Mineral oil, also called liquid petroleum, paraffin oil or white mineral oil is an inexpensive byproduct produced in the purification of petroleum and during the production of gasoline and other petrochemical products from crude oil. Mineral oil is a light, colorless, transparent, tasteless, odorless and oily liquid that will not spoil. Mineral oil is available in light and heavy grades, but is insoluble both in water and alcohol. Mineral oil is produced in large amounts, so it is relatively cheap and can be found in local drug stores.
The term “mineral oil” was first coined in the late 18th century to define crude oil or fossil oil and their byproducts that were produced from the wells that tapped underground oil sources. The term mineral oil was used to distinguish between the hydrocarbons produced from the underground oil reservoirs and other common oil sources like whale oil or palm oil. But, currently the term mineral oil is used to describe all the liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons and their products regardless of sources.
Mineral oil is purified according to its use and is available in three different grades in the market. Mineral oil is sometimes called liquid petroleum because its composition and chemical properties are the same. It is composed of aromatic hydrocarbons, naphthenic oils and paraffinic oils. Mineral oil is used as lubricant in heavy equipment industry.
Mineral oil is a mixture of complex hydrocarbons, mainly cyclic paraffins and alkanes (ideally 15 to 40 percent carbons). Mineral oil is chemically the same as petroleum jelly or white mineral oil, except it is liquid petroleum which makes it an ideal choice for several applications. White mineral oil is also insoluble in water and alcohol and occurs as colorless or a faintly yellow mass.
Mineral oil is colorless and transparent. It has no obvious scent. But, it is heavy and gelatinous. Mineral oil is highly valued for coating objects. Formerly, mineral oil was used in the food industry to prevent individual candies from sticking together. Today, mineral oil is still used as a moisturizing cream even though its harmful side effects on human skin are well known. The most common side effects include itching, allergic reactions, hives and skin rash.
Mineral Oil Warnings
Mineral oil is a common ingredient in various skin care products including creams, lotions and baby care products. Companies use mineral oil in manufacturing their products because of its low cost. The real difficulty is that the skin is our largest organ and plays a crucial role in maintaining our good health. Mineral oil is foreign to our skin and responsible for many skin diseases, particularly in infants.