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Impressive Uses of Mineral Oil

Marian K Jun 9, 2019
Mineral oil uses are many, and span the medical, food, cosmetic and mechanical industry. As it is cheap and produced in large quantities, it is widely used everywhere. Here is a glimpse of its varied uses.
Mineral oil is most commonly put to use in our daily lives as baby oil, which has a fragrance added to it. It is clear, odorless and colorless.
It is formed as a by-product during the distillation of petroleum from crude oil, to produce gasoline and other petroleum-based products. It is produced in very large quantities and is inexpensively available in drug stores. Due to its easy availability and low value, it is put into use in a wide range of avenues.

As a Laxative

Doctors often recommend mineral oil for constipation and also as a treatment for hemorrhoids.
A mineral oil based laxative can be bought from a drug store and is usually taken orally before going to bed. As a laxative, it reduces the pain during bowel movement as it coats the stool with a waterproof film that helps it to remain moist.
However, it must only be used on a short-term basis as over time, small quantities may get absorbed into internal tissue thereby causing adverse reactions to the body. It must not be used along with stool softeners as that will increase the chances of it getting absorbed by the body.

As Baby Oil

Fragrance is added to mineral oil and sold as baby oil in the US, UK, Canada and elsewhere. It is used as a skin ointment, and may help relieve the discomfort caused by "diaper rashes".
Some use it to treat mild eczema, especially in situations where one does not want to use corticosteroid creams. Another use can be to clean the inside of the ears.

In Veterinary Medicine

Mineral oil is sometimes swabbed on the feet of chickens that have scaly mites on the shank, toes, and webs, which suffocates these small parasites and kills them. In the beekeeping industry, some people place paper napkins soaked in mineral oil in the hive to treat tracheal and other mites.

In Cosmetics

Mineral oil is an ingredient in several products of the beauty industry. It is used in cold creams, baby lotions, ointments and cosmetics.
People also use it to keep their eyelashes supple and minimize brittleness. It is also very effective when applied to a region to take off a temporary tattoo or creme makeup. However, a possible side effect of using mineral oil in cosmetics is that constant use creates a plastic layer on the skin which blocks the pores, hampering the production of vitamin D.

As a Preservative

Among the mineral oil properties, that of not absorbing atmospheric moisture is frequently harnessed. In this capacity it is used to protect water-sensitive materials such as lithium, which are submerged in mineral oil for storage or transportation.
Metal tools and weapons, especially knives, are covered in a thin layer of mineral oil to hinder oxidation.
Other uses are to condition leather and as a wood preservative. Well-sanded wood is often rubbed lightly with mineral oil to give it a relatively durable finish. It is an alternative to varnish or urethane, for those who wish to avoid odor, drying time and toxicity.
When applied to wooden utensils such as spatulas, cutting boards and salad bowls, it inhibits the absorption of water and food odors. This makes for easy cleaning and hinders the growth of bacteria.

In Fire Performances

Mineral oil has low burning temperature and high flash point. Therefore being a liquid form it does not pose risks of burning and prevents fire blowback. However, since it can damage lungs, use of mineral oil for fire breathers is discouraged.

Mechanical, Electrical and Industrial Use

Mineral oil is used in automobile industry to a great extent. It may be used as a non-conductive coolant or thermal fluid in electric components, for example, as transformer oil in transformers, and as insulator cum coolant in high voltage switchgear, to disperse switching arcs.
Mineral oil's dielectric constant ranges from 2.3 at 50 degrees Celsius to 2.3 at 200 degrees Celsius. It is occasionally used as a heat transfer oil in electric space heaters.
Its non-compressible properties make it ideal for use in hydraulic machinery and vehicles as a hydraulic fluid. The textile industry also makes use of light mineral oil, especially as a jute batching oil.
Mineral oil is also used while making candy, which involves giving it the glossy effect and preventing pieces from sticking together. Another popular use is to clean oil stains as it dilutes and liquefies the other oils, which makes them easier to wash away.
At home, people often apply it to an area where the adhesive of a sticky tape needs to be cleared away. There aren't many known dangers of mineral oil, as when used in moderation, it does little harm. The negative aspect though of it is that it can leave a residue and is poorly biodegradable.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical expert.