How to Render Fat
For Soapmaking and Cooking

Knowing how to render fat for soap making is a wonderful way to make the most of everything you have, including those scraps of fat left over from drippings and butchering. 

John Seymour, author of the book, The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It believes that the truly self-sufficient homesteader throws nothing away, making the use of every single leftover item, including scraps of fat. 

Whether it’s chicken fat, hog fat, or goose fat, any of it can be rendered down to clear fat for making soap or for cooking. 

If you have pig fat, make lard for both soap and surprisingly healthy cooking.

But I do have to give a word of warning here:  Hot fat can burn, so you must be careful. 

A friend of mine got severe burns once trying to render fat.  A chunk of fat slipped out of his hands and landed in the hot oil, causing it to splash on his face.  So if you choose to render your own fat, please remember this one thing:  Be extremely careful when working with hot fats, and make sure you cook them on low heat.

How to Render Fat - the Basics

The first step in learning how to render fat is to take it in baby steps.  My friend got badly burned because he was making a huge batch at once.  Instead, render your fat in small batches.  Also, if you are rendering fat for a soap recipe, you will need to render one pound of fat more than you will need for your soap recipe. That means that if you need six pounds of lard, you will need about seven pounds of fat.

Continue Skimming

As the fat heats and becomes liquid, the solids will sink to the bottom of the pot. Slowly pour the liquid into a clean pot and throw away the solids. Allow the fat to cool to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Then add an equal amount of lukewarm water. Bring the fat and water to a gentle simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.

Cool Things Down

Set your pot outside overnight to chill, or put it in your refrigerator. In the morning, the fat will have risen to the top. The remaining unwanted solids will be in the bottom of the pot.

Using a spatula, remove the top layer of fat. If there is a jellylike substance on the bottom of your fat, scrape that substance off and throw it away. You only want the pure, hardened fat.

Reheat Your Fat

Then break up the hardened fat into chunks and put it into another pot. Add an equal amount of water and one large potato cut in half. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.

Allow it to cool overnight. Then lift the fat out of the water and scrape the bottom clean. Congratulations! You now have rendered fat for your next soap recipe. Either use it right away or store it in the freezer for future use.

This recipe comes from the book, Milk-Based Soaps: Making Natural, Skin-Nourishing Soap by Casey Makela.

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