What is Petroleum Jelly?

  Petroleum jelly is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons. Basically, this is a colourless and odourless ointment with very many uses today. Also known as petrolatum, this jelly was discovered as paraffin-like material coating oil rings. Ever since then, it has been used in various ointments and as a lubricant.

Petroleum jelly is made by a waxy petroleum material formed on oil rigs and distilling it. The lighter and thinner oil-based products make up the petrolatum. This process was devised and patented by a chemist called Robert Chesebrough in the year 1872. Simply put, the crude material undergoes vacuum distillation. The still residue is then filtered via bone char to produce petrolatum.

Physical properties -
The melting point of Petrolatum is usually within a few degrees of human body temperature. The jelly is flammable when heated to liquid. The liquid jelly cannot fume; a wick material such as a leaf or bark is needed to ignite jelly. The jelly is colourless or sometimes pale yellow when not highly distilled. The jelly is also translucent and doesn't have any taste or smell. It doesn't oxidize when exposed to air and is not readily acted on by any chemical reagents. It's insoluble in water but soluble in benzene, dichloromethane, turpentine, chloroform and carbon disulphide.

1. Skin Care
Petrolatum can be applied directly on the skin. It keeps the skin moist because of its greasy consistency. It can be used as a lip balm to keep your lips from becoming dry and chapped in windy or high altitude conditions. When other body parts become dry, you can rub it into the affected area and this will instantly deliver moisture and keep the area soft and supple for hours.

 2. Household Uses
Petroleum jelly can be used to finish wood in a similar manner to mineral oil or other wood finishes. The jelly slowly absorbs into dry wood to give a protective sheen and darker colour. This jelly can be used to coat rust-prone items that we usually store at home such as jewellery; the coating keeps them from getting rusty and also protects their natural metallic brilliance. You can also rub the jelly into hardened leather products such as furniture and clothing to soften them and also give them a smoother texture.

 3. Hair care
Apply petroleum right into hair to style into different shapes. You can also add a bit to your eyebrows to smooth them down and also keep them in place. When mixed with a bit of wax, this jelly can make a good moustache-shaping product. Before applying any dye or colour to hair, apply some white petrolatum along the hairline and ears to keep skin from staining.

 4. Lubrication Uses
Petroleum jelly to lubricate items you don't want to become stuck after long period of time without use. You can also put this jelly on car batteries to keep them from becoming rusted to the clamps and keep them looking shiny and new for long periods of time. When applied to the base of the bulb, this jelly keeps light bulbs from getting struck in sockets, even in an outdoor setting.

 5. Medical treatment
The jelly helps in healing cuts and sores as it protects the wounds from moisture and bacterial. The jelly can also be used to heal scars.

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