What is Lanolin and how is it used?

What is Lanolin and how is it used?

Being a wool processing mill, we are all too familiar with lanolin and its properties. That’s a fascinating part about wool, it has so many versatile and technical benefits and the sheep are who to thank for it.

Jar of wool grease

A jar of unrefined wool grease (once purified, it becomes lanolin)

What is lanolin?

Lanolin is a precious oil secretion from sheep’s skin that is trapped in the wool. This oil helps to protect and nourish the sheep from extreme climates and environments. For example, lanolin has waterproofing properties, aiding in the shedding of water from their coat. It also helps to protect the wool and skin from extreme climates and environments. It’s a natural moisturizer for the sheep’s skin. Since it becomes trapped in the wool, it stays in the wool after being sheared and can be extracted through centrifugal separation at specialized facilities.

In our eco-friendly process, we wash our wool once it goes into production, called scouring. It goes through several hot bowls of 150 degrees; after each bowl, it's run through a rolling press, squeezing out the grease and oil from the raw wool. While we don’t extract the lanolin to purify and use it, we run the oil-water through our water waste system. We utilize micro-biology to create sludge (microbes use the grease as a food source) to use for compost or other landscaping methods.

Wool being washed

Raw wool being scoured

What’s lanolin used for?

Many companies will use purified lanolin to create personal care products that they can sell. Because of the emollient properties, lanolin is used to make many products such as: baby oil, diaper rash products, lip balm, lotions, skin creams, medicated shampoos, shave creams, and moisturizers for nursing mothers.

We keep some lanolin in the wool that we process, to add a layer of moisturizing properties to the wool and garments we knit. It revitalizes the wool and keeps it fresh and protected!

Interesting Fact – Most people, when they mention they're allergic to wool, are allergic to lanolin within the wool.

Obviously, we’re wool fans and have learned so much about the amazing properties it provides. Lanolin is another fascinating property that occurs naturally and is renewable each year when a sheep grows a new coat of wool.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

You may also like

The Lesson Of The Mittens
Here we are in March, a month that hints of spring out here on the high plains of Wyoming but can’t quite let go of winter.  We’ve had another week of that very thing.  The sun warms us up to...
University of Wyoming Blanket Throw Project
Manufactured by Mountain Meadow Wool Mill in Buffalo, WY, this woolen throw celebrates the sustainable, rugged fabric of the rural west.
Wool, Fire, and Drought
Wool, fire, and drought - how does weather effect our clothing?  Learn about some of the unique ways sheep keep cool and how that effects wool clothing as well.