The theory of planning beforehand is not new for preppers or those wanting to insure a better chance of survival by being prepared. There are many substances with a multitude of uses, but tallow is such an all-purpose liquid gold, we had to explore it a bit more in-depth.
Tallow is traditionally considered beef fat or mutton fat, but actually, it is any rendered fat that meets the criteria of a high melting point compared to lard or suet (suet is the fat surrounding the kidneys, FIY). Using everything from the animal, nose to tail is smart survival.
Tallow is considered a by-product of animals in modern times, but many people in history traditionally used tallow in almost every aspect of daily life as a matter of survival as it was widely available: like primitive cultures, the colonists, settlers, and pioneers.
The best tallow comes from naturally grazing animals and is rendered from suet, which is the fat that surrounds an animal’s organs. Suet is used in the bird feeders we see commercially.
When heat is applied, the suet turns into liquid gold oil. After it is strained, it is purified by washing it in boiling water and filtered again. For more applications, it will need to be triple-filtered to get out all impurities. Once filtered, it can be used in a variety of ways.
We found 41 good ones that can be applied to self-sufficient living, using only healthy organic materials, and survival practices.
There are many reasons to use tallow as it’s easy to render, and being able to collect and render it into useful items is a valuable skill to have.
Reasons Why You Should Use It
- ✅ It is packed full of Vitamins A, D, E, and K (particularly tallow coming from grass-fed beef) – in winter months this can be crucial to have
- ✅ It’s a very good source of conjugated linoleic acid
- ✅ It allows high triglycerides for easy absorption of minerals and nutrients
- ✅ It is a high-energy food
- ✅ It doesn’t generate free radicals when it’s cooked
- ✅ It has a high smoking point
- ✅ It has a long shelf life, shelf-stable at room temp.
- ✅ It doesn’t need to be refrigerated
- ✅ It is a good source of unprocessed, animal fat
- ✅ It is a good flavoring
- ✅ It is a good source of amino acids
- ✅ It is made up is much like our cell structures, that’s why it’s so good for skin care and used in skin products as its biocompatible
- ✅ It is inexpensive
All of the Possible Ways to Use Tallow
Tallow is used in cooking and deep frying all sorts of dishes thanks to its high melting point and high smoke point.
It can take your country-fried steak, fried chicken, and even your French fries to the next level. Like most frying oils, you can filter or strain tallow through a cheesecloth, coffee filter, strainer, or sieve to reuse it assuming you don’t burn it.
As a Topping
Tallow is a healthy butter substitute when cooking. It sounds strange to those of us who have never done so, but if you were on a strict keto or carnivore diet plan, melted tallow can add calories, richness, and flavor to baked potatoes and other foods while adhering to your dietary requirements.
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
As a Pemmican or Sausage Ingredient
When making traditional pemmican or sausage, tallow does double duty as a binder and a much-needed source of calories.
You’ll always have to take care when handling and storing it to prevent it from going rancid, but the process is well understood and with just a little bit of practice you’ll soon be making pemmican and sausage that will taste great and store for a long time thanks to tallow.
Tallow can be used in pastries and can replace vegetable oil in any recipe. Tallow used to be a mainstay in all sorts of recipes when baking, from pie crusts to cookies, turnovers, and more.
You might need to adjust the ratios a little bit compared to vegetable oil, but it works wonderfully and will lend your baked goods a perfect crispy crust that is not too hard.
It only makes sense that tallow would be just the thing to keep leather soft, supple, and crack-free. Leather is made from skin, and tallow also comes from animals, maybe even the same animal that your leather is made from! Rub it in with a clean cloth, wipe off the excess, and then buff it to a luster with a fresh, soft cloth.
It can be used as flux to solder. A strange, but practical trick! if you were out of flux and have soldering to do, use a dollop of tallow instead. You’ll definitely be able to smell the difference, but it will work normally.
Tallow can alleviate poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, or chickenpox itch. All sorts of irritating agents found in nature can be combated with a light application of tallow.
This will help to soothe the skin and promote an effective response from your body. For large outbreaks consider using a bandage to cover the affected area and keep the tallow moist for longer.
Believe it or not, tallow has been proven to have its own special antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. This means it is effective for combating a variety of infectious germs, bacterial, fungal and otherwise.
If you are dealing with stuck parts that should be moving, but aren’t tallow might be able to save the day if you lack other kinds of lubrication.
If it is an application that calls for grease, you are in luck since you can just smear room temperature tallow on the parts as you would any other grease before replacing them. Run the action a few times and they should be moving sure and slick!
It doesn’t really compare to modern synthetic oils, but in a pinch, you can use tallow as an all-natural, biodegradable motor oil.
You definitely don’t want to be going across the country when using tallow for this purpose, but it could make the difference between risking it and blowing your engine or staying stuck and stranded where you are.
For Dry and Irritated Skin
A soft sheen of tallow (tallow balm) is good for any skin that is simply dry, irritated or battered from the cold. Tallow will protect skin and can potentially help to improve circulation to the area. All you need to do is massage it onto the skin and then lightly cover it if necessary.
To Make Fuel
Tallow can replace plants in biodiesel fuel. Like many kinds of fat, tallow can be used as a primary ingredient in the production of biodiesel fuel. If you are leveraging this technology as part of your own preparations, tallow can be yet another component in your personal supply chain.
If you are reusing tallow for cooking and frying or any other purpose, converting it to biodiesel might be the last stop for it. At least you are really getting your money’s worth!
For Starching Clothes
Another use that your great grandparents were probably already very familiar with, tallow can be used to starch and condition clothing when ironing, and to help de-frizz sweaters and similar items.
Tallow is a powerhouse in the cosmetics industry, long used for the production of makeup, makeup remover and as a nightly facial cream. You can use it for the same things with a little bit of know-how, and at the very least can save you a bundle on makeup remover.
Aside from directly helping damaged or irritated skin, tallow is thick enough and has enough viscosity to physically protect the skin from wind burn. That is always a problem in cold, blustery environments, so it’s nice to know you can rely on tallow to give your skin a shield against winter’s sting.
For various other skin rashes, irritations, and all those other aggravations that can cause us to break out and feel the burn, tallow can help put an end to it. It is perfect for treating and preventing chafing for athletes and can help soothe pre-existing conditions.
Tallow has all sorts of uses when it’s shaving. It is a good mustache wax and organic shave cream. It serves as a buffer for the razor against the skin while reducing friction and hydrating hair to help it stand up and cut more easily, providing for a closer shave with less irritation.
Tallow can be used on most metals that you want to protect from rusting. This is because tallow not only drives out moisture but prevents moisture from reaching the surface of the metal.
You can take a small dollop or block of solidified tallow and thoroughly work it into the area that you want to protect. Then be confident it will stay rust-free for a time.
Tallow can help save you from sunburn in two ways. First, it will reduce the pain of a sunburn and it will also help to prevent the cracking and peeling that invariably follows a bad one. have fun in the sun and don’t worry too much about the consequences as long as you have tallow to use.
Nail and Hair Care
Tallow can promote growth and health in hair and nails alike. It can reduce the appearance of cuticles and hangnails around fingernails and toenails, and will also help keep hair from fraying while promoting a glossy, healthy appearance.
As Diaper Cream
Just like on our own skin, tallow can help tame irritation on the super delicate skin of babies. By reducing irritation and eliminating germs and other grizzlies that promote it, tallow can help keep your baby happy and healthy.
Tallow serves as an ingredient in a homemade, but highly effective, delousing agent when mixed with apple cider vinegar.
Combine the two ingredients until a heavy lotion is made and then spend time really massaging and working it into the affected area. Leave it to work for a while, then rinse and repeat periodically until the lice have disappeared.
Another homemade recipe for something we use regularly, tallow combined with baking soda makes for an effective and silky smooth deodorant. If you are forced to make your own for any reason you can do a lot worse and it sure beats going all natural!
It is good for insect bites as it coats the skin and soothes the bite site. All sorts of insect bites and stings can be soothed using tallow. A small pinpoint application will help promote circulation, reduce pain, and heal the skin at the bite or sting site.
Aside from alleviating sunburn and preventing cracking and peeling as described above, tallow also shows effectiveness as a sunblock. It won’t let you stay out in blazing, high noon Sunshine for hours without consequence, but it definitely increases the time you can spend in the sun before you start to burn.
As Pet Food
Tallow is a great food supplement for pets. You probably don’t need me to tell you that dogs and cats alike love beef and beef products. You can definitely give them what they want with tallow, mixing in just a little bit to their usual food to fortify it and improve the taste. They’ll thank you for it!
Seasoning Iron Cookware
Tallow is good for seasoning a cast iron skillet. Everyone has their own ideas when it comes to properly seasoning cast iron, but it is very difficult to argue against the efficacy and durability of the seasoning that results from using real animal fats, including tallow.
“Waxing” Gear and Footwear
It is good for waterproofing almost anything – fabric, shoes, tents, tools, etc. Chances are your ancestors used tallow to waterproof their tools and other outdoor gear, from their boots to canvas coats.
You can do the same thing today, and it works wonderfully on fabrics that already have a degree of weather resistance. Make sure you massage it in very thoroughly, and then scrape off or wipe off any excess to prevent a mess.
As Patch Lube
Tallow mixes are still used as a projectile lubricant in present-day black powder guns. Anyone who uses a modern or traditional muzzleloader knows that choosing the right patch and bowl lubricant is imperative for easy loading and good performance. Tallow can do the job, and better than many modern products sold for the purpose.
Tallow is just the ticket for giving your woodworking an extra edge and preventing breakages and blowouts.
Tallow can help to condition wood, but it also makes a good lubricant on your fasteners, namely screws, since it can prevent rusting as described above and also reduce friction, potentially keeping the wood from blowing out or splitting.
Blisters are a product of friction, and tallow can help to prevent friction by eliminating hot spots. Apply a generous coat of tallow to the area at the first sign of a hotspot and you can probably stave off a blister. If a blister does occur, it can help to condition and protect the area.
To make a natural version of hair shampoo and conditioner bar. Like many other cosmetics, skin care products, and other health-related items on this list, tallow can once again serve as a wonderful ingredient in shampoo. It is a great binder for other ingredients, and it will help the health of your hair.
Increasing the amount of real tallow in your diet has been shown to improve sleep quality. It can help you sleep by providing the fats and amino acids your brain and body needs
Mix tallow with natural plant matter to dye it in earth-tone shades to make a natural camo and body paint. All paints have various ingredients, and tallow once again serves as a binder, or medium, and also helps to give the resulting paint a flat or satin shade that will improve its efficacy when used for camouflage.
You can use tallow to protect all sorts of fasteners, screws, nails, nuts, bolts, clasps, latches, and more. It will help prevent rust and prolong the life of your fastener and in the case of latches, hasps, and the like can keep them from sticking or freezing from disuse or while in storage.
Dip small metal fittings like nuts, bolts, and screws into tallow before storing them away to help protect them from rusting.
By now you might think that tallow is only just short of miraculous, but the benefits don’t stop. High-quality tallow has been shown to have significant antioxidant benefits.
Tallow even has a role to play when you are making your own candles. Treat candle wicks with a thin coating of tallow to help protect them from moisture – and also to help them catch more quickly and burn longer.
This will improve performance and ease of use, particularly if the candles have been in storage for a while.
You can also make small candles that burn a few hours and are easy to store with your tallow scraps. To make large candles that burn for quite a while, you can mix it with beeswax or soy or lard, or just straight tallow.
Use small bottle caps or lids to make these small candles, but a glass container will work even better.
Just pour melted tallow into your container and add a cotton wick. It is that simple! I added a few drops of saffron to give it a nice scent.
Another great use for tallow in recipes. To make a bone broth filled with nutrients that can be eaten as a soup or used as a soup base. No matter what kind of soup you use it for, it will greatly improve taste and give soup a velvety mouthfeel.
Making Fire Starters
Tallow can help make the most of any kind of tinder or kindling. Rub fire-starters or kindling with tallow to help them catch more quickly and burn longer. This is especially a good idea when putting together your own DIY fire-starting kit or using natural materials only.
There’s another way to use tallow when building a fire… You can make these “tallow balls” wrapped in cotton that can help start a fire and keep it going for 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of the balls):
To make these, simply cut a few pieces of cotton from any old rag, then add the tallow in the middle, and wrap each ball:
Since tallow burns pretty slowly, it’ll be a lifesaver if the wood you’re trying to burn is damp…
Tallow isn’t just used for practical purposes. Rendered tallow can be used as a medium for paint suitable for use in fine art.
If you want to cut down on your expenses for your hobby, or just want to try your hand at making your own art supplies, tallow can do the job. For me personally, that’s something I would use for my survival!
For Making Soap
We have been using more and more beef and deer tallow in cooking, instead of lard, due to all the DDED health benefits it has.
For tallow soap, it’s a basic mixture of lye, scent, and tallow. Also, any scents you want to add to it. You can supplement with milk and other oils such as coconut oil,, herbs, etc depending on its use.
Find the shape of the soap you wish to make and have a form for that shape.
Here I am demonstrating with a small cup I added scent to. Melt your tallow pieces you have, this can be prior soap you made, and want to reuse the scraps:
Then pour the melted tallow into the shape. On bigger forms they have a garbage bag or slick parchment paper for easy removal of the soap loaf. If making a loaf, you can cut it with a wire when it cools.
In these examples, I have natural tallow and goat milk soap for moisturizing, and the brown soap pictured below has coffee grounds added to it for a sweet smell and added scrubbing texture for a wake-up revitalizing soap, and the orange is mango, fruit and citrus scents.
A simple DIY rendering of tallow is harvesting your meat and grinding the fat so it’s easy to melt. To render it, just boil the hard fat after grinding. Once it cools, remove the white portion. That’s basic tallow.
We saved a bunch of scraps, and cut them into chunks for melting:
To use it for lubricants or lotions, you need to strain it a few times. But this simple method is great for just getting big basic chunks for cooking, pets, etc.
How to Store It
- Do not let light hit tallow, it can spoil if kept in prolonged exposure, so use colored glass or opaque containers to block out light
- Do not freeze tallow, you do not need to, it’s solid at room temperature
- Do not stick utensils or your fingers in stored tallow, bacteria, and microbes will grow in it
- Store your tallow in an airtight container or mason jar to prevent oxidation
Growing up in the Bluegrass State, it was a point of familial pride to be able to shoot, trap, identify plants and track animals. Summer camps helped us be well versed in camping, weapons, and survival skills from a young age. We were surrounded by such a lush environment, and we used the resources we had.
I met my soulmate in my happiest place to be- a seemingly enchanted winding trail next to a beautiful wooded glen- where I spent as much time exploring as I could during daylight hours with my trusty four-legged friends.
The bucket list includes living the days painting and writing on a fully self-sufficient homestead, off-grid with our animals and family and plenty of land for the significant other (who I think is a true artist at weapons and living that way) to shoot to his heart’s content. Naturally organic living for us and the animals is a goal.