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Lanolin (German, from Latin lāna, "wool", and oleum, "oil") also called Adeps Lanae, wool wax, wool fat, anhydrous wool fat or wool grease, is a greasy yellow substance secreted by the sebaceous glands of wool-bearing animals, with the vast majority of it used by humans coming from domestic sheep. Chemically akin to wax, it can be used as a skin ointment or water-proofing wax, and is also sometimes used as a raw material in the manufacture of such products as shoe polish. Lanolin's water proofing property aids sheep in shedding water from their coats. Certain breeds of sheep produce large amounts of lanolin, and the extraction can be performed by squeezing the sheep's harvested wool between rollers. Most or all of the lanolin is removed from wool when it is processed into textiles, such as yarn or felt.

How to Extract Lanolin from Sheep's Wool

Sheep's wool contains lanolin as a form of protection against nature and insects. Human use of lanolin is as old as the use of wool. Extracting it is easy to do at home and is a great way to get lanolin that is pure, free of industrial chemicals and ready for use in homemade products.

Steps

Obtain raw wool pieces or fleece that has not been washed. Raw wool or fleece can be purchased direct from a sheep farm, or, if you have your own sheep, use your own fleece.

Fill a pot with water until full. The pot should be large enough to contain all the wool. It might be easier to do this outdoors over an open fire if you have a large amount of fleece.

Put the raw wool into the pan or pot. Push the wool into the water gently. Pieces of wool can be placed in mesh laundry bags to prevent them from breaking apart.

Add 1 - 3 tablespoons of salt to the water.

Bring the water to boil. Keep the wool boiling over a period of several hours. During this time, keep an eye on the boiling water and add more water as it evaporates off. Do not leave unattended as the water could boil off and burn the wool.

Clean and waterproof an area to place the wool.

Remove the wool from the boiling water. Do this using a pair of tongs or large slotted spoons.

Keep the water boiling until all the water evaporates off. The remaining substance is lanolin.

Pour the lanolin through a cheese-cloth. This will remove any impurities. Pour it into a bowl and leave to cool. Once cooled, scrape off the lanolin and place into sterilized jars. The lanolin is ready to use.

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