel. I am trying to healthier in the product and foods in my life. I would love to purchase your lye soap. Thank you.

    1. Hi! Thank you so much for the encouragement! We aren’t currently shipping right now because of our families limited capacity but thank you so much for your interest!

    1. Hi! We are on a well with a water softener. I have noticed on the occasions when we forget to add salt or the softener doesn’t run for whatever reason that I can definitely tell a difference in how my hair feels that I don’t prefer.

  13. Hello from Indonesia! I absolutely love watching your videos on homesteading and DIY skincare. Your content is both informative and inspiring! Regarding the shampoo bar, I was wondering if it’s possible to substitute lye with baking soda?

    1. Hi there! Thank you for the kind words. Lye is essential in this recipe for the saponification reaction to occur and make soap. Lye is sodium hydroxide vs. baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Lye is caustic and not safe for consumption but in soapmaking, the saponification process makes it safe for using as soap. Baking soda is non-toxic and great for baking. I hope this helps!

  14. Dear Joelle,
    It seems like there are a lot of people who would like to buy your bars of soap and your answer is consistently that you don’t have the capacity to sell outside of your regular locals. Perhaps a solution to that could be to pay (in soap bars) one of your regular buyers to take your bars and mail them out for you, handling all of the marketing end of it. Just a thought.
    I really enjoyed watching you and your sweet baby. I’ve subscribed and am looking forward to seeing more of you.
    Cheri

    1. Hi Cheri! Thanks for the suggestion. Figuring out systems to mass produce our soap bars is the biggest thing keeping us from selling them right now. I definitely agree that having the right help would be essential! Thanks! 🙂

  15. Hi I made a mistake and thought I could just sub avocado oil for olive oil because it is what I had in my kitchen. I didn’t even consider the fat content is different between these oils and now it’s been 24 hours and I went to cut the bars and they are crumbly. Can they be saved some how or should I toss them and start fresh? I feel so dumb.

    1. Oh no! I’ve never experimented with making them with avocado oil but I totally hear where you are coming from because that’s my most common substitution for olive oil as well. In my experience, I’ve had issues with bars being a bit crumbly if I overmixed with the immersion blender. I definitely wouldn’t toss them but stay the course and see what happens. Maybe not ideal for giving as gifts but I’m guessing it should still make a lovely soap!

  16. Hi!I am wondering how much each bar costs, as it sounds really expensive to buy all of those ingredients. Could you give me an approximate cost for each bar? Thank you!

    1. Hi! We sell each bar (1/8 of the recipe) for $12 but only locally at this point. It is an investment to get all of the ingredients but once you get them, it’s easy to make multiple batches, which make great gifts! Thanks!

    1. Hi! Good question. Tallow is a solid at room temperature so it wouldn’t work as a liquid. I’m sure there are other recipes for liquid shampoos but I don’t have experience personally.

  17. You mentioned playing with it for dish soap, but have you also used it for laundry? Or do you have another process for that?
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi! Good question! I wouldn’t recommend this bar for laundry. I’m experimenting now with a recipe for dish soap and laundry soap is on my list too but I haven’t found something I love yet. We will definitely post something here when we do!

  18. Thank you so much for this recipe, so excited to try it. I need help though, converting the measurements to metric please? I cant tell when your recipes are referring to regular oz or fluid? Thank you!

  19. This is probably a silly question, but do you use the tallow shampoo bar as a body soap as well?

  20. Hello! I’m excited to make this recipe! I’m just wondering if there is any reason why I couldn’t sub goat milk for the water? Thanks!

  21. Hello, I used your recipe, and it is lovely. Thank you for sharing it with us. My sister is vegan, and she is interested in making bar shampoo with me. Do you have a substitute oil you could suggest to replace the tallow?

  22. Hi there. I just now made my 1st half batch of shampoo bars. I’m so excited about this and intend to make my own lotions too. I’m a sr with very dry eczema skin and everything out there sets me off. I got one bar from a boutique and it leaves me feeling gummy. Since I’m only making for myself and my daughter. How do I make a batch but add different fragrances. Ty for what you do, you’re amazing

    1. Hi! That’s awesome! I hope you really like this bar. To make different fragrances, I would use different essential oils. We love peppermint or my kids love the citrus flavors. Floral scents would be lovely too!

  23. Before I buy all this equipment, I would like to try the soap and see if it will work for me. Do you sell this product?

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