RENDERING TALLOW OR LARD
Before you can make tallow or lard candles, you must first remove the fat’s impurities. It’s simple to do, but it does take some time.
Obtain fat from any part of the animal. However, leaf fat (fat from around the kidneys) is the hardest and cleanest. Trim off as much tissue, skin and other non-fat particles as you can. This is easier if the fat is almost frozen.
Cut fat into small pieces or toss into a food processor and pulse until it resembles ground meat.
You can either wet or dry render. Dry rendering involves slowly heating the fat in a crockpot, skillet or pot with no water added. The plus side is no concern over water remaining in the finished product that may cause candles to go rancid. The downside is it can scorch easily if you heat it too quickly. Wet rendering is the same as dry rendering, except you add about ¼- to ½-cup water to the pan to prevent burning. If you let the fat render fully, the water will evaporate and won’t pose any rancidity issues. In both methods, slowly heat the fat, stirring periodically. You’ll notice changes as the fat begins to melt. This may take half an hour to several hours, depending on the size of your batch.
Watch and listen for the fat to start hissing and spitting. This is the fat releasing its impurities, water, etc. You’ll see small pieces—sometimes called cracklings—float to the top. Once all of the fat is melted, remove from heat. I like to strain through a cheesecloth-lined colander immediately before the fat begins to cool.
Proceed with candle making at this point, or pour the hot fat into a skillet or cake pan and allow to cool. Once it hardens, pop it out and freeze or leave in refrigerator for later use.