Q:

Where does mineral oil come from?

A:

Quick Answer

Mineral oil consists of mixtures of hydrocarbons obtained from petroleum by distillation. Mineral oil is most commonly used as a lubricant in the manufacture of cosmetics and in medicine as a laxative.

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Full Answer

Mineral oil is a colorless, oily, almost tasteless, water-insoluble liquid. It's usually a standard light-density oil or a standard heavy-density oil. Some other names for mineral oil include white oil, liquid paraffin, pariffinum liquidum and liquid petroleum. Baby oil is perfumed mineral oil.

Mineral oil is used in a variety of fields including medical, veterinary, food preparation and cosmetics, among others. Mineral oil of special purity is used in IVF procedures. Select mineral oils are used in livestock vaccines to stimulate a response to the vaccinating agent. Different types of mineral oil also have uses in the poultry and beekeeping industries.

Because it doesn't absorb water, food-grade mineral oil is used as a preservative for wooden kitchen utensils, dishes and cutting boards. Small amounts are used in candy to give it a glossy appearance and prevent sticking, although amounts are limited due to its laxative effect.

In the cosmetics industry, mineral oil is a common ingredient in baby lotions, cold creams and ointments. Mineral oil can be used on eyelashes to prevent brittleness and breaking. In cold cream, mineral oil is used to remove make-up and temporary tattoos.

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