Friends Jess and Emma share a smallholding where among other things they raise rare breed, organic pigs and now, their lard and tallow soap.
Both hate waste and agree that if the pig is to be killed for meat then they must respect the animal and use as much of it as possible, often referred to as nose to tail eating. They have become expert sausage and black pudding makers but struggled to find a use for all the fat. As Emma says there is only so much chorizo and salami you can eat. Ordinarily waste lard (pig fat) and tallow (cow fat) is incinerated and Emma and Jess were determined to come up with a way of using this waste. And so Hog & Tallow was born.
Hog and Tallow make handmade soaps the traditional way using lard and tallow mixed with local rapeseed oil. The lard and tallow soap is amazingly good for the skin as its very close to the fat found under human skin and the rapeseed adds masses of vitamin E and Omega 3. A lot of research has gone into getting the recipes just right and to get the right balance of hard and soft fats to make a solid soap.
Their ethics dont stop at using waste fats. Emma and Jess are intent on producing a sustainable product with a small carbon footprint. Other ingredients are mainly sourced from the West Country and include waste from cottage industries such as waste ale from local breweries and raw milk from local farms. Many of the botanical ingredients are foraged by themselves such as lavender, calendula and fennel. Jess’s day job is as a head gardener so she knows a thing or two about plants and their properties!
In a world full of chemically heavy cosmetics full of damaging components like microbeads, it is important to Hog & Tallow (and the rest of us) that all the ingredients are all natural. There are no artificial colours or scents and none of the nasty parabens found in many soaps. The labels are printed on 100% recycled paper and each one is hand sewn using waste thread- they are completely committed to no-waste!
Hog & Tallow’s current lard and tallow soap range includes some fabulous names:
Pig In The Bath– scented with lavender essential oil
Dirty Gurty– scented with geranium essential oil
Weaner Cleaner– cold smoked and scented with sweet orange oil
Old Spot – scented with tea tree oil
Udder Non-scents– made with local raw milk, their own honey and beeswax
They also make these in smaller soaps for wedding favours and B&Bs.
New products on the horizon include making animal fat candles, a goat’s milk-based soap from a local dairy, working with locally foraged seaweed, and a new product felting some soaps with locally sheared wool – obviously this will be called ‘Pigs in Blankets’.
The women behind Hog & Tallow may add a sense of fun with their product names but rest assured, this is no gimmick product. The soaps are beautifully packaged and gorgeous to use.
And for those of you with a curious mind like me, I asked Emma how many bars of soap you can get out of one pig- 700g of tallow and lard makes 16 soaps, from a bi-product that would otherwise be incinerated.
To find out more about Hog & Tallow lard and tallow soap products check out their Etsy site – hogandtallowsoaps. Alternatively see them in action at the Toby Buckland Garden Festival at Forde Abbey in Somerset on the 16th-17th September 2017.
About the Author: Claire Reid is head gardener at the world-class Hestercombe Gardens, as well as a gardening writer, consultant and founder of Grow For Syria, helping to raise money and awareness for refugees through horticultural projects. Follow her on Instagram @growforsyria.