Tall oil is a product of the paper and pulping industry. Crude tall oil is the major byproduct of the kraft or sulfate processing of pinewood. Crude tall oil starts as tall oil soap which is separated from recovered black liquor in the kraft pulping process. The tall oil soap is acidified to yield crude tall oil. The resulting tall oil is then fractionated to produce fatty acids, rosin, and pitch. Crude tall oil contains 40-50 percent fatty acids such as oleic and linoleic acids; 5-10 percent sterols, alcohols, and other neutral components. The demand is for the tall oil rosin and fatty acids which are used to produce adhesives, coatings, and ink resins. The products find use in lubricants, soaps, linoleum, flotation and waterproofing agents, paints, varnishes, and drying oils.
Since tall oil and its production are derived from the paper and pulping industry, the amount of tall oil produced is related in part to the pulp industry and in part to the U.S. economy.
U.S. production of crude tall oil in January 2001 was reported by the U.S,. Department of Commerce to be 94.7 million pounds, down 7 percent from the year before. In recent years, U.S. production of crude tall oil has averaged 1.33 billion pounds. U.S. consumption of tall oil in inedible products in 2000 was 1.15 billion pounds. In recent years annual consumption has averaged 1.19 billion pounds. U.S. stocks of crude tall oil in February 2001 were 113.2 million pounds, down 14 percent from a year earlier. Refined tall oil stocks in February 2001 were 10.6 million pounds, up 8 percent from a year earlier.