While washing a Border Leicester fleece yesterday with my friend Sue she asked "how do we separate the lanolin to use in bath and beauty products..." Good question Sue! I had no idea besides that it came off in the washing process. So today I researched it! I found a few good websites with directions.
For those who are unfamiliar, lanolin is also refereed to as wool wax or wool grease. It is a yellow waxy substance secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals. Lanolin is used in most of the beauty products we use daily.
Lanolin has a waterproofing property that aids sheep in shedding water from their coats. It also has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties that protect the sheep's skin from infection.
I find that you can see the lanolin best on a white fleeced animal but you can sure feel it in most wools!
Step one- Fill a large pot with hot water (pot should be large enough to fit your wool)
Step two- Put the raw wool in a laundry bag and place in pot
Step three- Add salt (1-3 tablespoons)
Step four- Bring water to a steady boil for a few hours. Do not leave wool unattended. Add water as needed.
Step five- Remove wool from water and place in a container to dry. (Water is very hot so do this with gloves and tongs)
Step six- Continue to boil water until it all evaporates. What is left is the lanolin!
Step seven- Pour the leftover lanolin though cheese cloth or muslin. This will remove dirt and debris.
Step eight- Allow lanolin to cool then jar!
I am very excited to start collecting my own lanolin since I don't like anything to go to waste! I even use the skirted fiber for mulch in my garden and the birds love it!
This is a picture of the Border Leicester we worked on all clean: