What is lard used for in soap making?
how to render it from scratch

What is lard? Lard or pig fat has several great characteristics that turn it in the perfect ingredient for soap making. Knowing how to render the fat for lard soap, will cut down on homemade soap costs and is a sustainable way to use all the animal.

Before we take a look at the process, it’s important to shed some light on what is lard and why it happens to be such a great natural soap ingredient. 

What is lard?

Rendered lard is cooked pig fat, rendering is actually the process of getting the fat to melt off. It is used for cooking and eaten as a spread.It is a popular ingredient in baking and frying. It can also be used as a biofuel and in soap making.

Benefits of lard in soap making

Some people have the very wrong idea that animal fats like lard and tallow will clog the pores and make the soap “heavy.” Lard or pig fat will produce creamy and stable lather. In addition, it has mild moisturizing qualities that will prevent the soap from drying the skin.

Lard soap is highly compatible with the structure of the human cells. The cell membrane is largely composed of saturated fats, just like the ones found in lard. This is the main reason why soaps based on animal fats have the nourishing properties that plant-based fats don’t deliver (plant-based fats like olive or almond oil, for example, are a source of monounsaturated fats).

In addition, lard will make the soap bar hard and long-lasting. Some plant-based oils can turn the soap into a big pile of blob immediately after wetting. This can be a huge problem that can be solved through the addition of lard.

As a soap maker lard offer other benefits because it is an affordable and easy to find ingredient. You can find some lard recipes here.

Lard might not offer great label appeal, however it is a sustainable soap making ingredient by using the lard we are ensuring that the whole animal is being used instead of wasted. I respect that certain people do not wish to use animal products.

When the opportunity came up for me to receive some pig fat, I felt that it was a great opportunity to really make from scratch.

How to render lard: a step by step guide

Now that you’re aware of what is lard and the benefits of lard soap, it’s time to go through the rendering process.

You will need the following:

  • Crock pot or a stovetop
  • At least one pound of unrendered pork fat (pastured lard is the best source of vitamin D)
  • if the fat is not ground, you can cut into very small chunks or use  a meat grinder or food processor
  • Sharp knife
  • Half-cup of water
  • One tablespoon of salt per pound of fat (optional)
  • Cutting board
  • Large spoon
  • Sieve or a colander
  • Cheesecloth
  • Jars with lids (mason jars are great) or ziploc bags

Step 1: Use the knife to cut the lard in small pieces. Trim away pieces of meat, as much as you can.

The simplest and fastest way is to ask the butcher to grind the fat. If you cannot do that you can cut it in very small chunks, grind it yourself or use a food processor.

Step 2: Add the water and salt (optional) to the saucepan or crockpot and place pieces of fat inside. Set your the temperature of the stovetop or the crock pot to the lowest heat setting.

Step 3: Some liquid oil will start forming approximately one hour after the start of the process. Stir the lard around. Repeat that occasionally (about every 30 minutes or so) until all of the pig fat is melted completely.

Step 4: Let the lard continue to cook on low temperature for about 2 to 4 hours. Once all of the lard has melted, you will see some small brown bits on the bottom of the crock pot. These indicate the end of the process. You will now have to strain the rendered fat. Line a colander or a sieve with a cheesecloth and pour the contents of the crock pot. This way, you will separate the fat from the brown bits.

Step 5: Pour the rendered lard in jars and let it cool down or place in the fridge for a few hours.To extend the shelf life of lard you can keep it in the fridge or in ziploc bags in the freezer. You can use the cracklings as snacks, salad toppings or in soups. You may want to fry them a bit more to get them extra crispy.

Hope that you've enjoyed finding out a bit more about what is lard, how to render it and the benefits of this ingredient in soap making. Check out these lard soap recipes for inspiration.