What Do We Use Oil For

What are the Different Applications We Use Oil For?

Children often wonder as to why do we need oil? A quick glance around us will reveal the extent to which oil is directly or indirectly used by humans. This Buzzle post sheds some light on the various uses of oil, which will highlight man's ever-increasing dependence on it.
Can you Imagine what will happen if one day the entire world runs out of oil, or all the oil in the whole wide world simply vanishes? Yes, you guessed right, our daily life will come to a complete halt. That is how much we rely on oil in our day-to-day lives. Right from transport and electricity to many small things in our homes, all contain oil or some or the other compounds of it.

Did you know that about 12% of the global oil production is carried out in the United States of America? The U.S. accounts for around 23% of global oil consumption, and to fulfill the demand, America needs to buy oil from other oil-producing nations.

Having said that, do you really know why is oil essential to us? We all know that oil is used for cars, trucks, other automobiles, etc., but apart from these, it holds many other uses too. You will read more about them in the following sections.

Why Do We Need Oil?

In the U.S., two-thirds of oil is used for transportation. It is also used to produce products that are used by the industry and for household purposes. It is used for making oil-based lubricants that are used in homes and industries. Oil is also used to produce electricity. In some regions, it is used to heat homes and residential areas during cold climates.

The most common thing in our lives is plastic. Without plastic we probably won't survive. Right from the mobile phone in your hand to the plastic jacket you use to cover yourself from the maddening rain, is plastic.

Commercial Products
Apart from plastic, you have ample number of things around the house that uses oil. Just a simple example, the toothpaste you use daily is made up of a type of petroleum compound. Not only your toothpaste, so does your shampoo, soap, shaving cream, deodorant, perfumes, nail polish, nail polish remover, all have some or the other type of petroleum compounds like crude oil or natural gas included in the ingredients.

Other than this, we need oil to make medications that help save lives. We also use oil in production of fertilizers, pesticides, etc. And then we come back to square one. All these essential commodities are transported thousands of miles through helicopters, trucks, buses, cars, ships, etc. These modes of transportation all work on, you guessed it right, oil.

Other Uses
Other uses of oil includes, use as fuel in form of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), gasoline (petrol), diesel fuel, kerosene, jet fuel, and fuel oils. It is used as lubricants for motor oils, greases, machine oils, etc. Bulk tar, asphalt, paraffin wax, petroleum coke, aromatic petrochemicals, etc. are also products made from oil.

History of Oil Consumption
Oil or petroleum products have been used by man since the ancient times. However, as man followed a simple lifestyle, the uses of oil too were limited to simple things. Asphalt was used over 4,000 years ago for construction of walls and towers in the city of Babylon. The Persians used oil in medicines as well as for lighting purposes. It was also used as a waterproofing material for ships.

Ignacy Lukasiewicz invented kerosene by the distillation of petroleum in the 1850s. It was henceforth used as a substitute for whale oil. The uses of oil became more and more widespread with the invention of internal combustion engine, plastic, and commercial aviation. Today, the oil consumption in U.S. by sector is as follows:
  • Transportation: 71%
  • Industrial: 23%
  • Residential and Commercial: 5%
  • Electric power: 1%
With the advancement in technology, there is a significant increase in the consumption of oil. However, scientists are working towards finding viable and widely available alternatives. The two main reasons being depletion of oil reserves around the world and global warming.