I’M JUST CURIOUS: The many uses for mineral oil

by Debbie Walker

When I have questions there seems to always be someone there with the answers. We have a wonderful reader who knows I am interested in older ways. To me, mineral oil is one of those things. I don’t remember seeing it in our house when I was growing up but my great-grandmother had a bottle on her kitchen counter, along with her witch hazel. Our reader emailed about the different uses and here we are, using them to inform you, too. Thank you, Doc.

Doc tells me when he was a pharmacist in the ‘60s mineral oil was widely used, primarily as a laxative, orally as well as an enema. In fact, it is still used today. (Now, I just know you are thrilled with that little piece of info.) It is used mainly as a lubricant – for the skin – cosmetics (it doesn’t clog pores) – preserving wood products – etc. You will be surprised as you read on:

Common in many cosmetics and lotions:

Use as a fragrance-free baby oil. Baby oil is mineral oil with fragrance. You can use mineral oil in place of baby oil but not use baby oil as mineral oil. The fragrance is the difference.

Remove oil-based makeup, even theatrical makeup. Can be used as moisturizer for Moisturizer: Contrary to popular belief, mineral oil does not cause acne or blackheads. “It’s molecular structure is too large to penetrate pores, so it moisturizes by creating a barrier on top of the skin that keeps moisture in. Soften cracked heels.

Can be used in preserving wood products especially in the kitchen, cutting boards and utensils. It’s more hygienic. And unlike olive or veggie oil, it won’t go rancid.

Plain old mineral oil will give your wood the exact same look as commercial products, without the smell and the cost.

Condition wood furniture.

Poor a bit on a wood floor or stairs to prevent wood creaking. (my house in Maine had that problem). And silence a creaky door.

Shine appliances, remove stickers, cleans rusted garden tools, remove oil-based and latex paints from skin, honing and polishing oil, has also been used for brake fluid, just like the man said, the list of uses just goes on. In fact, it bounces right over to treating mites in dog’s ears, kill aphids and other plant pests.

One thing that I was interested in was the use to protect skin in freezing weather. “Old time arctic explorers went out of their way to avoid washing their faces to preserve the protective layer of natural skin oil to prevent chapping. Because it provides such a good barrier against the elements, mineral oil is a great product to protect exposed skin in cold climates.” It makes me remember back to when Deana used to run inside from the snow, cold and her little face so cold and red, maybe…

I can only guess that many of us never knew the many uses for mineral oil and its effectiveness and cost-effective uses without all the other added ingredients of today’s products. It’s funny how in looking back to products of the past many of us are really wondering, where is the real improvement. It’s certainly not in the costs, and I am wondering, do we really need all those added chemicals. Talk to some of your elders and see what you find out and please let me know.

Mineral oil can be found in the pharmacy department at your local grocery store, at a pharmacy or at Wal-Mart.

I’m just curious what we will find. I am at debbiewalker@townline.org. thanks for reading and have a great week! Thanks again, Doc!


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