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Thursday, January 25 2024

Traditional diets from around the world have used animal fat in their diets for thousands of years. Lard is from a monogastric animal such as a pig, although some people believe Duck fat is a form of lard, and tallow is from ruminant animals (animals that eat mainly grass and have multiple stomachs). This would be cows, sheep, and deer.  Is there a difference between lard and tallow?  Does one offer advantages the other does not?  Why have modern humans replaced lard and tallow as a treatment for skincare with artificial ingredients such as phthalates, parabens, seed oils, and petroleum derived chemicals?  

In both cases lard and tallow are rendered, which means the fat was heated to remove any water, separate the fat from organs and then cooled. The fat from a pig usually is harvested from under the skin at the belly, its back or around the kidney.  The lard from around the kidney of a pig is called leaf lard, is creamier, and softer than the belly or back fat with a less porky taste. Some say tallow is tasteless but both lard and tallow have a very mild taste, and both are odorless.  Pigs have more fat under their skin than do cows. In the case of ruminant animals such as cows and sheep the fat is harvested from the kidneys and loins (hips and abdomen) because unlike a pig, they have very little fat under the skin.  Tallow is rendered down from something called Suet and can remain unrefrigerated from to six to twelve months at room temperature. 

Both pigs and ruminants produce vitamin D in the skin, which is stored in their fat, pigs produce more of it, possibly because they have less hair.  While both lard and tallow contain all the fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K, surprisingly, lard from pasture raised pigs has more vitamin D and A than any other source other than cod liver oil.  On the other hand, tallow from grass fed cows and sheep have more omega three fats and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) than pig lard.  These facts do not apply to pigs and cows that are not pasture raised.  Those animals in concentrated feed lots are eating grains that may have been sprayed with pesticides and that might show up in the fat of the animal.  When purchasing lard or tallow it should only be from a humanely based and organic natural source that was grass finished.  This is harder to find with pig lard because so many pigs are raised in unhealthy feedlots from big agricultural companies. 

Lard is a little softer than tallow at room temperature, so it works better with baking recipes while tallow is better for frying.  Both have high smoke points for cooking with tallow being slightly higher than lard at about 400 degrees vs lard which is about 360 degrees.  Chefs use both lard and tallow to improve the taste of many dishes such as adding it to thicken gravy and stews, and both are used to season iron skillets and pans.  

Tallow because it is firmer than lard is better for making soap and candles and while skin care products often use tallow, lard can also be used for the skin.  In fact, some argue that lard might be the better fat for skin care products.  Pigs (and chickens) are the only domesticated omnivores and since man is an omnivore, maybe this is why.  Lard is the closest exogenous substance on the planet to human sebum which is the natural oils our subcutaneous glands produce. Lard also has the same pH and lipid balance as human skin. That makes lard a near perfect bioidentical treatment for human skin problems.  

If there is water in any commercial skin cream it presents problems.  A company does not have to divulge where their water is coming from, and it could contain chlorine, fluoride, bacteria, or fungi. This would kill the natural microbiome of the skin. Water would require preservatives such as parabens and DMDM hydantoin which have their own health risks, and emulsifiers such as sodium lauryl sulfate, and polyethylene glycols which are hormone disruptors and can cause irritation and disrupt the skin barrier.    

Final Thoughts

I was not aware that lard and tallow provided vitamin D to our skin to treat not only dry skin but other issues such as acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. We think nothing of buying a vitamin D cream from a pharmaceutical company that has artificial ingredients in it, and yet many would wrinkle their noses by rubbing animal fat on their skin.

There is a movement to incorporate time honored traditions that served humankind well for thousands of years so I included two videos that might be of interest to you.  The first is how to render fat, and the second is how to make your own skin cream from the fat you rendered.  

Of course, you can also look to online sources to order it from someone who has done the process themselves. 

Some interesting videos from Katie Krejci, The Homesteading RD:

How to render fat

making skin cream from tallow

Posted by: Dr. Goldstein AT 01:38 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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