Animal fat that is processed from suet is called tallow or lard.Tallow is usually made from beef fat, though occasionally from mutton fat. Lard is made from pork fat. For centuries, people have used tallow for cooking, candles and soaps. Currently some companies are using tallow to produce biodiesel and motor fuel oils as an alternative energy source.
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Many soap makers use tallow instead of vegetable oil for making soap. Adding tallow to soap will make the soap lather thicker and the bar harder. Tallow soap is considered a mild cleaner and conditioner. Some consumers do not like animal products in their cleaning products, however, so adding tallow to soap can be a negative for some consumers.
Candle makers use tallow to manufacture their candles instead of more expensive alternatives such as paraffin. Tallow candles can be made in moulds or as dip candles. Candles made from tallow are inexpensive and easy to make, and people have used them for centuries.
Due to increasing concerns over the depletion of natural oil, industry is testing many alternative fuel sources. Biodiesel, produced from animals fats such as tallow, is similar to fuel made using petrochemicals. Companies use transesterification, a process that works through the reaction of triglyceride molecules with alcohol, such as methanol, to convert tallow to biodiesel. Because this process requires using batches, however, it is time consuming and costly.
People commonly use beef tallow to tan leather, and tallow is one of the main ingredients in many leather conditioner products.
Long before the use of vegetable oil, most homes and restaurants cooked with oil made from beef tallow. According to the Biodeisel B20 website, "McDonald's originally fried their french fries in an oil mix of 93 per cent beef tallow and 7 per cent cottonseed oil." Today there is much controversy over whether cooking with vegetable oil that includes trans fat is really healthier for people than cooking with all-natural tallow.
Tallow has a very high smoking point of 215 degrees C, does not need refrigeration and, if kept in an airtight container to avoid oxidation, can be reused many times. Unlike vegetable oil, tallow has recognised nutrients such as vitamin K2 that are not found in hydrogenated oils.
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