General Question

cazzie's avatar

Making soap from animal fat?

Asked by cazzie (24513points) March 18th, 2010

Animal rights people need not answer…
Where I live, there is a species of seal that has to have it’s numbers culled. Currently, hunters tend to leave the fat to the sea birds, but I want to go back to the old practice of using it in soap. I don’t like the idea of having to kill the animals, but as they have to be killed, I don’t think anything should go to waste.
Anyone in Canada or Nordic countries remember this being done or have access to books or info about the saponifcation numbers for seal fat.. in specific, Storkobbe (Erignathus barbatus).
Again… I’m sorry for the gross-out, but I study ancient methods and they don’t always fit our modern sensibilities.

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19 Answers

FutureMemory's avatar

Animal rights people need not answer…

Good luck with that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Animal rights people need not answer
Then who will answer?

Jude's avatar

@FutureMemory yeah, I was just going to say, @cazzie is going to have a rough go with this one. Yikes.

I wouldn’t touch this question nor the seal fat with a ten foot pole. All of it is wrong.

El_Cadejo's avatar

again on the animal rights thing. I dont see why they would have a problem with what you’re doing. You are at least putting this animal to a use. Its not like your going out clubbin seals for the hell of it. The species needs culling and you dont want to waste. I commend that.

cazzie's avatar

@uberbatman Thanks for understanding. I was trying to be apologetic when I phrased my question.
@jimah,... but yet, you did.
I didn’t ask this to debate the right or wrong of the culling of the seals. It’s being done. I don’t like it. But what I also dislike is that they’re throwing away a resource that was once put to good, practical use, and THAT I can actually do something about. So… if the ‘well-meaners’ are going to make this impossible.. I’ll delete the question and ask it in a language where people understand the problem.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I hope you get an answer to this

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@cazzie you continue to sound obnoxious if you put quoatiation marks like that everywhere

cazzie's avatar

@Simone De Beauvoir everywhere? I couldn’t think of the English word so I sort of made one up. Was putting one made up word in quotations wrong and obnoxious? I think this topic sounds obnoxious to you and I was trying to apologise and warn people about it and not sound obnoxious. Can I apologise again? If you don’t like this topic, flag it and lets let the mods sort it out.

Arp's avatar

I think most people frown upon “Cleaning” themselves with the insides of animals. Sponges are an exception I suppose, but those are usually artificial anyway.

P.S. I think this is a perfectly valid question, you just started off on the wrong foot with the whole “Animal Rights People” thing…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@cazzie I wouldn’t flag it if you didn’t put your initial disclaimer making this sound as if we’re the devil

cazzie's avatar

@ Arp I was trying to warn them to not read the question. I guess I should have phrased it nicer.
What most people don’t know is that they are probably cleaning themselves with the insides of animals all the time. Ingredients listed as sodium tallowate and sodium stearate are just fancy ways soap companies like Lux, Dove, Dial, etc list soap made from animal fat.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@cazzie I agree with you in that many people aren’t aware what’s in their cleaning products but people are animal rights activists even when they’re meat eaters and if that doesn’t seem contradictory to them, why would soap from animal fat.

escapedone7's avatar

I have seen soap recipes that called for lard. I suppose just using any such recipe and substituting melted fat for the lard would be the same thing.

cazzie's avatar

@Simone De Beauvior I was replying to Arp comment, not discussing what animal rights activists do or don’t do.

@escapedone7 I think that will be a good starting point but every fat has a specific saponification number. Animal fats are different from each other and I think seal fat is much different from pork or beef fat. Even vegetable oils and fats are different. The amount of lye required to saponify 1kg of olive oil is different from the amount required to saponify 1kg of coconut, or lard or suet etc.

I’ve been making soap (all veg and most are vegan friendly) for over 5 years now, but I’ve been asked about using the normally wasted seal fat and from what I’ve read it’s fat has quite a different make up of fatty acids, but I can’t find any specifics about making soap with it. I’ll try more specialised websites, I think.

Trillian's avatar

@cazzie I make soap too. I like to use coconut oil. I don’t know as much about animal fats because I use that or other oils, but the saponification number is correct. I wonder if this is a viable option. I personally wouldn’t want to have the task of fat removal from any animal.

thriftymaid's avatar

Soap is better for our skin if made from vegetable oil; I only use soap made from coconut oil and has not lost its glycerin during saponification.

Seek's avatar


I am in full support of you and your efforts. I only wish I could be there to experiment with you! Soapmaking has long been something I’ve wanted to get into, but I can’t seem to find anyone willing to teach me to work with lard and tallow – it’s become far too PC to stick with only glycerin and vegetable oils. ~sigh~

Anyway, here are some resources I’ve read through a couple of times:

cazzie's avatar

I found it in a food technology text book. For anyone who wants to know, here it is.
Fatty Acid content of Seal oil.
14:0 4 (Myristic)
16:0 7 (Palmic)
16:1 16
18:0 1 (Stearic)
18:1 28 (Oleic)
18:2 1 (Linoleic)
20:1 12 (Arachidic)
20:5 5
22:1 7 (Erucic)
22:5 3
22:6 6

I need to study about unsaponifiables a bit more but I think this will be manageable now that I know how high it is in Oleic acids. It’s more like Olive Oil than anything else, as far as it’s saponification goes, I think, so all the assumptions about it being like lard were incorrect, as demonstrated by it’s Stearic acid content.

Anyone who studies essential fatty acids in dietary needs, you’ll notice that it is high in arachidic acid.

Thanks to everyone who looked up stuff and helped!

talljasperman's avatar

they did it in “Fight Club” they used lyposuction fat from a clinic

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