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How to Make Tallow Balm: A Simple & Natural Recipe

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Learn how to make a nourishing tallow balm using rendered beef fat from bone broth. This simple and natural recipe offers your skin deep moisturisation rich in essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins, making it versatile for various skin needs and conditions.

Ingredients for tallow balm: herbal infused oil, purified tallow, vitamin e oil and small tin

I’ve been getting my nesting on (currently 31 weeks pregnant as of writing) and making lots of bone broth as a star ingredient of my prenatal and postpartum nourishing soups, stews and slow cooker meals. This has meant I’ve been getting a lot of rendered tallow and lard as a byproduct. While I save these precious fats to use in cooking, I’ve recently had an overabundance and I can hear my granny telling me to not waste a drop!

I’ve had to work out some new ways to transform this byproduct into something useful. So I thought I’d try my hand at transforming my rendered beef fat into some nourishing tallow skincare products. To my delight, the process of purifying and then making tallow into a beautiful balm free of synthetic chemicals is incredibly simple and the balm is beautiful to use.

If you’ve done any research on tallow balm, you’ll notice they go for a hefty price of $30-50AUD for a 60ml jar. If you’re following a traditional foods way of eating and make beef bone broth on the regular, making your own tallow balm costs essentially nothing if you already have some quality oil in your pantry, a pure beeswax candle you can whittle a few grams from and some spare jars lying around.

Beef bone broth and rendered tallow

How I’ve Been Using My Homemade Tallow Balm

I’ve been using my homemade tallow balm for a month now, and I love the deep and intense moisturisation it offers, without feeling greasy or “clogged up”. As well as using it as a nourishing face cream, I’ve been using it as a hand cream, lip balm and treatment for soothing eczema patches (an annoying pregnancy symptom I get). I’ve also been applying it to my breasts and belly to prevent stretch marks. And I’ve also switched to using it for my toddler who still wears cloth nappies and gets a little bit of chaffing at this time of year.

I studied and practised naturopathy for 15 years, so I of course had to research the properties of tallow to get a sense of how I could use it in my homemade body products. And I must say, I’m impressed that this humble bone broth byproduct has got so much going on for it! If you like a bit of skincare science, I’ve whipped the essentials into a table for you.

Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef Tallow Balm for Skin Health

Healing PropertiesDescriptionSkincare Benefits
Deep MoisturizationNourishes the lipid layer of the skin, providing intense moisture useful for face and body.Helps retain skin’s natural moisture, reducing dryness and improving skin texture.
Rich in Fat-Soluble VitaminsHelps retain the skin’s natural moisture, reducing dryness and improving skin texture.Vitamin A promotes skin cell renewal, Vitamin D supports skin health, Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, and Vitamin K aids in skin healing.
Essential Fatty AcidsContains inflammatory CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), antimicrobial palmitoleic acid with properties, and strengthening palmitic acidCLA: Reduces redness and improves skin tone. Palmitoleic Acid: Exhibits antimicrobial effects, helping combat skin infections. Palmitic Acid: Strengthens the skin’s barrier, reducing moisture loss and improving the appearance of wrinkles.
Helpful for Skin ConditionsEffective for dry, irritated skin, eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis. Safe for baby’s skin.Soothes and calms irritated skin, providing relief for various skin conditions. Safe and gentle for sensitive baby skin.
Versatile Ingredient for SkincareServes as a nourishing base for balms, body butter, creams, lotions, and soaps.Enhances the efficacy of skincare products, providing a nourishing foundation for various formulations.

Tips for Making Tallow Balm

Sourcing Your Tallow

For the best-quality tallow, look for fat from grass-fed cows. If you’ve been making beef bone broth, you can use the naturally rendered fat from it. Keep in mind this fat is “trim fat” and won’t contain as much saturated fat as “leaf fat”, making it naturally a bit softer at room temperature. This recipe is for using trim fat, and the added beeswax will give the tallow the balm-like consistency we’re after.

Alternatively, you can ask your butcher for “leaf fat” (this is found around the internal organs of the cow) and have them grind it for you. Then you’ll need to render and purify it, but don’t worry, it’s a straightforward process. This is a wonderful tutorial from Marisa of Bumblebee Apothecary, who will guide you through the process.

If you prefer a simpler approach, you can also purchase already rendered and purified beef tallow from various sources in different countries.

Rendering & Purifying

Once you have the fat from your broth, you’ll want to render and purify it to achieve a white appearance and reduce any strong smells. This may require a couple of cycles of purifying to get it just right. I repeated the process twice with my rendered tallow. Again, make sure to follow Marisa’s guidance on this.

Making Your Tallow Balm

After you’ve rendered and purified the tallow, it’s time to turn it into a balm. Depending on the time of year, you may need to adjust the ratios of tallow, beeswax and oil since it can be more solid in cooler months and more runny in the summer. Think of this like making jam, you can use the cold plate trick to check your consistency along the way and tweak as needed.

Adding Plants to Your Balm

If you want to infuse your balm with additional healing properties, you can add plants to it! To do this, you can infuse your oil with dried herbs beforehand and use the infused oil in your balm. Additionally, you can include essential oils, but remember to dilute them properly – 1% for adults and 0.25% for babies and children.

Solid vs. Whipped Tallow Balm

There are two options for your tallow balm: solid and whipped.

Woman's hand holding tallow balm

Solid Tallow Balm

This version is smooth and feels like a salve. Simply melt the tallow, beeswax and your chosen oil together, mix them well, and then pour the mixture into an airtight glass jar. To cool it faster and prevent grittiness, I recommend putting it in the freezer until solid.

Whipped Tallow Balm

To make the whipped balm, prepare a larger quantity of your balm mixture. After blending the tallow, beeswax and extra virgin olive oil, let it solidify in the mixing bowl (again, cool in the freezer). Once it’s semi-solid and cool, use an immersion blender or hand mixer to whip it until it becomes creamy like whipped cream. Keep in mind that whipped balm won’t last as long as the solid version due to the air mixed in (which promotes oxidation), but it feels luxurious and is easier to apply.

Tallow Balm Recipe

The ratio I use is 4 parts tallow to 1 part oil to 1/2 part beeswax which works well in my climate at this time of year, and also for using tallow from broth.  If you live in a cold climate, and/or you’re using tallow from leaf fat (it has a higher percentage of saturated fats, making it more solid at room temperature) you will likely have more success with a 3 parts tallow to 1 part oil ratio.  For all my homemade skincare products, I prefer to make small batches at a time to reduce the likelihood of them spoiling.

Ingredients

  • 40g rendered and purified grass-fed tallow
  • 10ml organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5g organic beeswax
  • 1ml vitamin E oil (optional: this will extend the life of your tallow balm by preventing oxidation, especially useful if you’re going to whip your balm)

Instructions

Melt your tallow and beeswax in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of boiling water. I use a bottle warmer which works a treat!

Bottle warmer used to melt tallow balm ingredients

Once the tallow and beeswax have melted, add olive oil and vitamin E oil to the mixture.

Tallow balm melting

Stir the ingredients together until they are well combined and reach a smooth consistency.

Once done, remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. If you want to add essential oils, this is the time to do it. Pour the mixture into your amber glass jar or tin and allow the mixture to cool completely in the freezer.

Pouring liquid tallow balm mix into small tin container

Store your tallow balm in a cool, dark spot

Homemade Tallow Balm Usage Tips

  1. All-Purpose Moisturizer: Your tallow balm can become your go-to moisturizer for various skin needs. It’s gentle and nourishing, suitable for many skin types.
  2. A Little Goes a Long Way: Remember, less is more with this balm. Start with a small amount and apply it to your skin. You’ll find that a little dab can cover a significant area thanks to its silky consistency.
  3. Long-Lasting Recipe: This lovely recipe will last you a long time with daily use, so you’ll be able to enjoy it for quite a while.
  4. Proper Storage: To keep your tallow balm well preserved, store it in a cool, dry place. This will help prevent it from melting and maintain its smooth texture.
  5. Pairing with Hyaluronic Acid: If you ever encounter dry, dehydrated skin, try using a hyaluronic acid-based hydrating toner or essence before applying the tallow balm. The hyaluronic acid will help draw moisture into your skin cells, and the tallow balm will nourish your skin’s oil component, together offering an effective duo for very dry skin. (This has been working a treat for me!).

Customizing Your Tallow Balm with Herbals and Essential Oils

One of the joys of making your own skincare products is the ability to customize them with the goodness of herbs and essential oils. Here are some options you may like to consider:

Choice of Oils

While extra virgin olive oil is a stable and consistent option, you can explore other oils that resonate with you. Some excellent choices include Argan oil, Apricot oil, Jojoba oil, Almond oil, Sesame oil, and Coconut oil.

Infusing Herbs

Herbs can add wonderful skin-healing properties to your tallow balm. You can infuse your chosen oil with herbs like Calendula, Comfrey, Plantain, and Chickweed. The infusion process involves gently heating the oil and adding the dried herbs, then allowing them to steep for some time. Strain the oil afterwards, and you have a herb-infused oil ready to use in your balm.

Essential Oils

Adding essential oils not only imparts a delightful scent but also brings additional antioxidant benefits, which help preserve your tallow balm. Some lovely essential oils to consider are Lavender, Geranium, Rose geranium, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Frankincense (make sure it’s sourced ethically), Tea tree, Rose, and Chamomile.

Blending Essential Oils

You can create your signature scents by blending different essential oils. Here are a couple of delightful combinations to get you started: Lavender, Geranium, and Vetiver, or Lavender and Chamomile, or Rose and Sandalwood.

Liquid tallow balm setting in small tin

Homemade Tallow Balm FAQ

How do you eliminate the meaty smell when rendering tallow?

It’s not uncommon for tallow to have a meaty smell after rendering. To remove this odour, we can purify the tallow. The method I use involves gently heating the tallow with salted water. The salted water will draw out the impurities, leaving you with virtually odourless tallow. After heating, strain the tallow through cheesecloth and allow it to cool completely. You may need to repeat this process until the water is completely clear and the tallow turns white or close to it. For detailed instructions, you can visit this link.

How do we get lovely, fluffy whipped tallow balm?

To achieve that beautiful, fluffy texture in your tallow balm, it’s best to work with chilled tallow. Let it cool down enough so that it’s not rock-hard but still nice and cool. This will make the whipping process easier and more effective.

My tallow is a little “gritty.” Why is that, and how can I make it smooth?

If you find that your tallow has a gritty texture, it’s likely due to the fat molecules separating out during slow cooling. To avoid this, you can solidify the tallow quickly in a deep freezer. Rapid cooling helps prevent the formation of those grit-like particles. Alternatively, you can use leaf fat, which is harder and less prone to setting with a gritty texture. You can ask your butcher for leaf fat, and it should yield smoother tallow.

My tallow balm is staying pretty runny. What can I do to fix it?

The ratio of ingredients used in your tallow balm can affect its consistency, especially in different climates. In a cool-temperate area like mine, a ratio of 3 parts tallow to 1 part oil to 1/2 part beeswax works well. However, if you’re in a warm climate or during the summer, you may need to adjust the ratio to 4 parts tallow to 1 part oil for a more stable balm. In hot and tropical climates, you could try using a 5:1 ratio to achieve the right consistency.

Is it necessary to use amber glass for storage? Does using clear glass decrease shelf life?

While amber glass jars add an extra layer of protection by shielding the balm from light exposure, storing your tallow balm in a cool, dark spot can help maintain its quality. Clear glass can still be used as long as you keep the balm away from direct sunlight and high temperatures.

Woman's hand holding tallow balm

Homemade Tallow Balm

Yield: 60ml/2oz
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Transforming rendered beef fat into a soothing tallow balm is a simple process. With grass-fed tallow and a few pantry ingredients, crafting your own luxurious balm costs next to nothing.

Ingredients

  • 40g rendered and purified grass-fed tallow
  • 10ml organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5g organic beeswax
  • 1ml vitamin E oil (optional: this will extend the life of your tallow balm by preventing oxidation, especially useful if you’re going to whip your balm)

Instructions

  1. Melt your tallow and beeswax in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of boiling water. I use a bottle warmer which works a treat!
  1. Once the tallow and beeswax have melted, add the olive oil and vitamin E oil to the mixture
  2. Stir the ingredients together until they are well combined and reach a smooth consistency.
  3. Once done, remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. If you want to add essential oils, this is the time to do it.
  4. Pour the mixture into your amber glass jar and allow the mixture to cool completely in the freezer.
  5. Store your tallow balm in a cool, dark spot.

Notes

Homemade Tallow Balm Usage Tips

  • All-Purpose Moisturizer: Your tallow balm can become be your go-to moisturizer for various skin needs. It's gentle and nourishing, suitable for many skin types.
  • A Little Goes a Long Way: Remember, less is more with this balm. Start with a small amount and apply it to your skin. You'll find that a little dab can cover a significant area thanks to its silky consistency.
  • Proper Storage: To keep your tallow balm well preserved, store it in a cool, dry place. This will help prevent it from melting and maintain its smooth texture.
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