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Petroleum Jelly

Monday, December 23, 2013

Petroleum Jelly


Petroleum jelly, petrolatum, white petrolatum, soft paraffin or multi-hydrocarbon is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons, originally promoted as a topical ointment for its healing properties.

After petroleum jelly became a medicine chest staple, consumers began to use it for myriad ailments and cosmetic purposes, including toenail fungus, nosebleeds, diaper rash, and chest colds. Its folkloric medicinal value as a "cure-all" has since been limited by better scientific understanding of appropriate and inappropriate uses. It is recognized by the U.S.Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an approved over-the-counter (OTC) skin protectant, and remains widely used in cosmetic skin care.


Refined and purified petroleum jellies are white and yellow in colour and less refined petroleum jellies are generally green in colour.

White petroleum jelly

White petroleum jelly is used for production of medicinal and cosmetic products. It is produced by blending white oil, microcrystalline wax and paraffin wax.

Yellow / other petroleum jelly

For application in lubricant etc, yellow / other petroleum jelly is used. It is produced by blending less refined mineral oils, slack wax and paraffin wax.

Uses and Application

Medical treatment         

Chesebrough originally promoted Vaseline primarily as an ointment for scrapes, burns, and cuts, but studies have shown that Vaseline has neither medicinal effect nor any effect on the blistering process, nor is it absorbed by the skin.

Vaseline brand First Aid Petroleum Jelly, or carbolated petroleum jelly containing phenol to give the jelly additional antibacterial effect. Acting as a sunscreen, it provides protection against ultraviolet rays.

Petroleum jelly's effectiveness in accelerating wound healing stems from its sealing effect on cuts and burns, which inhibits germs from getting into the wound and keeps the injured area supple by preventing the skin's moisture from evaporating.

A verified medicinal use is to protect and prevent moisture loss of the skin of a patient in the initial post-operative period following laser skin resurfacing. Petroleum jelly is used extensively by otolaryngologists - head and neck surgeons - for nasal moisture, epitasis treatment as well as to combat nasal crusting.

Skin and hair care

Most petroleum jelly today is used as an ingredient in skin lotions and cosmetics, providing various types of skin care and protection by minimizing friction or reducing moisture loss, or by functioning as a grooming aid.

Moisture loss

By reducing moisture loss, petroleum jelly can prevent chapped hands and lips, and soften nail cuticles.

Petroleum jelly can be used to keep swimmers warm in water when training or during channel crossings or long ocean swims. It can prevent chilling of the face due to evaporation of skin moisture during cold weather outdoor sports.

Hair grooming

Petroleum jelly, either pure or as an ingredient, was also popular as a hair pomade. When used in a 50/50 mixture with pure beeswax, it makes an effective moustache wax. It is used as a key ingredient for conditioners of Afro-textured hair

Skin lubrication

Petroleum jelly can be used to reduce the friction between skin and clothing during various sport activities, for example to prevent chafing of the seat region of cyclists, the nipples of long distance runners wearing loose t-shirts, and is commonly used in the crotch area of wrestlers and footballers. Petroleum jelly is commonly used as a personal lubricant.

Product care and protection


Petroleum jelly is used to coat corrosion-prone items such as metallic trinkets, non-stainless steel blades, and gun barrels prior to storage as it serves as an excellent and inexpensive water repellent. It is used as an environment friendly underwater antifouling coating for motor boats and sailing yachts.


It is used to finish and protect wood, much like a mineral oil finish. It is used to condition and protect smooth leather products like bicycle saddles, boots, motorcycle clothing, and used to put a shine on patent leather shoes.


Petroleum jelly can be used to lubricate zippers and slide rules. It was also recommended by Porsche in maintenance training documentation for lubrication. The publication states "…before applying a new coat of lubricant…" "Only acid-free lubricants may be used, for example: glycerin, Vaseline, tire mounting paste, etc. These lubricants should be rubbed in, and excessive lubricant wiped off with a soft cloth."

Production processes

Petroleum jelly is a useful material when incorporated into candle wax formulas. The petroleum jelly softens the overall blend, allows the candle to incorporate additional fragrance oil, and facilitates adhesion to the sidewall of the glass. Petroleum jelly is used to moisten nondrying modeling clay such as plasticine, as part of a mix of hydrocarbons including those with greater (paraffin wax) and lesser (mineral oil) molecular weights. It can be used as a release agent for plaster molds and castings. It is used in the leather industry as a waterproofing cream. It can be used for tinder, lightly coated on a cotton ball. It has been used as a secondary ingredient in a Molotov cocktail, to make the flames stick to any surface they touch and to make large amounts of smoke.


Mechanical, barrier functions

Petroleum jelly can be used to coat the inner walls of terrariums to prevent animals crawling out and escaping.

A stripe of petroleum jelly can be used to prevent the spread of a liquid.

Surface cleansing

Petroleum jelly is used to clean a variety of surfaces, ranging from makeup removal from faces to tar stain removal from leather.

Pet care

Petroleum jelly is used to moisturize the paws of dogs, and to inhibit fungal growth on aquatic turtles’ shells. It is a common ingredient in "hairball" remedies for domestic cats.

Leather industry

Petroleum  jelly  is  used  in  leather  finishes  for  softening  hardened  leather.  It helps to prevent the  sweating  out  of  free  sulphur  on  the  surface  of  the  rubber.

Rubber industry

Petroleum jelly is used as a protective coating lubricant for treads on rubber tyres before  mounting  and  as  a  vehicle  for  the  mixture  of  glycerol  and  carbon  black employed to give a factory finish to reworked tyres.


Petroleum jelly is very sticky and hard to remove from non-biological surfaces with the usual and customary cleaning agents typically found in the home. It may be dissolved with paint thinner or other petroleum solvents such as acetone, which dissolves most plastics. These solvents should be used in well-ventilated areas, and as infrequently as possible.

Petroleum jelly is slightly soluble in alcohol. To avoid damage to plastics as well as minimize ventilation issues, isopropyl rubbing alcohol can be used to remove petroleum jelly from most surfaces. Isopropyl alcohol is inert to most household surfaces, including almost every plastic, and removes petroleum jelly efficiently.

Petroleum jelly is also soluble in lower molecular weight oils. Using an oil to dissolve the petroleum jelly first can render it more soluble to solvents and soaps that would not dissolve pure petroleum jelly. Vegetable oils such as canola and olive oil are commonly used to aid in the removal of petroleum jelly from hair and skin.

Petroleum Jelly in Global Market

There  are  number  of  producers  of  petroleum  jelly  in  the  small  and  medium  scale sector at small capacity levels in different parts of the world. The driving factors for demand of petroleum jelly are skin care products, largely influenced by the personal appearance factor. Europe and North America dominate the world petroleum jelly market. However, fast growth is likely to emanate from Asia Pacific region. The demand for petroleum jelly in industrial sector is growing. The  demand  for  petroleum  jelly  exists  in  the  cross  section  of  the  consuming industry, pointing out the need for capacity creation to meet the regional demand.

Source: NPCS Team

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