Does the idea of slathering rendered animal fat all over your body sound appealing to you? If not, you may have done just that this morning in the shower without even knowing it. Sodium tallowate, a combination of lye and animal fat, is a very common ingredient in soap. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a bar without it in a conventional grocery store or pharmacy. All the major companies use it. According to the cosmetic database, there are about 215 soaps on the market containing this unsavory component.
The process of rendering animal fat consists of taking carcasses of dead animals and boiling them in a cooking pot to create fatty byproducts. The decaying carcasses come from every source imaginable – deadstock (animals that die before they reach the slaughterhouse), roadkill, euthanized shelter and zoo animals, expired meat from grocery stores, used cooking oil from restaurants, lab animals… grossed out yet? The worst part is that the majority of this fat goes into cosmetics – lipstick, eye shadow, soap.
Thankfully, alternatives exist. Most natural/organic cosmetic companies wouldn’t think about putting these disgusting ingredients in their products. My favorite convenient choice is Kiss My Face Olive Oil Soap which you can find in most health food stores. Another great option is to buy handmade soap from crafters in your area – they are the most luxurious soaps around. My favorite soaper is Sacred Circle Herbs in Guelph, Ontario. If you’re really ambitious, you can learn to make your own. Check for courses in your area.
Bottom line is to read your labels. Rendered animal fat can also be listed as Tallow Acid, Tallow Amide, Tallow Amine, Talloweth-6, Tallow Glycerides, and Tallow Imidazoline.