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What are the ingredients of petroleum jelly?

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Quick Answer

Petroleum jelly is a mixed compound of hydrocarbons that come from oil rigs. The paraffin-like material goes through a process called vacuum distillation and is filtered through bone char.

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Petroleum jelly was developed by Robert Chesebrough in 1859. He later patented the distillation and filtration process in 1872 after opening his factory, Vaseline, in 1870. Petroleum jelly is also known as white petrolatum and, at room temperature, it is odorless. The compound melts at 99 degrees and is flammable when in liquid form. It is often used to quicken the healing of wounds, yet has no medicinal effect. When applied to a wound, petroleum jelly provides a protective coating that doesn't allow unwanted bacteria to cause an infection. The jelly is often applied to burns and was marketed as a burn treatment when it was first discovered. It is also found in a variety of cosmetics, lotions and hair pomade. Its qualities reduce moisture loss and prevent chapped and dry skin.

Make petroleum jelly at home by melting 1 ounce of beeswax in a double-boiler or microwave. Once melted, add 1 1/2 cups of baby oil or mineral oil and stir until the mixture is cool. Store the concoction in a clean container with a lid, and keep it in refrigerator or pantry.

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