White mineral oil, found out to be good for healing injuries by Brooklyn who lived in the USA in the 1870’s, is being used in various sectors from cosmetics to food and pharmaceutical industries since then…
Petroleum and petroleum products’ use in pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries dates back to old times. Written sources found in Azerbaijan tell us that naphtha (crude oil) was pumped out of oil wells in the Naftalan area of Azerbaijan in the 11th century, and traded via caravans. Well-known traveler Marco Polo, who had been in this region in the 13th century, mentioned in his texts that petroleum was particularly used in medicine and pharmacy. Today, this district of Azerbaijan is frequented by alternative medicine enthusiasts for naphtha baths.
In much recent times, we see the use of vaseline as an indispensable raw material for skin care products. Cheesebrough Brooklyn, who had lived in the United States in the 1870’s, realized that the sticky material, often found in oil wells and destroys the pipes by clogging them, is good for healing skin injuries. Then he started to sell his product and led the way to the introduction of vaseline which is used in various cosmetic and skincare products today. As seen in these examples, petroleum is used not only in the production of fuels and oils for our cars, but also in the production of health products, cosmetic products, and chemical raw materials which have a direct or indirect impact on human health, as primary or auxiliary material. Another important material obtained by refining crude petroleum and used in the production of various things that we use in our daily lives is white mineral oil. What is white mineral oil?
It is a colorless, transparent, tasteless, oily and nonfluorescent hydrocarbon blend, consisting of saturated hydrocarbons obtained by the distillation of light fractions using different methods, which are the output of crude petroleum refining. Sulphuric acid treatment or hydrogenation methods can be used for distillation. Such processes removes the aromatic compounds, aromatic amines, unsaturated hydrocarbons and sulphur compounds. White mineral oil does not dissolve in water and alcohol, but easily dissolves in many organic solvents such as ether, chloroform and benzene. It is called ‘white mineral oil’ due to its colorless and transparent structure, but also it can be known as paraffin or liquid paraffin. It could be labelled as technical or pharma grade on the basis of its chemical properties.
An indispensable material for cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries
White mineral oil is used in various industries such as cosmetics, pharmaceutical, food and plastics. In the cosmetic sector, it is generally used as primary or auxiliary material in the production of cream and lotion formulations, baby oil, suntanning products, sun protection creams, makeup products, makeup removers, depilatories, and bath oils. In the pharmaceutical industry, it is used in the production of laxatives, ointment and pomade formulations, and gelatin capsules. In the veterinary drug industry, it is used for producing animal vaccines. White mineral oil used in the cosmetics and drug industry has to be pharma grade and should not contain any hazardous substances on human health. Raw materials used in such products must comply with national and international cosmetic regulations as well as pharmacopies such as USP/NF, Ph. Eur. because the product used gets into human body directly or indirectly. At this point, white mineral oil does not stay long in human body is removes from the body as it does not contain any chemically active group.
It is widely used in the food industry
White mineral oil is widely used in food industry. It is preferred in various food processes, particularly in the production of lubricating oils used in food and drink producers. If the lubricating oil used in food production plants is in contact with the food product, greases, hydraulic system oils, gear oils and compressor oils produced from white mineral oil is preferred in orderto minimize potential health risks. Such lubricating oils have to be suitable for contact with food and must not contain any hazardous substances on human health. Products used for this purpose are strictly monitored, obliged to meet relevant conditions and obtain necessary certificates.
Plastics and elastomer industry is another area where white mineral oil is frequently used. It is used for thermoplastic rubber production, PVC production, and polystyrene production.In addition to these uses, white mineral oil may also exist in our everyday products such as glossing products, polishes, wood products, cleaning products, lamp oil, glues, and toys. The number and variety of such products will likely increase in the near future with ever-advancing technology and our growing needs. As we can see, story of white mineral oil starts in a well as crude petroleum and ends in a giant industrial plant as catalyzer lubricants, or on the skin of a person who needs protection from the sun, or in the hands of a child as a toy. If we look more carefully around us, we may find it out in more things in our everyday life.