Tag Archives: mineral oil

MINERAL OIL

One of the most controversial substances in skin-care is mineral oil. Mineral oil is derived from the petroleum industry, it is one of many substances derived from crude oil that is pumped up from the bowels of the earth. Crude oil is, by definition, a natural product since it is created by the earth itself as opposed to man-made, it is even an organic product…crude oil, that is. (See earlier posts on natural substances under skin-care)

Crude oil in its natural state can’t be used so it is refined by chemical and physical processes. By fractionating the crude oil with different temperatures a variety of substances are obtained:

  • 25-100 degrees celsius; propane and gasoline
  • 100-180 degrees celsius; heavy gasoline
  • 160-250 degrees celsius; paraffin
  • 220-350 degrees celsius; diesel
  • 360-400 degrees celsius; heating oil and lubricating oil
  • >400 degrees celsius; asphalt, tar and paraffin oil

From the paraffin oil other substances are derived such as: paraffin oil, paraffin, paraffin-wax in different levels of firmness; vaseline is a half-firm paraffin-wax. Other products that originates from some of these fractions are: plastic, solvents, emulsifiers, medicine, cloth, aromatic substances for food and perfume and much more.

(this information is taken from the book “Guldet från växterna” by Finn Andersen.)

Many now banned substances in skin-care come from the petroleum-industry and have been found to be hazardous to humans. Everybody agrees that they should be banned and laws have been passed to give more insight in what goes into skin-care. (see earlier posts under skin-care) But the controversial mineral oil ( vaseline, paraffine) is still on the market… There are 2 schools of thought; pro and anti:

PRO mineral oil:

  • Cheap (about 1 us dollar/kg)
  • Stable – will not go bad…ever…
  • Protective layer
  • Inert
  • Lubricating

ANTI mineral oil:

  • Our bodies do not recognize it
  • Clog the pores
  • Stops skin-breathing and hinders elimination of waste-products through skin
  • Diminishes natural sebum-production in skin


There is research that show negative effects of mineral oil. see here and here There is also research showing it to be non-toxic at normal doses for most people. When a substance is so easily acquired (goes automatically when fractionating all the other stuff) at such a low cost, never goes bad and can do thousands of different things…I do not trust the pro that much…of course industry wants to keep this very versatile product on the market… It’s all about the money.

Mineral oil is used widely as a laxative and there have been reports of negative side-effects. Castor oil (Ricinus communis) is a much better alternative; affordable, natural and works with the body.

And the oilspills? Nature dies, people get sick… For more info on health hazards from crude oil look here, where it actually says:

“Although a variety of hydrocarbon products produced from petroleum have specific toxic effects, the toxicity of crude light petroleum itself to humans is relatively low. (Stellman 2007) This may be due, in part, to the lower concentrations of individual fractions in crude oil as compared to the higher concentrations expected in refined products.”


Personal experience:

Vaseline once had a publicity stating; “softer skin in 8 days or your money back“. There is no problem making this statement; vaseline (mineral oils) will give you softer skin in 8 days. The problem is that skin-conditions cannot change that fast, it is only a cosmetic and superficial change; it takes 28 days for a new-born skin-cell to reach the surface, and only then will you see any kind of result.

I never ever use mineral oils for skin-care or lip-balm or anything to do with my skin-health. I refused all store-bought baby-products for my children because of the mineral-oil which is used in almost all baby-products.

I have used vaseline in other ways with brilliant results…it’s like liquid plastic and it keeps the area soft:

  • Horses: For mudfever (I think it’s called in English) when the leg above the hoof gets infected because of humidity. The condition is not easily treated and can turn very serious. I mix essential oil and other active substances in vaseline. The vaseline works as an efficient protector against humidity and the active substances are released into the wound (skin).
  • Necrosis; where infection eats away the skin and creates craters. To ensure healing from within the crater I stuff compresses with essential oil and vaseline in the wound before dressing it. The vaseline stops the compress from getting stuck in the wound and the active substances work their healing on a deep level in the crater. Without the compress in the crater, risk is superficial healing in the top skin-layers, leaving bacteria to grow beneath.

At the end of the day; do we want to use something that comes from such a horrible industry; 1)it is non-renewable and nobody knows what happens to the planet when we empty her bowels. 2) Look what it does to nature when there are spills. This alone is enough for me to choose other options, even if they may be costlier.

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A GIFT FROM NATURE: VEGETABLE OILS

Some of the absolutely best products nature offers are fats and oils. They are rich in all kinds of minerals, vitamins and pure life-force. We  use vegetable oils and fats in our daily life without even thinking about it as an essential part of health. Just as a pure, unadulterated cold-pressed vegetable oil can bring positive results to our health, so can “treated” oils be outright health-hazards.

There are oils and oils…

  • Mineral oils: Also called vaseline, paraffin. They are a bi-product from the petrochemical industry (together with diesel, plastic, asphalt and much more…). They are widely used by the cosmetics industry as they are cheap and stable. Most baby-oils are mineral-oil with a bit of perfume. Mineral oils clog the pores and halts normal skin-function. They might seem softening at first, but over time mineral-oil deteriorates the skin, leaving it dry and brittle. Mineral oils contain nothing whatsoever that is beneficial to humans and they come from a non-renewable source. This is NOT a vegetable oil!
  • Cold pressed vegetable oils: Seeds and nuts are pressed in mills without any added heat, though the friction of the mill can after some time create heat up to 70 degrees celsius, hence the different “degrees” of cold-pressed oils. For high-quality cold-pressed vegetable oils, smaller amounts are pressed each time, so as not to create friction-heat. The yield is lower than when heat is used and these oils are usually pressed by small growers or millers. The remaining pulp is used as animal-fodder. After filtering the oil is bottled. These oils have their own specific scent and color and they contain essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. If stored properly (cool and dark) the shelf-life is 1-3 years, depending on the amount of mono and unsaturated fatty acids in the oil.
  • Heat pressed vegetable oils: Seeds and nuts are ground to a pulp and heated to about 100 degrees celsius. The heated pulp is then pressed to extract the oil. By heating, more oil can be extracted. The remaining pulp is then re-heated and re-pressed to yield as much oil as possible. After extraction the oils are centrifuged to remove particles.
  • Extraction: This method is often used together with heat-pressing to extract the maximum amount of oil possible. A solvent, Hexane , is used to extract the oil. The raw material (pulp) is mixed with hexane, filtered and distilled. Since hexane has a lower boiling-point than the oil, it becomes gaseous and is distilled off, only to be collected and re-used since it turns into  a liquid once it’s cooled.
  • Refining: This is done with all vegetable oils that are used by cosmetics and  food-industry (heat-pressed and solvent-extracted oils).
  1. Lecithin and proteins are removed with the help of phosphor or citric acid.
  2. Fatty acids are removed with the help of lye (caustic soda), which creates a kind of soap that is washed out with water. Then the oil is vaccum-dried.
  3. Bleaching is done by mixing the oil with oxygen-activated mud which is then filtered off.
  4. Deodorising is done to remove scent and taste from the oil. It is done by low-pressure steam-boiling at a temperature of 200 degrees celsius.

There are a few more processes that the oil might go through before being sent off to its destination. Would you ever want to eat or use these processed products? Not only do they contain NOTHING of value, they might as well be harmful. Many years ago there was a scandal in Spain concerning vegetable oils, people died. The reason was that the lye used to refine the oil was not properly removed…the lye corroded the intestines of these people.

A cold-pressed vegetable oil will cost a little bit more, it will be less stable – going rancid with time or bad storage. It will have a taste and scent. Knowing this, do you really believe that you should use the oils you find in the supermarket? The ones sitting on the shelves in a warm and light environment? The ones with no taste, smell or color? I distrust everything that doesn’t go bad over time.


My friend and mentor Jan Kusmirek has written a wonderful book on vegetable oils called “Liquid Sunshine“. You can find it here.