Petroleum jelly
Overview
Petroleum jelly, petrolatum, white petrolatum or soft paraffin, CAS number 8009-03-8, is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbon
Hydrocarbon
In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons from which one hydrogen atom has been removed are functional groups, called hydrocarbyls....

s (with carbon
Carbon
Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

 numbers mainly higher than 25), originally promoted as a topical ointment for its healing properties. Its folkloric medicinal value as a "cure-all" has since been limited by better scientific understanding of appropriate and inappropriate uses (see uses below).
Encyclopedia
Petroleum jelly, petrolatum, white petrolatum or soft paraffin, CAS number 8009-03-8, is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbon
Hydrocarbon
In organic chemistry, a hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Hydrocarbons from which one hydrogen atom has been removed are functional groups, called hydrocarbyls....

s (with carbon
Carbon
Carbon is the chemical element with symbol C and atomic number 6. As a member of group 14 on the periodic table, it is nonmetallic and tetravalent—making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds...

 numbers mainly higher than 25), originally promoted as a topical ointment for its healing properties. Its folkloric medicinal value as a "cure-all" has since been limited by better scientific understanding of appropriate and inappropriate uses (see uses below). However, it is recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

 (FDA) as an approved over-the-counter
Over-the-counter drug
Over-the-counter drugs are medicines that may be sold directly to a consumer without a prescription from a healthcare professional, as compared to prescription drugs, which may be sold only to consumers possessing a valid prescription...

 (OTC) skin
Skin
-Dermis:The dermis is the layer of skin beneath the epidermis that consists of connective tissue and cushions the body from stress and strain. The dermis is tightly connected to the epidermis by a basement membrane. It also harbors many Mechanoreceptors that provide the sense of touch and heat...

 protectant, and remains widely used in cosmetic
Cosmetics
Cosmetics are substances used to enhance the appearance or odor of the human body. Cosmetics include skin-care creams, lotions, powders, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail and toe nail polish, eye and facial makeup, towelettes, permanent waves, colored contact lenses, hair colors, hair sprays and...

 skin care.

The raw material for petroleum jelly was discovered in 1859 in Titusville, Pennsylvania
Titusville, Pennsylvania
Titusville is a city in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 6,146 at the 2000 census. In 1859, oil was successfully drilled in Titusville, resulting in the birth of the modern oil industry.-History:...

, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, on some of the country's first oil rigs. Workers disliked the paraffin
Paraffin
In chemistry, paraffin is a term that can be used synonymously with "alkane", indicating hydrocarbons with the general formula CnH2n+2. Paraffin wax refers to a mixture of alkanes that falls within the 20 ≤ n ≤ 40 range; they are found in the solid state at room temperature and begin to enter the...

-like material forming on rigs because it caused them to malfunction, but they used it on cuts and burns because it hastened healing .

Robert Chesebrough
Robert Chesebrough
Sir Robert Augustus Chesebrough, was a chemist and the inventor of petroleum jelly, which he trade-named as Vaseline. In 1875 he founded the Chesebrough Manufacturing Company that in 1955 became Chesebrough-Ponds, a leading manufacturer of personal care products. Chesebrough patented the process...

, a young chemist
Chemist
A chemist is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties such as density and acidity. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study in terms of quantities, with detail on the level of molecules and their component atoms...

 whose previous work of distilling
Distillation
Distillation is a method of separating mixtures based on differences in volatilities of components in a boiling liquid mixture. Distillation is a unit operation, or a physical separation process, and not a chemical reaction....

 fuel from the oil of sperm whales (which had been rendered obsolete by petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

), went to Titusville to see what new materials had commercial potential. Chesebrough took the unrefined black "rod wax", as the drillers called it, back to his laboratory to refine it and explore potential uses. Chesebrough discovered that by distilling the lighter, thinner oil products from the rod wax, he could create a light-colored gel. Chesebrough patent
Patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

ed the process of making petroleum jelly by in 1872. The process involved vacuum distillation
Vacuum distillation
Vacuum distillation is a method of distillation whereby the pressure above the liquid mixture to be distilled is reduced to less than its vapor pressure causing evaporation of the most volatile liquid...

 of the crude material followed by filtration of the still residue through bone char
Bone char
Bone char, also known as bone black, ivory black, animal charcoal, or abaiser, is a granular material produced by charring animal bones. To prevent the spread of mad-cow disease, the skull and spine are never used...

.

Chesebrough traveled around New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 demonstrating the product to encourage sales by burning his skin with acid or an open flame, then spreading the ointment on his injuries and showing his past injuries healed, he claimed, by his miracle product.

He opened his first factory in 1870 in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

 using the name Vaseline
Vaseline
Vaseline is a brand of petroleum jelly based products owned by Anglo-Dutch company Unilever. Products include plain petroleum jelly and a selection of skin creams, soaps, lotions, cleansers, deodorants and personal lubricants....

.

Physical properties

Petroleum jelly is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons, having a melting-point usually within a few degrees of human body temperature, which is approximately 37 °C (98.6 °F). It is only flammable when heated to liquid, then the fumes will light, not the liquid itself, so a wick material like leaves, bark, or small twigs is needed to light petroleum jelly. It is colorless, or of a pale yellow color (when not highly distilled), translucent, and devoid of taste and smell when pure. It does not oxidize on exposure to the air and is not readily acted on by chemical reagents. It is insoluble in water. It is soluble in dichloromethane
Dichloromethane
Dichloromethane is an organic compound with the formula CH2Cl2. This colorless, volatile liquid with a moderately sweet aroma is widely used as a solvent. Although it is not miscible with water, it is miscible with many organic solvents...

, chloroform
Chloroform
Chloroform is an organic compound with formula CHCl3. It is one of the four chloromethanes. The colorless, sweet-smelling, dense liquid is a trihalomethane, and is considered somewhat hazardous...

, benzene
Benzene
Benzene is an organic chemical compound. It is composed of 6 carbon atoms in a ring, with 1 hydrogen atom attached to each carbon atom, with the molecular formula C6H6....

, diethyl ether
Diethyl ether
Diethyl ether, also known as ethyl ether, simply ether, or ethoxyethane, is an organic compound in the ether class with the formula . It is a colorless, highly volatile flammable liquid with a characteristic odor...

, carbon disulfide
Carbon disulfide
Carbon disulfide is a colorless volatile liquid with the formula CS2. The compound is used frequently as a building block in organic chemistry as well as an industrial and chemical non-polar solvent...

 and oil of turpentine
Turpentine
Turpentine is a fluid obtained by the distillation of resin obtained from trees, mainly pine trees. It is composed of terpenes, mainly the monoterpenes alpha-pinene and beta-pinene...

.

There is a common misconception that petroleum jelly and glycerol
Glycerol
Glycerol is a simple polyol compound. It is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that is widely used in pharmaceutical formulations. Glycerol has three hydroxyl groups that are responsible for its solubility in water and its hygroscopic nature. The glycerol backbone is central to all lipids...

 (glycerine) are physically similar, because they feel similar when applied to human skin. While petroleum jelly is a non-polar hydrocarbon hydrophobic (water-repelling) and insoluble in water, glycerol (not a hydrocarbon but an alcohol) is the opposite: it is so strongly hydrophilic
Hydrophile
A hydrophile, from the Greek "water" and φιλια "love," is a molecule or other molecular entity that is attracted to, and tends to be dissolved by water. A hydrophilic molecule or portion of a molecule is one that has a tendency to interact with or be dissolved by, water and other polar substances...

 (water-attracting)
that by continuous absorption of moisture from the air, it produces the feeling of wetness on the skin, similar to the greasiness produced by petroleum jelly.

Depending on the specific industry the petrolatum is used for, the petrolatum may be USP
United States Pharmacopeia
The United States Pharmacopeia is the official pharmacopeia of the United States, published dually with the National Formulary as the USP-NF. The United States Pharmacopeial Convention is the nonprofit organization that owns the trademark and copyright to the USP-NF and publishes it every year...

, B.P.
British Pharmacopoeia
The British Pharmacopoeia is an annual published collection of quality standards for UK medicinal substances. It is used by individuals and organizations involved in pharmaceutical research, development, manufacture and testing....

, or Ph. Eur.
European Pharmacopoeia
The European Pharmacopoeia of the Council of Europe is a pharmacopoeia, listing a wide range of active substances and excipients used to prepare pharmaceutical products in Europe...

 grade. This pertains to the processing and handling of the petrolatum so it is suitable for medicinal and personal care applications.

Uses

Chesebrough originally promoted Vaseline primarily as an ointment for scrapes, burns, and cuts, but studies have shown that Vaseline has no medicinal effect nor any effect on the blistering process, nor is it absorbed by the skin. Vaseline’s effectiveness in accelerating wound healing stems from its sealing effect on cuts and burns, which inhibits germs from getting into the wound and keeps the injured area supple by preventing the skin's moisture from evaporating.

Vaseline brand First Aid Petroleum Jelly, or carbolated petroleum jelly, containing phenol
Phenol
Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, phenic acid, is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5OH. It is a white crystalline solid. The molecule consists of a phenyl , bonded to a hydroxyl group. It is produced on a large scale as a precursor to many materials and useful compounds...

 to give the jelly additional anti-bacterial effect, has been discontinued.

After Vaseline became a medicine-chest staple, consumers began to use it for myriad ailments and cosmetic purposes, including chapped hands and lips
Chapped lips
Chapped lips or Cracked lips is a condition whereby the lips become dry and possibly cracked. It may be caused by the evaporation of moisture. Often the lips become dry because the layer of oil that is naturally produced by the body to coat the lips is removed or is lacking...

, toenail fungus
Onychomycosis
Onychomycosis means fungal infection of the nail. It is the most common disease of the nails and constitutes about a half of all nail abnormalities....

, male genital rashes (non-STD
Sexually transmitted disease
Sexually transmitted disease , also known as a sexually transmitted infection or venereal disease , is an illness that has a significant probability of transmission between humans by means of human sexual behavior, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex...

), nosebleed
Nosebleed
Epistaxis or a nosebleed is the relatively common occurrence of hemorrhage from the nose, usually noticed when the blood drains out through the nostrils...

s, diaper rash
Diaper rash
Irritant diaper dermatitis is a generic term applied to skin rashes in the diaper area that are caused by various skin disorders and/or irritants.Generic rash or irritant diaper dermatitis is characterized by joined patches of erythema and...

, chest colds
Common cold
The common cold is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system, caused primarily by rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. Common symptoms include a cough, sore throat, runny nose, and fever...

, and even to remove makeup or stains from furniture. Uses for pets include stopping fungi from developing on aquatic turtles' shells and keeping cats from making messes when they cough up furballs
Hairball
A hairball is a small collection of hair or fur formed in the stomach of animals that is occasionally vomited up when it becomes too big. Hairballs are primarily a tight elongated cylinder of packed fur, but may include bits of other elements such as swallowed food. Cats are especially prone to...

. In the first part of the twentieth century, petrolatum, either pure or as an ingredient, was also popular as a hair pomade
Pomade
Pomade is a greasy or waxy substance that is used to style hair. Pomade makes hair look slick and shiny. Unlike hair spray and hair gel, pomade does not dry and often takes several washes to remove...

. When used in a 50/50 mixture with pure beeswax
Beeswax
Beeswax is a natural wax produced in the bee hive of honey bees of the genus Apis. It is mainly esters of fatty acids and various long chain alcohols...

, it makes an effective moustache wax
Moustache wax
Moustache wax is a stiff pomade applied to a moustache as a grooming aid to hold the hairs in place, especially at the extremities. It can also have restorative properties, which become more important as the hair length increases...

.
  • During World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

    , a variety of petroleum jelly called dark red veterinary petroleum jelly was often included in life raft survival kits. Acting as a sunscreen
    Sunscreen
    Sunblock is a lotion, spray, gel or other topical product that absorbs or reflects some of the sun's ultraviolet radiation on the skin exposed to sunlight and thus helps protect against sunburn...

    , it provides protection against ultraviolet
    Ultraviolet
    Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV...

     rays.

  • Most petroleum jelly today is consumed as an ingredient in skin lotion
    Lotion
    A lotion is a low- to medium-viscosity, topical preparation intended for application to unbroken skin. By contrast, creams and gels have higher viscosity.Lotions are usually applied to external skin with bare hands, a clean cloth, cotton wool or gauze...

    s and cosmetics. Although petrolatum is less expensive than glycerol
    Glycerol
    Glycerol is a simple polyol compound. It is a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that is widely used in pharmaceutical formulations. Glycerol has three hydroxyl groups that are responsible for its solubility in water and its hygroscopic nature. The glycerol backbone is central to all lipids...

    , the most common active lubricating ingredient in skin lotion, it is not used in expensive lotions, because it is not absorbed into the skin, resulting in a greasy feel.

  • Petrolatum is a useful material when incorporated into candle wax formulas. The petrolatum softens the overall blend, allows the candle to incorporate additional fragrance oil, and facilitates adhesion to the sidewall of glass.

  • Petroleum jelly is used to moisten plasticine
    Plasticine
    Plasticine, a brand of modelling clay, is a putty-like modelling material made from calcium salts, petroleum jelly and aliphatic acids. The name is a registered trademark of Flair Leisure Products plc...

    , as part of a mix of hydrocarbons including greater (paraffin wax) and lesser (mineral oil
    Mineral oil
    A mineral oil is any of various colorless, odorless, light mixtures of alkanes in the C15 to C40 range from a non-vegetable source, particularly a distillate of petroleum....

    ) molecular weights.

  • Petroleum jelly is commonly used as a personal lubricant
    Personal lubricant
    Personal lubricants are specialized lubricants to reduce friction between body parts, or between body parts and other objects...

    . (Not recommended for use with condoms because it dissolves
    Solvation
    Solvation, also sometimes called dissolution, is the process of attraction and association of molecules of a solvent with molecules or ions of a solute...

     latex.)

  • It is used as a key ingredient for conditioners of ethnic hair.

  • It can prevent moisture loss and chapped lips
    Chapped lips
    Chapped lips or Cracked lips is a condition whereby the lips become dry and possibly cracked. It may be caused by the evaporation of moisture. Often the lips become dry because the layer of oil that is naturally produced by the body to coat the lips is removed or is lacking...

    , soften nail cuticles, and provide rectal lubrication for conditions like hemorrhoids or anal fissures.

  • It can be used as a release agent for plaster molds and castings.

  • It can be used to coat corrosion-prone items such as metallic trinkets, non-stainless steel blades, and gun barrels prior to storage as it serves as an excellent and inexpensive water repellent. For keeping the shine and cleanliness on black patent leather shoes, apply a very thin coat with a paper towel and buff off gently.

  • It can be used to condition and protect leather.

  • It can be used to finish wood, much like a mineral oil finish.

  • It can be used when using a home hair dye kit, if put onto skin close to the hairline it can prevent the hair dye staining the skin.

  • It can be used by long distance runners, who wear loose t-shirts (usually men), on their nipples to prevent chafing
    Chafing
    Chafing when used as a nautical term describes the process of wear on a line or sail caused by constant rubbing against a hard, usually metallic, surface. Various methods are used to prevent chafing. Chafing of lines that rest on a choke on a boat can be prevented by putting a protecting material...

     caused by the friction between the skin and clothing while running.

  • It can be used for tinder
    Tinder
    Tinder is easily combustible material used to ignite fires by rudimentary methods. A small fire consisting of tinder is then used to ignite kindling. Anything that can be ignited by a match can be considered tinder; or by more rigorous definition, anything that begins to glow under a shower of...

    , lightly coated on a cotton ball.

  • It can be used for coating the inner edges of terrariums, to deny organisms within physical purchase on the walls (which could allow them to escape).

  • It was recommended by Porsche
    Porsche
    Porsche Automobil Holding SE, usually shortened to Porsche SE a Societas Europaea or European Public Company, is a German based holding company with investments in the automotive industry....

     in the owner’s manual of their cars as a preservative for light alloy anodized Fuchs
    Fuchs
    - Industry :* Fuchs Petrolub, the world's largest independent manufacturer of lubricants, and related speciality products.* Fuchs Group, spice company based in Germany* Fuchs Systems Inc., a German manufacturer of equipment for making steel- People :...

     wheels to protect them against corrosion from road salts and brake dust. “Every three months (after regular cleaning) the wheels should be coated with petroleum jelly.”

  • It was also recommended by Porsche in maintenance training documentation for lubrication (after cleaning) of "Weatherstrips on Doors, Hood, Tailgate, Sun Roof". The publication states "…before applying a new coat of lubricant…" "Only acid-free lubricants may be used, for example: glycerine, Vaseline, tire mounting paste, etc. These lubricants should be rubbed in, and excessive lubricant wiped off with a soft cloth."

Verified medicinal uses

  • It is used to protect and prevent moisture loss of the skin of a patient in the initial post-operative period following laser skin resurfacing.

Improper uses

  • Petroleum jelly weakens latex
    Latex
    Latex is the stable dispersion of polymer microparticles in an aqueous medium. Latexes may be natural or synthetic.Latex as found in nature is a milky fluid found in 10% of all flowering plants . It is a complex emulsion consisting of proteins, alkaloids, starches, sugars, oils, tannins, resins,...

     condom
    Condom
    A condom is a barrier device most commonly used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy and spreading sexually transmitted diseases . It is put on a man's erect penis and physically blocks ejaculated semen from entering the body of a sexual partner...

    s, increasing the chance of rupture.

  • Petroleum jelly should not be applied to the inside of the nose
    Nose
    Anatomically, a nose is a protuberance in vertebrates that houses the nostrils, or nares, which admit and expel air for respiration in conjunction with the mouth. Behind the nose are the olfactory mucosa and the sinuses. Behind the nasal cavity, air next passes through the pharynx, shared with the...

     due to the risk of lipid pneumonia
    Lipid pneumonia
    Lipid pneumonia or lipoid pneumonia is a specific form of lung inflammation that develops when lipids enter the bronchial tree. The disorder is sometimes called Cholesterol pneumonia in cases where the lipid is a factor.-Causes:...

    .

Use in "green" applications

Producers of personal care and cosmetic products have continued to focus incorporating into their formulas materials that are based on renewable resources. To keep the desirable properties of the petroleum based petrolatum, "hybrid petrolatums" are now being used in many applications. Hybrid petrolatum utilizes a complex mixture of vegetable oils and waxes and combines them with petroleum, micro wax based technologies. This allows a formulator to incorporate higher percentages of renewable resources while maintaining the beneficial properties of the petrolatum.

Due to the different chemical structure of vegetable based oils, producers of hybrid petrolatum must appropriately blend and match the correct petroleum and vegetable based materials in order to obtain an homogeneous mixture. This ensures the hybrid petrolatum will have compatibility comparable to a full, 100% petroleum based petrolatum when used in personal care, cosmetic, and other formulas.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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