Thursday, July 31, 2008


I used to move all the time. This lent itself to a strange, disengaged feeling of nothing being connected in the world.

The internet proves that reality completely ridiculous.
This project, too.

I looked up oil and ubiquitous today.

Due to its low price and ubiquitous supply, mineral oil has been pressed into service in a wide variety of capacities. Most of these exploit its properties as a low-toxicity, non-reactive general purpose lubricant and coolant.


Mineral paraffinic oil is sometimes taken orally as a laxative. It lubricates feces and intestinal mucous membranes, and limits the amount of water removed from feces. Typically, mineral oil is effective within as little as six hours. While it has been reported that mineral oil may be absorbed when emulsified, most information shows that it passes harmlessly through the gastrointestinal system.

If used at all, mineral oil should never be given internally to young children, pets, or anyone with a cough, hiatus hernia, or nocturnal reflux, and should be swallowed with care. Due to its low density, it is easily aspirated into the lungs, where it cannot be removed by the body and can cause serious complications such as lipoid pneumonia.[3] While popular as a folk remedy, there are many safer alternatives available. In children, if aspirated, the oil can work to prevent normal breathing, resulting in death of brain cells and permanent paralysis.

Mineral oil with added fragrance is marketed as baby oil in the US, UK and Canada. While baby oil is primarily marketed as a generic skin ointment, other applications exist in common use. It is best to use this oil on infant "diaper rashes" to ease the inflammation, and allow absorption into the epiditimitousary level of the skin. Mineral or baby oil is often used in small quantities (2–3 drops daily) to clean ears. Over a couple of weeks, the mineral oil softens dried or hardened earwax so that a gentle flush of water can remove it. In the case of a damaged or perforated eardrum, however, mineral oil should not be used, as oil in the middle ear can lead to ear infections. It is also a recommended way of removing an insect from the ear of a human. A few drops drowns the bug, which can then be easily removed.

Mineral oil is used as suspending and levigating agent in sulphur-based ointments.[citation needed]

Veterinary medicine

Certain mineral oils are used in livestock vaccines, as an adjuvant to stimulate a cell-mediated immune response to the vaccinating agent. In the poultry industry, plain mineral oil can also be swabbed onto the feet of chickens infected with scaly mites on the shank, toes, and webs. Mineral oil suffocates these tiny parasites. In beekeeping, food grade mineral oil saturated paper napkins placed in hives are used as a treatment for tracheal and other mites.


Mineral oil is a commonly-found ingredient in baby lotions, cold creams, ointments and low-grade cosmetics as an alternative to more expensive oils. According to some sources, use of mineral oil cosmetics commonly leads to acne[citation needed]. It can be used on eyelashes to prevent brittleness and breaking and, in cold cream, is also used to remove creme makeup and temporary tattoos.

Mechanical and industrial

Mineral oil is used in a variety of industrial/mechanical capacities as a non-conductive lubricant. Refined mineral oil is used as transformer oil. Electric space heaters sometimes use it as a heat-transfer oil, and it can be used generically as a coolant in electric components as it does not conduct electricity.

Because it does not absorb water from the air, mineral oil can be used as an automotive, aviation, and bicycle brake fluid.

Light mineral oil is also used in textile industries and used as a jute batching oil.

See also lubricant

[edit] Preservative

Since it does not absorb atmospheric moisture, mineral oil is useful as a protective coating or bath for water-sensitive materials. Alkali metals like Lithium are often submerged in mineral oil for storage or transportation.

Mineral oil is also often used as a coating on metal tools and weapons, knives in particular, as a way to inhibit oxidation. Nihonto, for example, are traditionally coated in Choji oil which consists of 99% mineral oil and 1% oil of cloves. The use of oil of cloves is sometimes explained as a means of differentiating sword oil from cooking oil to prevent accidental ingestion, but may also be purely aesthetic.

Mineral oil can be used as a leather conditioner as well, though most shoe polishes use naphtha, lanolin, turpentine and Carnauba wax instead.

Food preparation

Mineral oil's ability to prevent water absorption, combined with its lack of flavor and odor, make it a popular preservative for wooden cutting boards and utensils. Rubbing a small amount of mineral oil into a wooden cutting board periodically will prevent absorption of food odors and ease cleaning, as well as maintaining the integrity of the wood, which is otherwise subjected to repeated wetting and drying in the course of use.

It is occasionally used in the food industry (particularly for candy). In this application, it is typically used for the glossy effect it produces, and to prevent the candy pieces from adhering to each other. Some studies suggest that prolonged use might be unhealthy because of low accumulation levels in organs.[citation needed] It has been discouraged for use in children's foods, though it is still occasionally found in candies in China and Canada.[citation needed]

It can be used as a release agent for baking pans and trays, but food oils like vegetable oil are a more popular choice.

[edit] Cleaning

Mineral oil can be used to clean heavier oil stains by diluting and liquefying the other oils, rendering the oils more accessible to detergents. Likewise, it can be employed to "de-gum", to remove adhesive residue left by price tags or adhesive tape. It can be used as a cleaner and solvent for inks in fine art printmaking as well as in oil painting, though turpentine is more often used.

Mineral oil is also used in some guitar string cleaners, since it can help mobilize dirt and oil without contributing to the oxidization of the metal strings.

Mineral oil can leave a residue, which is undesirable in some applications.

[edit] Firespinning

Mineral oil is the main fuel used by professional firespinners and firebreathers. It is chosen for its high flashpoint and low burning temperature. As a firebreathing fuel it is ideal because it will not tend to burn as a liquid, due to the high flashpoint, thus preventing blowback.

[edit] Miscellaneous

Mineral oil's ubiquity has led to its use in some niche applications as well.

* Mineral oil is used to darken soapstone countertops for aesthetic purposes.
* It is commonly used to create a "wear" effect on new clay poker chips, which can otherwise only be accomplished through prolonged use. The chips are either placed in mineral oil (and left there for a short amount of time), or the oil is applied to each chip individually, then rubbed clean. This removes any chalky residue leftover from manufacture, and also improves the look and "feel" of the chips.[citation needed]
* It has a high refractive index, so it is sometimes used in oil immersion microscopes.
* It is the main ingredient in some types of gel-type scented candles.[citation needed]
* It is an effective pesticide, particularly for edible plants. It's effective against a wide range of insects and all stages of insect development.[citation needed]
* Mineral Oil has been used to immerse computers in order to absorb heat and cool the system in some custom-built projects.
* Mineral oil is used in some household cleaners but has been proven to have no real cleaning benefits.[citation needed]
* It is sometimes used as a personal lubricant (although it is not safe for use with latex condoms), and as an alternative to plant or herbal oils for massage.

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