Sodium tallowate in natural soap

Sodium tallowate is a combination of tallow - a fat that is derived from the fatty tissue of cattle - and lye (sodium hydroxide). When the two are mixed a chemical reaction takes place, known as saponification. This creates soap - many commercial soaps do not go through this process and are more commonly detergents.

Sodium tallowate was one of the first soap formulations, with recipes dating back to ancient Roman times. There are plenty of sodium tallowate recipes available online, but key to the success of Skin Salve Natural Soap has been balancing sodium tallowate with sodium cocoate and the other core ingredients to create a bar that cleanses, moisturises and is gentle on sensitive skin. This means that it can be used all over your body, as well as a shaving bar,

Sodium tallowate has two core functions in soap production - it acts as a surfactant and an emollient.

Sodium tallowate as a surfactant

A surfactant (surface-active agent) is a substance that can reduce the surface tension of a liquid and thus allow it to foam or penetrate solids. Sodium tallowate bonds with both water and oil, and is able to break the surface tension that allows dirt and oil to easily be washed off by water molecules. This is a good thing in soap production, but creating a bar that is ‘too cleansing’ risks damaging the skin. The challenge is always to balance each ingredient with others to create the optimum bar of soap. This property is also key to the success of the Skin Salve Non-Bio Washing Powder which is able to safely wash clothes without exposing your skin to harmful chemicals.

Sodium tallowate as an emollient

Sodium tallowate has moisturising and emollient properties - it can help to nourish and hydrate the skin. It forms a protective barrier that helps to retain moisture, preventing dryness and leaving the skin feeling soft and supple.

Sodium tallowate is great for soap

It’s a versatile ingredient found in many personal care products, including bar soaps, liquid soaps, facial cleansers, and body washes. As a surfactant, it’s able to cleanse the skin and has the ability to create a dense lather.

In addition to its cleansing benefits, Sodium Tallowate also provides moisturisation, emollient properties and stability to our formulation. Because of the fatty acids present in Sodium tallowate, it helps to create a long-lasting bar that maintains its shape and hardness even with repeated use. This makes it ideal for everyday cleansing routines and for all over body use.

Is sodium tallowate safe?

Sodium tallowate has been used for centuries in soap making as a safe ingredient and is found today in many high quality care products.

30 years ago, it was used to create a natural bar soap for people with sensitive skin such as eczema and for the last three decades, this soap has helped thousands of people with sensitive skin.

EWG guide to safer personal care products gives Sodium tallowate it’s safest rating:

The Skin deep hazard score (rated from 1 to 10) reflects known and suspected hazards linked to ingredients. The EQG Verified mark means an ingredient meets the strictest criteria for transparency and health.[1]

Overall, Sodium Tallowate is a widely used ingredient in the personal care industry, valued for its cleansing abilities, lathering and moisturising properties, and contribution to the overall experience of using soap-based products. These qualities make the Skin Salve Natural Soap a great bar for people with sensitive skin that can be used everyday.


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Reviewed by: James Davidson

Date: 16/02/24

Next Review: 12/01/2025