So before I tell you about this paw balm, you should know a couple of things.
1) It also doubles as an amazing facial moisturizer, body lotion and diaper rash cream.
2) Although it isn't plant based, it is definitely sustainable, healthy and worth it. Hear me out.
The main ingredient in this soft, creamy (not greasy) super hydrating skin balm is tallow. If you've never heard of tallow, it's something humans have been using on their skin for centuries, but more recently, with growing interest in regenerative agricultural and sustainable practices, it's made a comeback.
So, what is tallow? Are you ready?... It's rendered and purified beef fat. I KNOW I KNOW. You're probably dry heaving at your computer, but trust me when I tell you that being able to eat your skincare is a good rule of thumb for figuring out what is healthy to use and what may be quietly poisoning you and your fur baby (cue synthetics, perfumes, industrial seed oils and chemicals).
I remember the days when I wouldn't have even considered tallow and would have blindly used Bath and Body works cream all over my body without a second thought. Ironically, one is sustainable, completely natural, deeply moisturizing and actually contains potent nutritive benefits (especially when it's grass fed and finished) and the other is made of a host of cotton candy scented endocrine disruptors and other carcinogenic ingredients.
Before I give you the recipe for this tallow based balm though, I want to preface with a bit of a disclaimer. I truly believe that whenever we consume or absorb an animal product, we should do so with the utmost care. Researching and considering the source is incredibly important in order to honour this process.
Because tallow is becoming trendy, I think it's integral to make it yourself (so you can control the quality of the actual fat, ensure it's properly purified so no nutrients are lost, and to make it super affordable)! So, how do we do this?
Well, before tallow is tallow, it's something called suet. Suet is the raw hard fat that surrounds beef or sheep kidneys and tallow is simply suet in its melted form. Due to recent years research pushing us towards plant based oils and away from animal based cooking fats like suet and tallow, often times it's just discarded. This is why it's not only cheap to purchase, but it's a sustainable choice for skincare (and no gross plastic bottles). You can procure suet from your butcher for practically nothing. I got a pound of grass fed and finished suet last week for $3. THREE DOLLARS. Eat that Sephora.
And with that, I give you the recipe for my tallow based nourishing paw balm.
1lb of grass fed and finished suet
4 cups of water
2 tbsps of quality sea salt
1/2 cup of cold pressed olive oil
25 drops of pure lavender oil (or other dog safe essential oil)
25 drops of pure clary sage oil (or other dog safe essential oil)
Before purchasing your suet, ask the butcher to grind it for you. Dump the suet into a large pot on low heat (as low as possible) or into your slow cooker on low, if you have one. Add salt and water and remember the name of the game is looooow and slooooow.
The tallow should take about 2 1/2 hours on the stove (stir every 30 minutes) and 4-6 hours in the slow cooker (stir every hour). You'll know it's done when you can see a clear distinction between brown crispy pieces of fat (otherwise known as crackling) and golden liquid.
Once the tallow's ready, pour it through a cheese cloth into a mixing bowl. Let it cool and harden until it looks more like wax. Then pop it out by flipping it onto a cutting board. You'll see a brown film on the bottom. The salt has extracted any impurities and you can simply just scrape them off. Then rinse out your pot or slow cooker and add the tallow back with the same amount of water and salt as before. This time cook on low for 30 minutes on the stove or in the slow cooker for an hour. Repeat the process of pouring the mixture into a clean mixing bowl through a cheese cloth and leaving to harden. Flip and scrape any remaining impurities on the bottom (there should be much less than the first time around). Once this is done your tallow should be purified. You can choose to do this purification process one more time, but if you're buying quality suet, rendering once and purifying once should be sufficient.
Then melt the tallow one last time, take off heat until slightly cooled, add olive oil and essential oils, mix and pour into a mason jar (or any recycled glass jar with a clean lid). Leave on the counter to cool and harden and either leave as is, or whip with a hand mixer for a whipped balm look and consistency.
You now have a completely shelf stable, nutrient dense, sustainable, super hydrating paw balm (that you can also use) for $3 and a little bit of elbow grease (no pun intended).
So, what do you think? You gonna try to wrap your head around moisturizing with tallow?