Sheep Tallow Candles.

I hate waste and I love trying to do things first hand, I don’t mind reading things but I often! find that something that seems long or hard on paper can in fact move smoothly and turn out to be quite easy when done, and I have also read some things that seem so simple or would work so easily, and then when you go to do it.. it either does not work or works but so poorly that its hardly worth the time..

So when I read on many sites that Sheep or Lamb Tallow was the choice for homemade candle making, I thought hmmm, now the very rich used beeswax to make their candles and both beef and pork fat was used in candle making when folks had little to no choice, of course in many parts of the world, whale oil was used for generations.

Now, lard (pork fat) is said to have a strong smell to it, and was not considered of highly, now given that this was during times where folks liked to boost of things like.. “I take a bath once a month, weither I need it or not” or didn’t bath more then once a year, for them to think something didn’t smell good, I will take their word for it..

Interestingly the middle class would according to my research, often mix a little beeswax into their lamb tallow at about a 3/4 tallow, 1/4 beeswax, this would produce a slightly firmer candle and would create a more pleasent smell when burning.

On the flip side, I have found other sites that said that for those that could not afford pure sheep or lamb tallow, they mixed their half and half with the cheaper but still useable beef tallow..

So I butchered out two legs of lamb this week, and I saved every single bit of fat on them and put them to boil with the bones, I then drained/strained the broth, it filled 3 quart jars to the brim and into the fridge to set, I took off layers of solid fat,but it was still not as clean as I would like it.

Now there were two choices given , dry or wet in regards to cleaning the tallow, the wet is to add water to the fat and bring it carefully to 160 and then strain it though a screen with a layer of clean cloth, or cheese cloth or butter cloth.  Or you can choose to do it dry, again heating the oil to melting point at 140, and then straining it.

This is the second cleaning of the tallow, at this point it would be considered top grade tallow (which has four grades per our industrial ratings), now this would be wonderful tallow to use in cooking, as the fat has a very high smoke point, and as this was grass feed organic lamb, the fats contant alot of healthy benafits, it could also be used in baking if required. Clearly if you were truly living off the land, you would need to find a balance between needing the fat in your diet vs using it as a light/heat source.

However, I was on a different track with it, now my lamb legs, produced me 4 oz of twice cleaned lamb tallow, I put it into a 8 0z canning jar, along with a wick.. now remember to attach your wick to the rod that will lay across the top of your jar flat, so that you can hang your wick straight down in the center of your candle, now I cheated and put it in the fridge but there is no reason you would have to do that, you could let it set on the counter, but my purr-pots were way to interested in the smell of that fat to leave it out and alone.

Now comes the big test, it lit well, it buys with a lovely candle glow, it does not have a smell, in fact is darn right pleasent what little smell it does have.. now it does have two interesting things of note, one it burns louder then a typical candle, its has a soft sputter sound is the best I can say.. second it burns faster then a typical modern candle, or to be fair, it burns faster in a good qaulity modern candle but slower then one of those super cheap candles.

Now, this is awesome, I now have a way to create my own homemade 0 mile candles..

In keeping with this, I will be ordering in a good supply of wicks to put into my Emergency Supplies and will continue making my tallow candles, this is to me, a wonderful addition to my ever growing emergency supplies and skill set.. If anyone makes their own homemade tallow candles and have any tips to offer me, I would love to hear from you.

This is a Homestead Preparedness Challange-Emergency Supplies

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20 Responses to Sheep Tallow Candles.

  1. Susan says:

    Pretty awesome!! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Deb W says:

    Hey FarmGal, Haven’t done any candles yet, but you’ve got me thinking (again; )…
    Thinking that your “spluttering” sound might be a tiny bit of water left from the cleaning process?
    And that smell issue you mentioned: wouldn’t that tend to happen if the oil/tallow/fat was too old and had gone rancid? Let’s face it, they didn’t have very good storage facilities, if any, ‘way back when.

    • Hi Deb,
      Funny that was what my mom and I were talking about this morning, that it was most likely water left in the fat, but not sure how to get more out, other then to consider putting it in the deydrator for an hour in small crumbs and then remelt it to make the candle, it would help remove any last bits of water, on the other hand, as my momma say’s its very in style, she say’s glade has just come out with a crackle candle line, so I am just ahead of my time LOL

      As for the smell, I don’t know, I can tell beef tallow by smell from pork or lamb just by openning the lid, and its processed and store safely but it does have a much stronger smell then pork, which has its own smell but honestly the lamb tallow has almost NO smell to it. However your point is very valid, I don’t think the animal fat would matter much, if and or when it went rancid, it would have a smell for sure.

      • Deb W says:

        Lol. I’m betting that your animals would just naturally be cleaner… I was reading somewhere recently about how much better grass-fed beef is than mass-market produced, grain finished animals (it wasn’t here, was it?) full of super good-for-you, cholesterol fighting nutrients (whose names, of course, escape me at the moment; ).

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  5. JET says:

    I wont be able to use lamb tallow but have beef and pork fat to use. I’ll try mixing with bee’s wax . I have ton’s. I collect stubs from churches. My tapers are a good project but time consuming. I have bushel baskets of jars for canning I’ll use a small one.
    I have some gardening questions and wonder if I could pick your brain for tips. I left carrots to winter over, just a few. They are green and growing fine. when can I expect seed shoots/ flowers? What would be an indicator they are ready to pick, dry and replant?
    I hear alot about heirloom seeds. My toms dropped alot of fruit and I had plenty of small plants wanting to grow last year. If they were not heirloom would the seeds not sprout or will they be sterile?
    My compost got a celery stub dropped in. It rooted and sprouted. would that produce a seed pod? I dont think it would regrow into a celery stalk but wonder if it could be useful.
    Have you ever heard of putting potato in the fall and letting them winter over?
    enough questions for now Thanx for the tallow post

    • From my research, I don’t believe that the beef or pork will give you the same results but I am certianly interested hearing back how it goes for you if you do it and what ratio’s to bee’s wax you used.

      As for the carrots, the seed to seed by suzanne ashwood is the seed saving bible, and well worth having in your garden book collection..

      Do you have any queens anne lace in your area, as carrots with cross with it, you need to do hand pollination and or caging to make sure your seed is pure or you are a good risk that it will be mixed seed, so if you want to grow and collect the seed just to learn how that’s fine but if you are hoping for pure carrot seed from the carrots left over the winter, the odds are not to good really.

      They will produce a flower very much like queens anne lace, its wild cousin, you can either let it dry in the garden or cut fully mature and air dried,

      As for the tomato’s, if they are growing on their own, they will produce fruit, the questions is will they be true to their parents or will they be one off’s, which by the way there is little wrong with that.. there are something like 4000 different versions of tomato known and collected worldwide, so making a few new cross’s in your own garden is not a bad thing, as long you like the way they taste and can be worked.

      Typically a heirtage veggie will breed true (with proper pollination depending on if it can cross breed or not), where as hybrid (which are not! the same thing as GMO) will produce offspring but they will be non-uniform, some might be a bit more this part of that parent, where that one might be a bit more of that parent.. kind of like kids, where you can get bits and parts of the family to show in the grandkids, hybred are simular.. but they are the best way to create new lines.. let some seed grow and see if it produces something that you like the taste of that does well in your soil, your climate and hand breed the two best plants together and within a few years you will have plants that fit your land..

      Don’t believe that the celery will go to seed, but it will produce lots of small stalks and lots of great celery greens to be put to use in your kitchen…

      Yes, I have planted potato’s in the fall to overwinter then, as they will be ready week before the spring planted, so they are considered my “early” potato’s for eating, you typically need to bed them down or at least you do in my neck of the woods..

  6. Madara says:

    Recently I have found out that I can make candles from sheep fat. That´s a revelation to me. This is the first thing I read and it sounds so easy. I am all for natural candles, home-spun wool, horn jewelry and so on. I love to explore old ways of doing things as it makes me feel more independent and less consumer. Thanks!

  7. Tanya says:

    hi, i am very new to this. we bought a whole lamb this weekend and don’t want to toss away all the fat we’ve cut off. when you do the first cleaning point with fat and bones, do you add water?
    thank you!

  8. loridorchak says:

    This is an old post but I had to put my 2 cents in!
    I made soap with my sheep fat but it did have a slight lamby smell to it.
    Maybe i need to render it twice to purify it.
    I’m living my dream on the farm down in southern Chile.

    • Hello, I have found that older sheep fat does have a bit more scent to it, then the lamb does, the other factors at play are if they are hair or wool sheep, I have a girlfriend that did it with wool sheep and I thought hers might have a bit more of a scent as well..

      But I do think that the fact that I cleaned the fat.. enjoy your dream life and nice to have someone visiting from chile 🙂

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  10. There is a difference between fat and tallow, if we are being technical. Tallow is the hard fat from inside, whereas ordinary fat is around the muscles. Use tallow for candles, fat for soap. Mince them both (separately, and you will need to take any remaining muscle off the fat) then render down in the over on 100 – 140 max deg C. You will get a lot of clean dry fat that way.

  11. Martin Clarke says:

    Hi – can anyone tell me whether ‘wool-wax’ which I understand is or was a by-product of wool combing or scouring, was used for candle making? I ask because in 1800s amongst my ancestors were ships chandlers and wool merchants in Cork, I have always assumed the two businesses were interrelated but cannot find any direct reference to the use of ‘wool-wax’ in candle making. The chandlery business came to an abrupt end in 1870 when a four storey warehouse full of candles, burnt down.

  12. martin clarke says:

    I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself, got into a loop re-registering my password etc.
    On the subject of candles, my question is or was ‘wool-wax’ (a by-product of degreasing or cleaning wool), used for candlemaking? I had ancestors in Cork, brothers in fact one was a ships chandler, major product candles, the other a wool merchant. Were the two trades interdependent? Seems likely but I cannot find any definitive reference to the use of wool-wax for candles.

  13. Erick Tamberg says:

    Here in Brazil, “tallow” word also means a bookstore that sells used books. When electric light still not existed, reading was under sheep tallow candle lighting. Books became impregnated with tallow vapours, and its presence in book pages indicated that was already readed. When stored in large volumes in bookstores, the tallow smell was so strong that “tallow” became to mean a “used books store”.

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