Why do crayons smell so good and what are they made of?

Have you ever wondered what stores do with beef that’s past its freshness date?

It’s sold off to various manufacturers who render the fat (called tallow) and put it into all kinds of products, from hair conditioner to—you guessed it—crayons. The fat is often called “free fatty acid” or “stearic acid” on labels. That obviously sounds more appealing to manufacturers (and consumers) than “beef fat.”

Other products made with beef byproducts include asphalt, explosives, lipstick, photographic film, shampoo, detergents, fabric softener, and candles, to name just a few.

If you have an ethical problem with meat byproducts being in your child’s drawing utensils, you can purchase crayons made of beeswax or vegetable products, such as soybean oil.