Homemade Tallow Balm
I’ve been using purchased or homemade tallow balm exclusively for over a year now, and my skin is absolutely loving it. In recent months I’ve learned to make homemade tallow balm that is whipped, and it is even more luxurious.
One of the core tenets of the GAPS™ Protocol is detoxification, including the “detoxing” of what we put on our bodies via skincare, body care, & household toxins.
Your skin is your body’s biggest organ (also our biggest detox organ), and it’s designed to absorb.
Meaning that the chemical-laden lotions and cleansers you put on it don’t just affect your skin. The Gut-Brain-Skin axis means that all the nasty alcohols, industrial lubricants, fragrances, and preservatives in most conventional skincare get a direct line to your brain and your gut microbiome.
A.K.A. the two systems that control everything in your body.
I’m not big on exposing my brain to the same chemicals they use in antifreeze, or my gut to the same elements of paint stripper.
“But what about natural oils?!” I hear you ask. “Surely those are better than all those chemical products?”
Well … yes and no.
If you can get pure oils that are manufactured in a way that doesn’t destroy all the inherent qualities that make them good — and that’s more challenging than it should be — you’ve still got a problem.
You’re a human. Not a plant.
This means that the moisturizing components in plants aren’t a perfect fit for your body, and can’t be as effective as you want them to be.
If you want truly healthy, deeply nourished skin, you need skincare that’s designed to work with your skin, not against it.
And for that, you can’t do better than a premium beef tallow moisturizer.
Before you let the ick-factor carry you away, hang with me for a minute.
Why use tallow balm?
Organic, grass-fed beef tallow is one of the most nutrient-dense, effective, and versatile skincare options on the planet. We’ve known this, intuitively, as a species for at least 20,000 years.
And we now have the science to back it up — research shows that beef tallow is absolutely packed with all the nutrients your skin needs to be astonishingly healthy, including vitamin E, CLA, omega-3s, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamins D and K, stearic and oleic acids, and a whole bunch more.
My farm share has been offering plenty of grass-fed tallow. After being so happy with the results from the two companies I’ve purchased from (see sources below) I decided to try my hand at making it myself and was so surprised by how easy it was!
Tallow balm uses
- All-over body moisturizer
- Facial moisturizer
- Eczema cream
- Diaper rash ointment (only use KidSafe blends or pure tallow balm)
- Monthly hair treatment
What you’ll need to make homemade whipped tallow balm
- 1 cup grass-fed beef tallow
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (optional, I did my last batch without the olive oil)
- 50 drops essential oil of choice (approximately 1% dilution, see my favorite options below)
If I don’t want to make it myself, where can I buy it?
Here are two of my favorite brands:
My favorite essential oil blends
For adults & general body use:
- Rocky Mountain Oils Skin Care Blend
- Rocky Mountain Oils Baby Skin Blend
- Rocky Mountain Oils Jasmine or Love Blend (for a more sensual or romantic twist)
For children & sensitive skin:
- Plant Therapy KidSafe Silky Soft Blend
- Plant Therapy KidSafe Singles
Easy Homemade Whipped Tallow Balm
Leave unwhipped for simple tallow balm, or blend with a handheld or stand mixer for whipped tallow balm.
- 1 cup grass-fed beef tallow
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- 50 drops favorite essential oil blend/single (for approx 1% dilution)
- Gently melt tallow in a small saucepan over low heat
- Remove from heat & allow to cool for about 30-60 minutes (let cool to room temp & slightly solidify for whipped tallow balm)
- Add optional olive oil & essential oil drops of choice
- Blend by hand for tallow balm, or whip until white & fluffy for whipped tallow balm
- Store in glass jars at room temperature
27 thoughts on “Easy Homemade Whipped Tallow Balm”
And then what? Do you use this on your face — at night? Daytime, under makeup? I have plenty of tallow from making beef bone broth, but can’t imagine it would feel good on my face. And does it stain clothing?
Great question. I use tallow balm from head to toe, at any time of day. I apply it after freshly washing my face with just warm water & a washcloth, and I use it all over my body after showers & baths. I haven’t had any issue with it staining my clothes, personally.
You say olive oil twice, but in the main ingredients list it says cod liver oil. Typo?
Yes. That was a typo. Thanks for catching that.
Could you make this with another kind of quality fat, like lard?
Good question. The short answer is, I’m not sure. I’ve only ever used tallow as an animal-sourced moisturizer myself. Let me know if you try it!
Hello – how much does this make?
Good question! If you do not whip the balm it will make about 1 1/4 cups of balm. I haven’t measured the increase in volume exactly with the whipping when I have made it, but I am guessing it would be about 25%. The recipe makes plenty, since a small amount of the balm goes a long way! You can also use the unwhipped version as a lip balm.
Honest Body Assistant
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When you say you did your last batch without the olive oil – did you just leave it out and everything was done the same?
Thanks so much for this recipe!
There are three ways to make it, depending on the texture you would like.
1) If you melt the tallow and add the essential oil in without whipping, then allow to harden, it makes a more solid balm that is good for lip balm.
2) If you whip it, it lightens up and makes it more creamy and smooth like lotion.
3) If you whip it, and add the olive oil, it will be an even lighter lotion texture.
What I usually do is: 1) melt the tallow, 2) take a small amount and add the essential oils + a bit of beeswax for lip balm and pour a little bit of that into a small container, 3) transfer the rest of the melted tallow into a stand mixer, add different essential oils for skin, as well as the olive oil, and whip so that I have lotion/cream to use on face and body.
Hope you enjoy!
Honest Body Assistant
I have some tallow from highlander cattle rigt from breeder.
When i try to melt it is with many tendons, that stick together, it wont really melt.
Do I do something wrong?
Kirsten Kingo Lundin
Thank you for your question! That’s great you have a good source of suet from a farm! Rendering tallow, especially if you are trying to get a good yield and a pure cosmetic grade product, can be a time consuming process. But it is worth it!
There are two kinds of suet (cow fat that hasn’t been rendered yet) you will get from cows, leaf fat (the fat around the kidneys) and fat from trimming other areas. The leaf fat is the least “meaty” tasting and produces the purest white tallow- ideal for cosmetic use. The other trimmings make great cooking grade tallow, but you could try purifying them and see if they smell suitable for cream. When I make tallow from my cow that I get from my rancher, I make a batch of cosmetic grade tallow as well as jars of cooking tallow.
The leaf fat has a cellophane like net of fascia that holds it together, not many tendons or veins or other connective tissue. The best way to deal with that is: work with the fat while cold (either frozen or refrigerated), trim any veins or meaty bits off. Cut the suet into chunks, and try peeling as much of the fascia/cellophane stuff off the fat as you can. Don’t worry about it if you can’t get it all. Then, cut the suet into medium sized chunks and put them in your food processor. Process the suet until it makes pea sized or smaller bits of fat. Then render the fat into tallow using either the wet or dry method.
Just as there are two kinds of suet, there are also two ways to render the tallow, dry and wet. The dry render just uses low heat to melt the tallow and then strains out the solids. Here is a good page that describes this process: https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2012/02/how-to-render-beef-tallow.html.
The wet render uses water with salt to further purify the tallow and keep it from getting too hot. This is the method I use for cosmetic tallow because it results in the pure, white, practically odor- free tallow, especially if you do it more than one time around. Here is the resource I used to figure this process out: https://bumblebeeapothecary.com/how-to-render-and-purify-tallow-so-that-it-is-odorless-and-white/. Though she doesn’t use a food processor- I have found it is best to process the pieces first because it gives the most yield.
So, I use the leaf fat and do a wet render for cosmetic tallow. Trim off any meat, blood, blood vessels, etc., first. Put those, plus all the other suet trimmings that are more “meaty”, in a pot to do dry render to use for cooking and frying.
Since you’ve already tried to melt the fat, just freeze it again and then start the process as I describe above.
The “cracklins” are the bits that don’t melt that you strain out at the end of the process. They are good to eat with a bit of salt on their own or in salads, you can fry them a bit more in a skillet if they aren’t crispy enough 😉
Hope this helps!
Deanna, Honest Body Assistant
I made some balm and well…it smells beefy. Is there an essential oil or combo of oils that help with that?
Thanks for your question! I’ve had that problem before myself. It took a few times making the balm before I perfected it.
Unfortunately, it has more to do with how the tallow was rendered than it does with what essential oils you use, although I have found rose geranium essential oil to be a nice addition that is strong enough to mask a subtle beefy smell. It’s good for the skin, and I like the floral, peppery scent!
See my response to Kristen below in this post for the proper way to render tallow for cosmetic use so that it will not smell beefy. I recommend the wet method described there for the most pure, white, practically odorless tallow. The more times it is wet rendered, the less it will smell.
Don’t give up- it’s worth it once you get the final product!
How long will this keep? im guessing at least a year since rendered tallow can generally be kept a full year unrefrigerated, but would like your thoughts.
Mine has kept for a year once made, though I imagine it depends on the essential oils used (some may be more preservative than others). Tallow can go rancid unrefrigerated, however (and mine did within 1 year unfortunately and now has a mild soapy smell, so I still intend to use it for cosmetics but not cooking. Our pantry is too warm with the wood stove going all winter.) Perhaps the safest thing to do would be to refrigerate creams that you don’t intend on using within the next 3 months or so.
Deanna HB Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach
Wow, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I’ve just started this journey to natural health within the last few years, and I’ve been learning so much. I’ve been on the lookout for better beauty products, and I’m so glad I came across this!
I’m excited to try it, but can you tell me how long the shelf life is?
Thank you so much!
I’m so glad to hear that you found this helpful! You might also like our article on body care and household products: https://honestbody.com/body-care-and-household-products/
As I described in response to Holly’s comment, my cream has kept just fine for a year, but I imagine it depends on the essential oils used. Keep it in a cool, dry place, or perhaps the safest would be to refrigerate cream you don’t intend to use within 3 months or so. As it gets older the “whipped” quality is reduced and it becomes a thicker cream. A little does go a long way, but if you start with a nice quality tallow with no meaty smell, it makes a great gift:)
Deanna HB Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach
Can’t wait to try this. Is there a place I can order tallow that has been rendered correctly (no beef smell)?
Thanks for your question! Though I do recommend Fatworks or Millers Organic farm for tallow to eat, I don’t have a specific one for cosmetic purposes. You could try ordering from them and see how it smells. It would be much easier to purify their rendered tallow using the water and salt method here on bumblebee apothecary than doing it from scratch: https://bumblebeeapothecary.com/how-to-render-and-purify-tallow-so-that-it-is-odorless-and-white/.
I did see some on Etsy, you could try that. Here is the brand of skin care products Melanie likes that already have tallow as an ingredient if you prefer to go that route: https://primallypure.com/blogs/blog/beef-tallow-what-it-is-and-why-your-skin-needs-it.
Let us know if you do find a source that works for you!
Certified GAPS Coach and HB Assistant
Hello. When you say 27 drop of essential oil- is that in total or per essential oil? So for example I am using tallow, emu oil and then rose Otto, blue tansy and chamomile- is it 27 drops in total or 27 drops of each? also if I want to add butters or mukuna honey- how do I figure out how much to put?
The recipe calls for 50 drops of essential oils total, so that could be a single oil, blend, or combination of your choice (for example, 10 drops frankincense, 20 drops lavender, 20 drops rose geranium). This gives a 1% dilution ratio of the base to the oils. If adding other butters or honey to the base, I would double the volume of the base, then you could double the essential oils for the same dilution ratio.
HB Assistant and Certified GAPS Coach
Yes! Finaⅼly something about balm.
So glad it was useful!
Certified GAPS Coach and HB Assistant
I don’t have a question but wanted to tell you I really appreciate all the answers you have given to questions you receive!
You are excellent in communication and keep your answers short and to the point. Very easy to understand~ As soon as I purchase my tallow I’m very excited to use your recipe. I know it’s going to work!
Glad I found you~
Thank you so much for letting us know! We are glad you found us too:)
Certified GAPS Coach and Honest Body Assistant