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A hard fat obtained from animals, especially beef (stearin; Bos taurus) and sheep (suet; Ovis aries). Tallow is separated by moisture and fibrous tissue by melting and cooling. primarily contain the following fatty acids (average %): Oleic acid (37-43%), Palmitic acid (24-32%), Stearic acid (20-25%), Linoleic acid (2-3%) and myristic acid (3-6%). Oleo stock refers to the highest grade of beef tallow or stearin. Tallow is used in leather dressing and in the manufacture of soaps, lubricants, candles, and food.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Talg (Deut.); sebo (Esp.); oleo stock; stearin; suet; animal fat

Physical and Chemical Properties

Melting points for various tallows:

  • horse (20-45 C)
  • beef (27-38 C)
  • mutton (32-41 C)

Iodine value = 40 (mutton), 49.5 beef)

Saponification value = 194 (mutton), 197 (beef)

Density 0.86-0.94 g/ml
Refractive Index 1.4565

Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 796
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • R.D. Harley, Artists' Pigments c. 1600-1835, Butterworth Scientific, London, 1982 Comment: 40-45 (mutton); 35-40 (beef)
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 9211; density =0.86
  • Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technologies, Paul Nicholson, Ian Shaw (eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000 Comment: M.Serpico, R.White, "Oil, fat and wax"
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=0.94; ref. index = 1.4565
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998