Mineral Oil and its Many Uses

Mineral oil is a common byproduct of the petroleum industry and is produced in the refinement process of crude oil into its refined forms such as gasoline, diesel, and kerosene; to name a few. Mineral oil is closely related to petroleum jelly which is also produced as a byproduct of the crude oil refinement process. It is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless liquid that has hydrophobic qualities much like many other hydrocarbons derived from crude oil. The large volume of mineral oil produced from the refinement of petroleum products has been utilized in many different industries for a myriad of different applications due to its special hydrophobic properties.

Cosmetics

Mineral Oil is mostly found in ointment, baby skin products and cold creams for cosmetic uses. It’s most well known as baby oil that is used by many mothers to treat diaper rashes. Another great use of petroleum oil is for removing temporary tattoos that have passed their prime; this liquid is perfect for painlessly removing the layer of material that once comprised a removable tattoo. Women will often also use mineral oil as a treatment to their eyelashes to keep the long strands from cracking and breaking.

Preservatives

Due to the fact that mineral oil does not absorb any atmospheric moisture it is often found in applications in which it is used to protect alkali metals such as lithium. A pure solution of mineral oil is often used to submerge alkali metals for storage to keep them from oxidizing or otherwise reacting with the water molecules in the air. Metal tools and weapons such as knives and wrenches are often coated in the oil to keep them from rusting through oxidation; it also keeps water off of the surfaces due to its hydrophobic properties. Leather products are often conditioned with mineral oil to add some elasticity to them and allow them to be more manageable, a popular use is for baseball players breaking in a brand new mitt. Carpenters also find a good use of mineral oil as a light coating on well sanded wood as a sealant to give a finished look to it.

Medicine

Mineral oil is found in several products used for internal and external therapeutic solutions. It is often prescribed as an orally ingested lubricating laxative which alleviates the pain and discomfort of those suffering from painful bowel movements due to constipation or hemorrhoids; in this case it is most regularly ingested before sleeping. This will then coat the bowels with a hydrophobic layer that keeps the bowels moist and slick making bowel movements smoother. One should be advised to use mineral oil in moderation for this application as it will often prevent the absorption of certain essential vitamins and minerals and may result in malnourishment. Externally mineral Oil is often applied topically onto rashes as mothers do to diaper rashes on their babies’ posteriors. Extremely pure mineral oil is also often used in cellular applications such as In Vitro Fertilization where it can be used to suspend several oocytes and embryos on a single Petri dish whilst still being able to be worked on and observed separately.

Industrial Uses

There are various industrial uses for mineral oil due to its hydrophobic properties as well as its relatively low price. It is often used as a non-conductive thermal fluid in electrical components this is due to its ability to displace water as well as air and has completely non-conducting properties. Hydraulic machinery is operated with the use of mineral oil due to its incompressible nature as well as its properties that keep it from expanding in the presence of heat. In many industries light mineral oil is used as a lubricant in small moving parts such as in the textile industry.

Cleaning

Mineral oil is a miraculous oil stain remover, it dilutes and liquefies the other oils and allows detergents to better do their job in removing the stains Although on its own it is not a stain remover, it is an extremely effective catalyst that can remove the most ardent oil stains. The residue often left by price tags and other stickers on various surfaces can be easily removed with the application of mineral oil. Guitar players often use the oil to clean their strings as the oil frees dirt and other oils without oxidizing the strings.

Fire Performance

Whenever you see talented show stopping fire breathers that taunt the naked flame it’s good to know that they can find protection from the dangerous heat as well as the flame with the use of mineral oil. Due to the low flashpoint and burning temperature of mineral oil as well as the fact that it does not burn as a liquid provides levels of safety to those who perform with fire while suspending reality with the look of a red hot flame.

One comment

  1. Did you know that mineral oil is a key ingredient in many skin care creams and cosmetic products? It may be surprising to find out that your favorite cream is based on petroleum! It sounds bad for your skin for sure, but is it really?

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