On 4 June, 1872, “a new and useful product from petroleum” was patented by Robert A. Chesebrough, which he gives the name every household knows – Vaseline. When this young chemist visited the new oilfields in Pennsylvania in 1865, he discovered a paraffin-like substance which accumulated on the oil well sucker rods. He also realized oil workers in the drilling fields were routinely using this “goop” on abrasions, burns and other wounds received in the field.
Chesebrough returned to New York and began the process of purifying the substance in his laboratory, creating the first petroleum jelly. He tested the product on various minor cuts and wounds successfully, leading to the patent of Vaseline 145 years ago which proclaimed the healing benefits of the purified petroleum jelly, as well as its use as a lubricant, leather treatment, pomade for the hair and balm for chapped hands. Chesebrough even began consuming a spoonful of Vaseline daily and lived to the ripe old age of 96!
Petroleum Product Nylon Keeps us from Brushing our Teeth with Hog Bristles!
The world's first synthetic fiber, nylon, is a petroleum product discovered by DuPont Chemists in 1935. The first commercial use of this revolutionary petroleum product was for toothbrushes.
Did you know?
Shampoo and bubble bath typically contain amine oxides, a petroleum product. Read More
From the Huffington Post
Nothing shows how pervasive and malleable petrochemicals are better than shampoo, said Kevin Swift, director of economics and statistics for the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s trade association. The bottle is plastic. The cap is plastic. The seal and the label, too. The ink comes from petrochemicals and even the glue that holds the label to the bottle comes from oil or gas.
“The shampoo - it’s all derived from petrochemicals,” Swift said. “A bottle of shampoo is about 100 percent chemistry.”
Right after Chesebrough’s patent in 1872, dozens of wagons immediately began distribution of Vaseline in New York City. Within 10 years, Americans were buying it at the rate of a jar a minute. Not long after, young ladies began to mix this petroleum jelly with lamp black, creating the first impromptu mascara.
Young Miss Mabel Williams employed this method of darkening her lashes in 1913 and her brother Tom was fascinated by the process. He began mixing petroleum jelly with coal black, which he sold via mail-order catalog under the name “Lash-Brow-Ine” (incorporating the “ine” from the Vaseline used to create the product). It was a huge success. Marketed on the movie screen, magazines and Sunday newspapers, Maybelline mascara became available at the local dime store for 10 cents a cake.
From offering healthy, moisturized skin for 145 years to becoming the basis of mascara, a staple in women’s fashion, petroleum jelly and its many uses have changed life as we know it.
Read more about the creation of Vaseline and Maybelline Mascara on the American Oil & Gas Historical Society website.
Pricing its toothbrush at 50 cents, the Weco Products Company guaranteed “no bristle shedding.” Johnson & Johnson of New Brunswick, New Jersey, will introduce a competing nylon-bristle toothbrush in 1939. More details from American Oil & Gas Historical Society.
Everything about shampoo is created by oil and gas, from the inside out.
The raw material for contact lenses is a plastic polymer. Hard contact lenses are made of some variant of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA). Soft contact lenses are made of a polymer such as poly hydroxyethylmethacrylate (pHEMA) that has hydrophilic qualities, that is, it can soak up water and still retain its shape and optic functions. Learn more.
Dentures use acrylic resins for the teeth and plastics for the mounting frames. Even denture cream is an oil and gas product!
On February 24, 1938, the Weco Products Company of Chicago, Illinois, began selling its new “Dr. West’s Miracle-Tuft” – the earliest toothbrush to use synthetic DuPont nylon bristles.
Americans will soon brush their teeth with nylon – instead of hog bristles, declared an article in the New York Times.
“Until now, all good toothbrushes were made with animal bristles,” noted a 1938 Weco Products advertisement in Life magazine. “Today, Dr. West’s new Miracle-Tuft is a single exception. It is made with EXTON, a unique bristle-like filament developed by the great DuPont laboratories, and produced exclusively for Dr. West’s.”
Take the Plunge...into Reality
Oil and gas products are found in many objects in your bathroom. From the plastic bottles which hold your shampoo, conditioner and hairspray to Vaseline and moisturizer, these items are essential to getting ready each day. Many products from your plunger down to your very toilet seat!
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