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Thread: Making Tallow Candles

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    Default Making Tallow Candles

    I took the hard fat from my deer and rendered it down to make tallow. Tallow is hard like wax and can be used for all sorts of things from candles to wood, bone and leather preservative. You can use it to waterproof your boots or make soap. You can cook with it. Rendering is a process which takes fat which would otherwise go rancid and removes impurities, this keeps it from going rancid.

    The first thing you need to do is remove the hard fat from your deer or other animal. Fat from deer, sheep, beef and bison is considered tallow while fat from pigs is considered lard. Lard is much softer than tallow, but the process is the same for either.

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    Next, I cut mine into 1" or so cubes. Now is the time to remove any chunks of meat, tendon or the like that you don't want in the mix. I removed the large chunks of meat, blood, tendon and sinew and left the rest.

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    This next step is optional, but should speed up the rendering process. Grind it up!

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    I also weighed mine to get an idea of how much fat and such it takes to make a pound of tallow. If I recall correctly I had just over 1-3/4 pounds of fat and scraps.

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    There are three ways to go at this point. I chose to boil because it is safer and prevents overheating. I added it to a pot and added just enough water to cover it.

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    Bring it to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer until the fat oozes out, 1/2 to 1 hour should be plenty of time if you grind it. I let mine go for 1 hour. If you didn't grind you will probably want to use a potato masher or the like to squish out the fat from the chunks as it simmers. Don't let it boil over or slop out, it will catch fire and/ or splatter if it hits the burner.

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    Once you feel all the fat has seperated immediately strain it through a fine a mesh strainer. Don't let any go down the sink or it will plug it up and be careful not to burn yourself. If you haven't ground the fat you'll want to squish the bits with the potato masher to get the remaining fat to run through.

    The strainer bits can be fed to the birds, cats, or dogs. They'll love it. If the fat was fresh you can eat it yourself. If you had simply fried out the tallow without water and without grinding you would now have cracklins. People eat this stuff. I tasted some and it had no real flavor and was the consistency of overcooked hamburger.

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    Now, let it cool off to room temp and refrigerate overnight. You actually don't have to refrigerate it, but it goes quicker if you do.

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    In the morning you'll have this...

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    Slide a knife or something down beside it to loosen and lift it out. Mine was already loose so I just reach in and grabbed it. It weighs about 1-1/2 pounds now.

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    As you can see, it will have some grizzle/ cracklin bits that made it through the colander on top, and loose bits on the bottom. Rinse it off with cold water. Some bits will stay, that's ok. By the way, hot water will melt it. Dry it off completely with a towel.

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    Now you can get rid of the water and bits that settled out. I wouldn't put them down the sink, but feed to the dogs or cats. It is full of nourishment that they otherwise would not likely get. It's essentially a really rich beef or, in this case, venison broth.

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    Now, break it up into a small pan, place that pan in a larger pan filled partway with water. Let it melt. Be careful not to boil the water over and watch out for splattering from any moisture left in it. It will burn you. Let it go until any retained moisture is evaporated off. Be careful not to spill the meted tallow, it will ignite if it hits the burner.

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    Let it cool slightly and pour it through a coffee filter into a dry heat safe container to get rid of the small bits that didn't settle out earlier. It needs to be pretty warm to run through the filter, don't burn yourself or melt the filter. If you pour it into glass that is wet or not heat safe it will likely break the glass. I use dry canning jars.

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    Let it set up once more and it is now rendered safe, it will not go rancid. If you used sterilized equipment you can supposedly let the jars seal and store it in the cupboard. I'm storing mine in the refrigerator.

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    Now you can make candles and stuff. Here, I used a sliver of false tinder fungus as a wick and added some Nutmeg and vanilla to give it a pleasing scent. It has a lower melting point than wax, your body heat will melt it. But, if filtered well it burns fairly clean and long with no noticable scent.

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    That's it! Here's a video that shows the entire process. It's real easy to do, but you have to be careful not to burn yourself or catch something on fire.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYU8uVmzX5E


  2. #2
    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Great tutorial. A little rep sent your way.
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    Senior Member ravenscar's Avatar
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    what is the estimated time it can last in storage?
    please, do not feed the birds

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    I stored mine in a butter tub out in the shed, for a year now. While mine did go moldy and get a bit of a smell, it still works fine for fuel.
    If stored and cleaned as well as RWC has done here, I'd imagine it would keep for several years.

    I've never tasted deer cracklins before, but I eat pork-skins a lot. Next time try them with a little salt and pepper and let me know how those deer cracklins taste!

    Another great tute RWC! Nice work!
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    "sorry backside" rebel's Avatar
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    Great tutorial!

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I did much the same with pork fat.

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...=bacon+candles

    I have 3 pints of rendered lard that have been sitting on the counter for seven months and I've seen no noticeable change. Remember that when fat goes rancid it is simply oxidizing and not rotting. Unless it takes on an objectionable order it will still be perfectly usable for something like candles. It's probably even safe to eat but here's another instance in which I'm not going to be the guinea pig. If it begins to smell then you probably do have some microbial action going on.

    Another really great tutorial, RWC. Once you've boiled the tallow why couldn't you simply strain it? That would bypass a couple of steps but arrive at the same location I think. You'd have tallow mixed with water and the bits removed by the filter.

    I'm not questioning your method just trying to understand your process. As I said, another great tut. More rep your way!!

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    Nice Post rwc,, Rep sent,,

    So when all is done, do you basically have lard ? or is it as firm as wax ?

  8. #8

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    Even if you don't hunt you can use the same process described above with bacon grease or other captured animal fat.

    We always called cracklin the smaller harder pork rinds. Now, the call pork rinds pork skins.

    I prefer Baken-ets hot-n-spicy fried pork skins over any home made ones I have ever tried. Lots of latin people make chicharrones. Which is the same thing only harder to say and eat. LOL

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I'll let him speak to the tallow but in the case of lard you have a solid material with a consistency something like pudding at room temperature. Remember the tallow or lard is inside the animal (you and me) so it has to be very pliable or we couldn't move. In my case, I'd be a rock.

    The lard turns to liquid at the slightest touch so it doesn't take much heat at all to convert it.

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    So lard wouldn't make a very good candle,, (unless its really cold),,

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batch View Post
    Even if you don't hunt you can use the same process described above with bacon grease or other captured animal fat.

    We always called cracklin the smaller harder pork rinds. Now, the call pork rinds pork skins.

    I prefer Baken-ets hot-n-spicy fried pork skins over any home made ones I have ever tried. Lots of latin people make chicharrones. Which is the same thing only harder to say and eat. LOL
    Yes, those are good,,, great with beer !

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Actually, it makes a great candle. Like RWC said, once processed it's odor free, which was a surprise to me, and melts easily so you have a liquid feeding the wick much like a kerosene lamp. The key is the wick material. In my link you'll see I used two wicks. A little experimentation and a nice candle holder to deflect wind would make a very nice candle.

  13. #13

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    Ravenscar, I can't say how long it will last, first time doing this, that's why I said "supposedly" in my OP. But, I do know that we've kept bacon grease on the stove and reused it. My papaw and mamaw used to re-use lard the same way and it never went bad even uncovered.

    Rick, I strained it once to get the big bits out, let it harden and then re-heated and strained it again through the coffee filter to get the smaller bits out and any moisture. The big bits would instantly clog the coffee filter and by reheating it you also get rid of any moisture left in it. Any retained moisture will cause your candles to pop and sputter.

    Lard is definitely much softer than tallow, but is essentially the same thing. In the old days when all candles were made with tallow they would add alum to the mix which made the tallow even harder I beleive or made it so it wouldn't melt at such a low temp. I'm not 100% sure of these processes as the article I read was from the 1800's and spoke of different methods and uses for tallow.

    You can really dive deep into the subject if you like and find different mixes for different uses. My original thought was to do it simply as possible with the intended use as a lube, preservative and candle/ lamp oil. I'm not sure how it would work as lamp oil though since it's quite hard and only flows when melted.

    anyhoo, seeing how easily it ran into the tinder fungus I made some firestarters by soaking punky poplar wood, King Alfred's cakes, Reishi and Tinder fungus in the stuff. They can now be chopped up or shaved like fatwood to be used in wet weather firestarting. But, they don't seem to take a spark as easily as fatwood does.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Case View Post
    ...do you basically have lard ? or is it as firm as wax ?
    It is firm as wax, but has a melting point of 109 -114 F depending on the type of fat used and possibly other variables.

    If you rub it hard with your finger it will leave an oily esidue on your finger, but it wont flat out melt.

    There is a scale called the titre scale or the like that is used to determine the quality of tallow. The term tallow actually refers to a rendered fats ability to not melt until above a certain temp, that's why lard isn't tallow, because it melts at too low a temp.

    If that makes any sense.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Very good tutorial.

    There is a very wide dfference betweren lards and tallow. Well rendered tallow will be very solid and will snap and break if bent.

    Tallow will keep for up to two years.

    It is also convertable after first molding. Tallow candles can be melted and the fat used as food, pemican, bullet lube, leather tanning or anything else that requires a different form. (I got these examples from the Lewis and Clark Journals. They used tallow candles as a convinient and useful transport form)

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    really asome post thank you.

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    Can you eat this crap in candle form. If you were in a survival situation?

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheLocalOutdoorsman View Post
    Can you eat this crap in candle form. If you were in a survival situation?
    I dont see why not its just animal fat . not sure of the nutrition value if any .
    I Wonder Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink what ever comes out?"

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    Quality Control Director Ken's Avatar
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    Welder, I think we have another one!
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken View Post
    Welder, I think we have another one!
    we shall see
    I Wonder Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink what ever comes out?"

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