Beef Tallow Uses, Storage, & Practical Tips For Preppers

Beef tallow is a useful survival item for its many practical applications. Tallow can be obtained from any animal fat, but the quality is best when extracted from cows.

Beef tallow can be used in cooking, candle-making, skincare, health, lubrication, soap-making, and more. It can be stored indefinitely for as long as it is placed in airtight containers and kept away from heat or moisture.

Beef tallow is relatively easy to prepare. Its main ingredient is the suet from cows and you can render the fat to form tallow in your own home.

Beef Tallow Uses, Storage & Preparation

What Is Beef Tallow?

Beef tallow is a rendered form of cow or mutton fat. It’s largely made of triglycerides which makes it solid at room temperature. It’s a survival staple because of its long shelf life and wide range of survival uses. There’s no need to refrigerate it to avoid spoilage. All you need to do is to store it in an airtight container and it’ll last indefinitely.

Tallow can be technically harvested from all animals, but the best quality comes from naturally grazing animals, like cows. The best tallow is also extracted from animal suet, which refers to the fat that surrounds each internal organ. The suet is extracted and heated which makes it release a liquid gold oil. This oil is washed in boiling water, purified, and filtered. Once it is rid of impurities, it’s ready to use for different survival purposes.

How To Prepare And Render Beef Tallow

The first step is to gather a sufficient amount of beef fat. It’s advisable to gather beef fat from around the kidneys and to harvest them from grass-fed cows. The quality declines when the tallow comes from cows that eat synthetic foods. Freeze the beef fat just long enough to let it harden a bit so that you can grate it in the food processor. Another option is to chop up the beef fat until it turns into small pieces.

Place the cuts in a small pot or pan and then put them over a low fire. This will render the fat. It’s important to cook low and slow to avoid burning the fat. Five pounds of fat will take about 6 to 7 hours to render. You’ll know the rendering process is done when the bits of meat and fat turn brown and crispy. It’s also normal for your cooking space to smell like oil and fat. The smell may be unpleasant and suffocating to some which is why it’s recommended to do this in a sheltered area outdoors or to at least ensure that there’s proper ventilation. It’s also important to do this in a separate room from your clothes, couch, and other furniture so that they won’t absorb the smell.

The last step is to filter and purify the oil. Do this by letting the oil pass through a mesh panel to trap the crispy bits. You may use a mesh strainer, cheesecloth, flour sack, paper towel, or any other filter. Remember to wear oven mitts and other protective gear so that you won’t accidentally burn yourself. You’ll be left with a nice yellow-colored oil. Allow this to cool overnight until it hardens into a white wax.

How To Store Beef Tallow For Long-Term

glasses of fat

The reason why beef tallow is a survival staple is because of its long shelf life. There’s no need to refrigerate the wax. Simply store the wax in airtight containers to avoid oxidization and decomposition. Another option is to pour the tallow into ice cube trays, allow them to solidify, and then store the cubes in Ziploc bags.

When stored at room temperature, beef tallow has a 12-month shelf life. However, when refrigerated, it can last up to 12 to 18 months and over 2 years when kept in a freezer.

Top 7 Uses Of Beef Tallow


Beef fat, and by extension, beef tallow contains saturated and unsaturated fats. Saturated fat is less healthy than unsaturated fat, but as long as it’s consumed in moderation, paired with a healthy diet and an active lifestyle, then there’s little need for concern over it.

In baking, beef tallow can be used as a substitute for butter. Aside from its unique flavor, it’s also filled with essential vitamins and nutrients like niacin, vitamins K2, B6, B12, iron, potassium, selenium, phosphorus, and riboflavin. Other tallows that come from naturally grazing animals contain high levels of conjugated linoleic acid which is an excellent component for combating cancer and other carcinogens.

Beef tallow is excellent for deep-frying because it has a high smoking point that’s equivalent to canola oil at 400°F (205°C). It means that the oil won’t burn easily and can withstand sustained cooking.

Beef tallow has become popular for smoking meat, especially beef brisket. It adds a distinct sheen to the surface without compromising the bark and adds richness. Texas-based Pitmasters have even gone to the extent of adding tallow to their firebox – the result is a distinct hamburger note.


Beef tallow is a good and cheaper alternative to wax candles. They last very long and they don’t burn easily. You can pour some tallow into a bottle cap, place a cotton wick at the middle, and allow it to dry into a candle. The cotton wick may be dipped once in tallow to protect it from moisture and to make it burn longer. You can also use larger containers like mason jars so that you’ll have longer-lasting candles. Another option is to mix the tallow with wax-like beeswax and sap to improve its consistency. Include some drops of essential oils to improve the scent.

Other survivalists also use a tallow drip which is a strip of cloth that is submerged in tallow. The end is lit and it’s like an alcohol lamp.


skin care

Skincare is a luxury during emergencies, and if you no longer have a supply of the drugstore products that keep your skin sane, you can use beef tallow. Take a tiny amount and apply it to dry patches on your skin to use it as a moisturizer. This is helpful if you live in a cold area and to prevent dried or cracked skin. Other women may use it as an oil-based makeup remover. It can effectively dissolve waterproof makeup. Men may use it as a beard oil substitute to groom their facial hair and to keep the skin underneath feeling smooth and moisturized.

Beef tallow can be applied to exposed skin to provide a protective barrier. It keeps your skin moist while protecting it from the harsh rays of the sun, it’s also useful to protect the skin against chapping and wind rashes if you live in a cold area.

Lastly, beef tallow can be used as a healing salve for different skin issues. It can be used to soothe burn marks, skin rashes, and any other itchiness or irritation. A thin layer can also be applied to the feet and ankles to prevent bruising and the formation of blisters. This is helpful when you need to evacuate and there are no available transportation options which means that you’ll have to walk.


Tallow has been used by people suffering from eczema. The fat soluble-vitamins may help with alleviating redness, inflammation, and irritation of the skin. Additionally, the oil keeps the skin from cracking and scaling.

Beef tallow is said to help relieve the itchiness experienced by birthing and pregnant moms. Regularly applying it can also help prevent the appearance of stretch marks by keeping the skin smooth, soft, and moisturized.

Another use for beef tallow is as a substitute for massage oil. You can use it to lather over the different areas of the body to relax stiff and tense muscles.


Beef tallow may be used to oil different items. You can use it to oil rifles and muskets because it’s an excellent gun grease. You may apply a few drops to any engine that needs lubrication, like motorbikes or cars. It’s biodegradable and it doesn’t cause corrosion so any metallic surface will be completely safe. It also keeps all the parts moving smoothly so that they can function properly. Other woodworkers also lubricate their screws and brass fittings to prevent these from getting corroded and to allow them to smoothly fit into the wooden creations.

Another good use of beef tallow is to apply a light layers of it on self-defense items and weapons like blades, axes, hatchets, and swords. The thin layer of beef tallow is enough to keep the blade from getting corroded.

You can also apply beef tallow on any genuine leather material because it can be used as a leather conditioner. It can also be processed and turned into a form of biodiesel.

Making Soap

tallow soap

In survival situations, it’s still important to maintain your cleanliness and proper hygiene. Stores may be closed and you might be unable to barter for soap which is why it’s useful to know how to make soap with beef tallow. You can use the DIY soap to clean yourself or to wash your laundry.

Beef tallow soap is strong, hard, and it suds nicely. Melt 30 ounces of tallow in a pot over low heat. Mix in 3.88 ounces of 100% pure lye with 11 ounces of distilled water. It’s important to pour the lye in water and not the other way around because pouring water into the lye will cause an eruptive reaction. Allow the lye to dissolve in the water for a while. The mixture can get very hot so be careful. The heat is due to an exothermic chemical reaction as the lye gets activated in the water.

Pour the lye-water mixture into the pot with the melted tallow. Continue mixing for an hour until you arrive with a homogenous mixture. If you want to save some time, use an immersion blender. You’ll know it’s finished when you reach trace, which is when the mixture turns into something like a pudding. It should hold its shape when you scoop it. You can reach this consistency in 3 to 10 minutes when you use an immersion blender.

Transfer the pudding-like mixture to a pot and continue to cook on low heat for 45 to 60 minutes. There will be bubbling and frothing but that’s normal. Do the “zap” test which is when you touch your tongue to the cooled mixture. If it lightly stings, then there’s still lye. Continue cooking until it passes the zap test. Allow the soap to harden in whichever shape you want. Store in airtight plastic bags and place in a cool, dry place.

Other Uses

dripping fat

Beef tallow can be transformed into an organic camo body paint. Simply mix in a few drops of green and brown food coloring or dye to form the shades that mimic your surroundings. This will help you camouflage yourself better so that you can hunt for game in the forest.

Another popular usage for beef tallow is head lice treatment. Mix one part of beef tallow with two parts of apple cider vinegar. Massage it into the scalp and leave it on for a few minutes. One can expect the head lice to crawl out or get trapped by the tallow and suffocate in the scalp. Wash thoroughly to get rid of dead head lice.

Beef tallow is widely used as a cooking oil substitute or a healthier alternative, but it can also become the food itself. Beef tallow can be boiled to make a delicious bone broth. This soup can keep you feeling full while providing you with a myriad of vitamins and nutrients.

Beef tallow can also be rubbed on kindling. This traps the moisture in the wooden blocks and makes them more flammable. In this way, the kindling makes the fire burn stronger and lasts longer.

Chris Green

Chris has always had an adventurous soul, and his love for the outdoors eventually led him to become a professional life skills advisor. He explains a multitude of different topics ranging from disaster preparedness and wilderness survival to self-sufficiency.

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