A modern new twist from a frontier legacy | TheFencePost.com

A modern new twist from a frontier legacy

by Marlene Groves

Kiowa, Colo.

You’ve probably heard it said that Native Americans used just about all of the parts of the buffalo and you may have heard that tallow was used to make soap. It would be difficult to describe exactly how Native Americans made their bison tallow soap, but thanks to Joan O’Neill of High Plains Soap in Colorado Springs, Colo., some of the basic steps become a little clearer.

Along with making soaps, Joan is a stained glass artist and a friendly employee of G &C Packing in Colorado Springs, where many buffalo are processed. This provides Joan with a source to obtain her buffalo tallow. Joan has been making buffalo tallow soaps for about one year; but was initially taught how to make soaps using only oils.

Buffalo tallow soaps are wonderful for human skin. Even customers who have in the past been bothered by a variety of skin conditions really see improvement when switching to the natural buffalo tallow soaps. The soaps can be made in a variety of fragrances by using different essential and fragrance oils.


– This is not for kids!

– Anyone making soap needs to be careful.

– Choose the right type of equipment/supplies before starting.

– NEVER use aluminum!

– Only use tempered glass.



STEP 1 “

Rendering the tallow

– Place tallow/fat into a large stainless steel pan (adding water to assist in the melting process).

– Slowly melt fat over a very low flame. (This process can take anywhere from 10 to 24 hours depending on the fat quality.)

– After the fat has melted, strain it into another container to separate the tallow (liquid) from the cracklings (solid matter).

– Allow the tallow to cool and separate.

– After the tallow is hard remove any unwanted remains.

– Freeze for future use or use as needed.

STEP 2 ” Blend tallow and oils

– Weigh 38 oz. of tallow (2 pounds, 6 ounces).

– Weigh 24 oz. of liquid oil (olive oil works well).

– Weigh 24 oz. of hard oil (coconut oil works well).

– Blend all of these together by heating, then strain if needed.

STEP 3 ” Water and Lye

– Measure 30 oz. of water.

– Measure 12 oz. of lye (Red Devil works just fine and it’s available in most stores).

SAFETY NOTE: Mix these together outside in a glass container (NOT metal) and wear rubber gloves!

STEP 4 ” Other oils

– Measure and hold aside:

– 2 oz. of Aloe Vera Oil

– 2 oz. of Jojoba Oil

– 4 oz. of Fragrance Oil (any fragrance oil you like will do).

STEP 5 ” Matching temperatures

– The batches of Tallow/Oil, and Water/Lye must reach the same temperatures (between 92-98 degrees). Check them both with separate thermometers.

STEP 6 ” Prepare soap containers

– Get your soap containers ready. You can use a variety of items like soap molds, PVC tubes, etc.

STEP 7 ” Mix together

– Once the two mixtures (Tallow and Oil, and Water and Lye) have reached a matching temperature you can mix them together.

– Slowly pour these mixtures together, stirring gently; then stir the other oils, which have not been heated.

– Stir the mixture until the consistency changes to where you can see the streaks from stirring. This may take up to 20 minutes.

STEP 8 ” Soap molds

– Pour soap into soap molds, then cover and let sit for 24 hours.

– Make sure to wrap soap molds with towels to keep the temperature up and aid in setting up of soap.

STEP 9 ” Cut and wrap soaps, and they are ready to sell, give as gifts, or just use to make your life a little “smoother.”


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