AskDefine | Define tallow

Dictionary Definition

tallow n : obtained from suet and used in making soap, candles and lubricants

User Contributed Dictionary



taluh, talugh; akin to Old Dutch talgh (Dutch talg), German, Danish and Swedish talg, Icelandic tlgr, tlg, tlk, and perhaps to Gothic tulgus.



  1. a hard animal fat obtained from suet etc.; used to make candles, soap and lubricants


hard animal fat obtained
  • Bosnian: loj
  • Croatian: loj
  • Finnish: tali
  • Norwegian: talg
  • Serbian: loj

Extensive Definition

Tallow is a rendered form of beef or mutton fat, processed from suet. It is solid at room temperature. Unlike suet, tallow can be stored for extended periods without the need for refrigeration to prevent decomposition, provided it is kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation.
Rendered fat obtained from pigs is known as lard.


It is used in animal feed, to make soap, for cooking, and as a bird food. It can be used as a raw material for the production of biodiesel and other oleochemicals. Historically, it was used to make tallow candles, which were a cheaper alternative to wax candles.
Industrially, tallow is not strictly defined as beef or mutton fat. In this context, tallow is animal fat that conforms to certain technical criteria, including its melting point, which is also known as titre. It is common for commercial tallow to contain fat derived from other animals, such as pigs.
Amid concerns in the 1990s over high cholesterol content, and concern from Hindus (many of whom do not consume food derived from beef) and vegetarians of inadequate labelling, McDonald's french fries were cooked in a mixture 93% beef tallow and 7% cottonseed oil.
Tallow is used in the steel rolling industry to provide the required lubrication as the sheet steel is compressed through the steel rollers. There is a trend towards replacing tallow based lubrication with synthetic oils in rolling applications for surface cleanliness reasons.
Tallow can also be used as flux for soldering.


The composition of the fatty acids is typically as follows:


tallow in Breton: Soav
tallow in German: Talg
tallow in Esperanto: Sebo
tallow in French: Suif
tallow in Icelandic: Tólg
tallow in Italian: Sego
tallow in Dutch: Talg (dierlijk)
tallow in Japanese: ヘット
tallow in Norwegian: Talg
tallow in Norwegian Nynorsk: Talg
tallow in Polish: Łój
tallow in Swedish: Talg
tallow in Chinese: 牛脂

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

animal oil, cerate, drying oil, essential oil, ester, fat, fatty oil, fixed oil, grease, hydrogenated fat, lipid, mineral oil, oil, oleum, polyunsaturated fat, sebum, unsaturated fat, vegetable oil, volatile oil
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