Q: What’s the difference between the more expensive soap made with vegetable oils and the cheaper commercial brands of soap? ~ D.W., Los Angeles, CA
A: Soap is the resultant compound made by reacting fat (either from vegetables or animals) with sodium hydroxide. The less expensive, commercially-manufactured soaps use tallow (animal fat).
Tallow – Is It Fit To Be Fat?
Tallow is a low-cost waste product of the meat industry. It is basically fat stripped from slaughtered cattle, but it may also include fat rendered from slaughtered sheep and pigs.
Soap manufactured from animal fat is called sodium tallowate. 50% of a slaughtered steer is tallow and bones – the main ingredient of commercial mass-produced soap. Ivory® states that their tallow comes from meat processing scraps and consists of beef and/or pork hide and bones.
The Skinny on Animal Fat
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, from the time cattle hides are removed from the animal, rapidly-growing bacteria populates the fresh hide. In order to control bacterial growth, bactericides and detergent or large amounts of salt need to be used as a preservative. Further, cattle hide is one of the primary sources of E.coli contamination on carcasses. Continue reading