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Mineral oil

Mineral oil
A mineral oil or liquid petroleum is a liquid by-product of the
distillation of petroleum to produce gasoline and other petroleum based
products from crude oil. A mineral oil in this sense is a transparent,
colorless oil composed mainly of alkanes (typically 15 to 40 carbons)
and cyclic paraffins, related to petroleum jelly (also known as "white
petrolatum"). It has a density of around 0.8 g/cm3.[1] Mineral oil is a
substance of relatively low value, and it is produced in very large
quantities. Mineral oil is available in light and heavy grades, and can
often be found in drug stores.
There are three basic classes of refined mineral oils:
paraffinic oils, based on n-alkanes
naphthenic oils, based on cycloalkanes
aromatic oils, based on aromatic hydrocarbons (not to be confused
with essential oils)
Bottle of mineral oil as sold in the U.S.

Due to its low price and ubiquitous supply, mineral oil has been pressed into service in a wide variety of capacities.
Most of these exploit its properties as a low-toxicity, non-reactive general purpose lubricant and coolant, or for
electrical properties.

Potential risks
The application of four popular moisturizers increased the incidence of skin cancer in mice.[2] A fifth moisturizer,
specially prepared without mineral oil and sodium laurel sulphate, had no such effect.[3]
External medical uses
Mineral oil with added fragrance is marketed as baby oil in the US, UK and Canada. While baby oil is primarily
marketed as a generic skin ointment, other applications exist in common use. It is often used on infant diaper rash to
ease the inflammation. Similarly, it may alleviate mild eczema, particularly when the use of corticosteroid creams is
not desirable. Mineral or baby oil can also be employed in small quantities (23 drops daily) to clean inside ears.
Over a period of a few weeks, the mineral oil softens dried or hardened earwax so that a gentle flush of water can
remove the debris. In the case of a damaged or perforated eardrum, however, mineral oil should not be used, as oil in
the middle ear can promote ear infections. Also, if used in hair it may cause dandruff production.
Mineral oil is used as a suspending and levigating agent in sulphur-based ointments. Mineral oil is also used in
obstetrics to lubricate the birth canal and ease the baby's egress.

Mineral oil
Internal medical uses
Mineral oil is taken orally as a lubricative laxative, and is often prescribed to ease the pain of bowel movements for
those who suffer from hemorrhoids and constipation. In Europe the use of mineral oil as laxative is considered
obsolete mainly due to its potentially harmful effects on the lungs if accidentally aspirated. Furthermore, a small
percentage of the oil may be absorbed into internal tissues and cause adverse reactions of the body. In higher
therapeutic dosages loss of bowel control and/or dripping from the rectum has been reported causing temporary stool
incontinence. Mineral oil temporarily coats the intestines and prevents the uptake of certain essential vitamins and
nutrients. Mineral oil is never to be used in conjunction with other stool softeners as it increases the likelihood of
harmful absorption of mineral oil into the body.
Veterinary uses
Certain mineral oils are used in livestock vaccines, as an adjuvant to stimulate a cell-mediated immune response to
the vaccinating agent. In the poultry industry, plain mineral oil can also be swabbed onto the feet of chickens
infected with scaly mites on the shank, toes, and webs. Mineral oil suffocates these tiny parasites. In beekeeping,
food grade mineral oil saturated paper napkins placed in hives are used as a treatment for tracheal and other mites. It
is also used along with a cotton swab to remove un-shed skin on reptiles such as lizards and snakes.

Mineral oil is a common ingredient in baby lotions, cold creams, ointments and cosmetics. It is a lightweight
inexpensive oil that is odorless and tasteless. It can be used on eyelashes to prevent brittleness and breaking and, in
cold cream, is also used to remove creme make-up and temporary tattoos. One of the common concerns regarding
the use of mineral oil is its presence on several lists of comedogenic substances. These lists of comedogenic
substances were developed many years ago and are frequently quoted in the dermatological literature.

Mechanical, electrical and industrial

Mineral oil is used in a variety of industrial/mechanical capacities as a non-conductive coolant or thermal fluid in
electric components as it does not conduct electricity, while simultaneously functioning to displace air and water.
Some examples are in transformers where it is known as transformer oil, and in high voltage switchgear where
mineral oil is used as an insulator and as a coolant to disperse switching arcs.[4] The dielectric constant of mineral oil
ranges from 2.3 at 50 C to 2.3 at 200 C.[5]
Electric space heaters sometimes use mineral oil as a heat transfer oil. Because it is noncompressible, mineral oil is
used as a hydraulic fluid in hydraulic machinery and vehicles. It is also used as a lubricant and a cutting fluid. Light
mineral oil is also used in textile industries and used as a jute batching oil. An often cited limitation of mineral oil is
that it is poorly biodegradable; in some applications, vegetable oils such as cottonseed oil or rapeseed oil may be
used instead.[6]

Since it does not absorb atmospheric moisture, mineral oil is useful as a protective coating or bath for water-sensitive
materials. Alkali metals like lithium are often submerged in mineral oil for storage or transportation.
Mineral oil is also often used as a coating on metal tools and weapons, knives in particular, as a way to inhibit
oxidation. The Japanese Nihonto swords, for example, are traditionally coated in Choji oil which consists of 99%
mineral oil and 1% oil of cloves. The use of oil of cloves is sometimes explained as a means of differentiating sword
oil from cooking oil to prevent accidental ingestion, but may also be purely aesthetic.
Mineral oil can be used as a leather conditioner as well, though most shoe polishes use naphtha, lanolin, turpentine
and Carnauba wax instead.

Mineral oil
It can also be used as a wood preservative. A light coating of mineral oil, rubbed into well-sanded wood, provides an
easy-to-apply and relatively durable finish, without the odor or drying time (or toxicity) of varnish or urethane.

Food preparation
Because of its properties that prevent water absorption, combined with its lack of flavor and odor, food grade
mineral oil, is a popular preservative for wooden cutting boards, salad bowls and utensils. Rubbing a small amount
of mineral oil into a wooden kitchen item periodically will prevent absorption of food odors and ease cleaning, as
well as maintain the integrity of the wood, which is otherwise subjected to repeated wetting and drying in the course
of use. The oil fills small surface cracks that may otherwise harbor bacteria.[7]
It is occasionally used in the food industry, particularly for candy. In this application, it is typically used for the
glossy effect it produces, and to prevent the candy pieces from adhering to each other. It has been discouraged for
use in children's foods, though it is still found in many candies, including Swedish Fish.[8]
It may be added to food products as a substitute for fat or used as a lubricant in enema preparations, because most of
the ingested material is excreted in the stool rather than being absorbed by the body.[9]
It can also be used on cooking utensils, such as wooden cutting boards, or to grease cookware and bakeware to
prevent food from sticking.
The use of food grade mineral oil is self-limiting because of its laxative effect. The maximum daily intake is
calculated to be about 100mg, of which some 80mg are contributed from its use on machines in the baking

Mineral oil can be used to clean heavier oil stains by diluting and liquefying the other oils, rendering the oils more
accessible to detergents. Likewise, it can be employed to "de-gum," to remove adhesive residue left by price tags or
adhesive tape. It can be used as a cleaner and solvent for inks in fine art printmaking as well as in oil painting,
though turpentine is more often used.
Mineral oil is also used in some guitar string cleaners, since it can help mobilize dirt and oil without contributing to
the oxidization of the metal strings.
Mineral oil can leave a residue, which is undesirable in some applications.

Fire performance
Mineral oil is a fuel used by professional firespinners and firebreathers. It is chosen for its high flashpoint and low
burning temperature. As a firebreathing fuel it is ideal because it will not tend to burn as a liquid, due to the high
flashpoint, thus preventing blowback. However, due to the risk of aspiration of mineral oil and resulting lung
damage, this use is considered a health hazard and discouraged.

Mineral oil's ubiquity has led to its use in some niche applications as well.
Mineral oil (also known as baby oil) is frequently used to create a transparency for applications in screen printing.
This is used with larger format prints.
Disposable razors dipped in mineral oil prevent the accumulation of rust and minerals build-up from tap water.[10]
It is used to make lava lamps.
Mineral oil is used to darken soapstone countertops for aesthetic purposes.
It is commonly used to create a "wear" effect on new clay poker chips, which can otherwise only be accomplished
through prolonged use. The chips are either placed in mineral oil (and left there for a short period of time), or the
oil is applied to each chip individually, then rubbed clean. This removes any chalky residue leftover from

Mineral oil

manufacture, and also improves the look and "feel" of the chips.[11]
It has a high refractive index, so it is sometimes used in oil immersion microscopes.
It is the principal fuel in some types of gel-type scented candles.[12]
It is an effective pesticide, particularly for edible plants. It is effective against a wide range of insects and all
stages of insect development.
Mineral oil has been used to immerse computers in order to absorb heat and cool the system in some custom-built
projects.[13] [14]
It is sometimes used as a personal lubricant (although it is not safe for use with latex condoms), and as an
alternative to plant or herbal oils. Mineral oil should not be used for massage therapy.
It can be used in some model trains as a substitute for the "smoke fluid" or "smoke oil" that simulates steam
coming from a steam engine.
It is used in some theatrical fog and haze machines to create a haze effect or thick, slow-dissipating fog on stage.
It can be used in basement floor drain traps to float on top of the water slowing its evaporation thereby keeping
sewer gas from entering the house for a longer period of time
Mineral oil can be used as a dust suppressant.
In microbiology, mineral oil may be added atop agar stab growth media to create an anaerobic environment.
It is the basis for most automotive engine oils.

Used on larger diamond blades of lapidary slab saws as a coolant. Trim saws of 10" diameter or less can utilize
water, often with an additive, but larger saws use mineral oil as it dissipates the heat developed from cutting rock
with diamond blades.
It is sometimes used to prevent the escape of insects in captivity as they tend to be repelled by the oil.
In commercial product photography, it is used to simulate water droplets and condensation because it does not
evaporate under the heat of photographic lights.

Other names
The broad range of applications for mineral oil has resulted in an equally expansive list of application-specific names
and trade brands. Other names for mineral oil include:

Adepsine oil
Cable oil
Baby Oil
Electrical Insulating Oil
Heat-treating oil
Hydraulic oil
Lignite oil
Liquid paraffin
Mineral Seal Oil
Paraffin oil
Petroleum, liquid
Technical oil[15] (in South African English)
White oil
Parifinnum Liquidum or Pariffinnum Liquidum
Liquid Parafin

Mineral oil

See also
Oil analysis
Penetrating oil

[1] "Mechanical properties of materials" (http:/ / www. kayelaby. npl. co. uk/ general_physics/ 2_2/ 2_2_1. html). Kaye and Laby Tables of
Physical and Chemical Constants. National Physical Laboratory. . Retrieved 2008-03-06.
[2] http:/ / www. nature. com/ jid/ journal/ vaop/ ncurrent/ abs/ jid2008241a. html
[3] http:/ / blogs. nature. com/ news/ thegreatbeyond/ 2008/ 08/ link_between_skin_cancer_and_m. html
[4] Suwarno Darma, I.S.; Darma, I. S. (2008). "Dielectric Properties of Mixtures between Mineral Oil and Natural Ester". Proceedings of 2008
International Symposium on Electrical Insulating Materials: 514. doi:10.1109/ISEIM.2008.4664471.
[5] Shkol'nikov, V. M.; L. A. Bronshtein, Yu. N. Shekhter, and O. L. Drozdova (1977). "Electrical and viscosity properties of mineral oil
components". Chemistry and Technology of Fuels and Oils (Springer New York) 13: 479. doi:10.1007/BF00730107.
[6] Oommen, T.V. (2002). "Vegetable Oils for Liquid-Filled Transformers". Electrical Insulation Magazine, IEEE 18: 6. doi:10.1109/57.981322.
[7] Barbara Ingham (October 2007). "Care and Cleaning of Butcher Blocks and Wooden Cutting Boards" (http:/ / www. foodsafety. wisc. edu/
assets/ pdf_Files/ Care and Cleaning of Butcher Blocks and Wooden Cutting Boards. pdf). Food Safety & Health. University of
WisconsinMadison. . Retrieved 2009-07-12.
[8] "Mineral Oil Liquid Facts and Comparisons" (http:/ / www. drugs. com/ cdi/ mineral-oil-liquid. html). Wolters Kluwer Health A to Z Drugs
Facts. Drugs.com. 2009-06-03. . Retrieved 2009-07-13.
[9] WHO Food Additive Monograph 70.39 (http:/ / www. inchem. org/ documents/ jecfa/ jecmono/ v48aje08. htm), retrieved 20 Sep 2009
[10] Nora Dunn. "Save Money on Shaving with These Razor Tricks" (http:/ / www. wisebread. com/
save-money-on-shaving-with-these-razor-tricks). Widebread: Living Large on a Small Budget. . Retrieved 2009-09-17.
[11] John Tucker. "Oiling Chips FAQ" (http:/ / www. pokerchipreviews. com/ oiling. html). Poker Chip Reviews. . Retrieved 2009-07-13.
[12] "Economic Data on Candle and Incense Production and Sales" (http:/ / www. foodsafety. wisc. edu/ assets/ pdf_Files/ Care and Cleaning of
Butcher Blocks and Wooden Cutting Boards. pdf) (PDF). EPA Report: Candles and Incense As Potential Sources of Indoor Air Pollution:
Market Analysis And Literature Review. United States Environmental Protection Agency. January 2001. . Retrieved 2009-07-12. "Gel candles
use liquids such as mineral oil, terpene-type chemicals, or modified hydrocarbons as their primary fuel."
[13] John Bach (2007-05-05). "Mineral Oil Submerged Computer" (http:/ / www. pugetsystems. com/ submerged. php). Puget Custom
Computers. . Retrieved 2009-07-13.
[14] Patrick Norton; Roger Chang (2009-03-09). "How to Build an Oil-Cooled Aquarium PC" (http:/ / revision3. com/ systm/ oilcooling).
Revision3. . Retrieved 2009-07-13.
[15] "Reitzer Technical Oil" (http:/ / www. reitzer. co. za/ product_view. asp?ProductID=43). Reitzer Pharmaceuticals. . Retrieved 2010-03-06.

External links
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Safe handling of Alkali Metals (http://www.llnl.gov/es_and_h/
FAO Report on food safety of mineral oil (http://www.inchem.org/documents/jecfa/jecmono/v48aje08.
htm), 1970

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