How to Make Tallow Candles

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Tallow is made from the fat surrounding a cow's kidneys.
Tallow is made from the fat surrounding a cow's kidneys. (Image: Driftwood/iStock/Getty Images)

Making tallow candles is a great way to combine historic crafting with contemporary practicality, as the candles are useful during power outages. While you can purchase ready-to-use tallow, you can also render it yourself by a simple -- though somewhat time-consuming -- process.

Things You'll Need

  • Beef suet
  • Double-boiler saucepan or large stockpot
  • Wooden spoon
  • Essential oils (optional)
  • Candle coloring (optional)
  • Cooking spray
  • Wicks
  • Molds

Chop the suet into small pieces by hand.

Place the suet into the top of a double boiler or in a stockpot.

Melt the suet slowly over low heat for five to six hours, until a clear liquid forms at the bottom of the pan and impurities float to the top.

Add coloring and scented oils, if desired.

Strain the fat through cheesecloth.

Spray the inside of the mold thoroughly with cooking spray.

Wrap one end of the wick around a pencil or skewer and lay it across the top of the mold, placing the rest of the wick inside the mold.

Pour the tallow slowly into the greased mold. Allow it to set until cooled and solid.

Remove from the mold.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you don’t have a double boiler, place a cleaned metal coffee can in a saucepan. Fill the saucepan about halfway and place the suet in the coffee can.
  • Instead of poured candles, you can make traditional dipped candles. Dip the wick into the tallow and pull it out. Allow it to cool slightly and then dip it again. Repeat the process until your candle reaches the desired thickness.
  • Replace expensive commercial candle molds with empty vegetable or fruit cans.
  • Do not leave the suet or tallow unattended, as it is flammable.
  • If you use a food processor to break down the suet, stop when the fat is very coarsely ground to avoid an unworkable "glop" that will not process well.

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