What Are Whale Body Parts Used For?

Almost every body part of a whale can be used either directly or made into another product. A whale's oil, meat, spermaceti and bones can all be used by humans, some in multiple ways.

The meat and oil of baleen whales is used for human consumption. Though not a common food in most of the world, many Japanese include whale meat in their diet. Whale oils are manufactured into cooking oils and margarine. Sperm whale meat and oil are not typically meant for human consumption, but the meat is processed into whalemeal and stock feed additive for other animals.

Spermaceti, a waxy substance from the heads of sperm whales, was once used to make candles, soaps, polishes and cosmetics. The oil from the sperm whale was also historically used to fuel lamps and, in modern times, has been used for machinery lubrication. It withstands more pressure and higher temperatures than mineral oil, making it the preferred lubricant.

Whale blubber is useful for making soaps and oils. The Inuit and other native peoples of the Artic region depend on whale blubber for certain nutrients and minerals they would not otherwise have in their diet. The baleen from baleen whales, a type of hair-like filter that helps whales sift plankton in their mouths, was used to make corsets, carriage springs, fishing poles, whips and umbrella ribs in the 19th and early 20th centuries, though these products are now made using plastic or metal.