Paraffinum Liquidum (mineral oil) is a petroleum by-product and is created through distillation. Mineral oil is completely transparent and is basically a liquid form of petroleum jelly. It is produced in large quantities and is used in many different ways all over the world, mostly due to its low toxicity and low cost. Mineral oil is safe for both skin contact as well as ingestion, and can be found in most drug stores. It can be used as a preservative, lubricant, coolant, and non-conductive thermal fluid.
How Paraffinum Liquidum Works
Mineral oil is an alkane/paraffin that is composed entirely of hydrogen and carbon. Mineral oil is one of dozens of other by-products of petroleum distillation, making it a liquid petrolatum. Naturally, mineral oil is very oily but can easily be removed with soap and water.
Mineral oil literally has dozens of applications and can be used for a wide variety of purposes. For example, baby oil is simply mineral oil that is mixed with fragrances. Mineral oil can be used for hygienic purposes to remove makeup or other skin-based materials and can also help the skin absorb sunlight without over-drying or burning. It can also be used as a laxative, as an adjuvant in animal vaccinations, and as a preservative that makes wood and soapstone look newer while making clay look older. Mineral oil can be applied to the eyelashes to prevent brittleness, to the ear canal to loosen earwax, and to animal skin to kill bacteria or remove unshed skin. It can also be used as a coolant and insulator in electrical systems, as a hydraulic fluid in hydraulic systems, and as a heat transfer oil in some space heaters.
Mineral oil has many important advantages. For example, it is extremely oily and has bonds that are very close together. Mineral oil does not conduct electricity, which prevents it from flowing between metal contacts and any protective layer of material that covers them. Mineral oil does, however, conduct heat very well and cannot be compressed. It is non-toxic, used to make candy shine, and is often added to bowling alley lanes to protect the wood from bowling balls.
Although mineral oil is highly advantageous, it also has several disadvantages. For example, mineral oil increases the risk of cancer in rats that are irradiated twice a week for twenty weeks. Mineral oil can also cause health problems if absorbed in tissue, may prevent essential nutrients from reaching the intestines, as well as cause temporary incontinence of the bowels. Mineral oil should never be inhaled as it can prevent the lungs from absorbing air particles, thereby causing asphyxia.