Mineral oil, also known as liquid petroleum, is a by-product of the crude oil that is obtained in the distillation of petroleum, to produce gasoline and other petroleum-based products. It transpires as a tasteless, odorless (when cold), transparent, colorless, and oily liquid that is insoluble in both water and alcohol. It is produced in very large quantities, hence is easily available in drug stores and inexpensively priced. It is, therefore, used in wide number of avenues, like in baby oil, cosmetics, etc. Given below are some of the most common mineral oil uses.
Common Uses Of Mineral Oil
Due to its easy availability, the inexpensive mineral oil serves as a common ingredient in ointments, baby lotions, cold creams and cosmetics. It can be used to remove make up and temporary tattoos. At the same time, it is also applied on eyelashes, to prevent them from breaking.
Since mineral oil does not absorb atmospheric moisture, it is frequently used in protecting alkali metals like lithium. They are submerged in mineral oil for storage and transportation. A coating of mineral oil is often applied on metal tools and weapons like knives, to hamper oxidation. It can also be used to condition leather products and preserve wood products. The light coating of mineral oil is also rubbed over well-sanded wood, to give it a durable finish look.
Mineral oil is used as a medicine, both internally and externally. It is prescribed orally as lubricative laxative to ease the pain of bowel movements in people suffering from hemorrhoids and constipation and is taken before going to bed. It coats the bowel with waterproof film that helps it remain moist. However, the oil should be used in moderation, as it can prevent the uptake of certain vitamins and nutrients. In the outer part of the body, mineral oil (with added fragrance) is marketed as baby oil. It is often used to treat infant "diaper rashes" and ease the inflammation. It can also be used to clean the inside of ears (2- 3 drops daily).
In Fire Performance
Due to the low burning temperature and high flashpoints of mineral oil, it is extensively used by professional fire spinners and fire breathers. It is considered ideal for fire-breathers, as it does not burn as liquid, thus preventing blowback. However, since the oil can damage lungs, its use is discouraged and considered as health hazard.
Mechanical, Electrical & Industrial Uses
Mineral oil is used in an array of industrial/mechanical capability, as a non-conductive coolant or thermal fluid in electric components. This is because it displaces air and water and does not conduct electricity. It is often used as heat transfer oil by electric space heaters. Mineral oil is also used as a fluid in hydraulic machinery and vehicle, as it is non-compressible. Light mineral oil is used as a lubricant in textile industries and even used as a jute batching oil.
Mineral oil works wonders in cleaning heavy oil stains, by diluting and liquefying the other oils, thereby rendering them more accessible to detergents. It can successfully be used to remove adhesive residue left by price tags or adhesive tape. It can even be used in guitar-string cleaners, as it mobilizes dirt and oil without contributing to the oxidization of metal strings.