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What is Mineral Oil?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Mineral oil is a clear, colorless, odorless, petroleum derivative. It's chemically similar to petroleum jelly and is produced in heavy and light grades, or viscosities. There are three further classifications — paraffinic, aromatic, and naphthenic — based on what type of alkanes the oil is made from, and they have slightly different chemical makeups and properties. Inexpensive and easy to make, it's used in many different products, including cooling systems, lubricants, cosmetics, and medicine.

Personal Uses

A variety of cosmetics contain mineral oil, including popular skin care products like cold cream as well as medical ointments for adults, children, and babies. In a purified, semisolid form called liquid petrolatum, it is often used as a base for salves, protective dressings, and skin softeners. It is widely believed to be one of the most effective moisturizers available.

Many people have expressed concern about the role of this oil in cosmetics, particularly that it may "block" the skin and prevent toxins from escaping. Most researchers believe that very few toxins are expressed from the body through the skin, however. Unlike some other skin care additives, research suggests that the refined type of oil used in cosmetics does not clog pores and is generally considered safe for all types of skin. People who have naturally oily skin may want to avoid items that contain it, since it can make the skin feel even more greasy.

There are also concerns that this oil could contain damaging impurities. The very refined oil that's used in personal products is not the same as that used for industrial purposes, however, and does not contain the same impurities. There may be some legitimate concern that petrolatum (another name for mineral oil jelly) and liquid paraffin may make the skin more sensitive to the sun, so people who use products that contain it should be careful to monitor their sun exposure.

Industrial and Scientific Uses

Two properties of mineral oil make it popular for use with industrial and electrical components: it doesn't conduct electricity and it is a poor conductor of heat, and it takes the place of air and water where it's applied, so it can keep parts from corroding. As such, some varieties are used on tools, machines, and even the metallic surface and components of ships to keep them from rusting. It also resists compression, so it's commonly used to provide resistance in hydraulic assemblies.

In addition to its industrial uses, mineral oil prevents the absorption of moisture from the atmosphere, so it works well as a preservative for lithium and other alkali metals. These elements react when exposed to the atmosphere, tarnishing quickly or even catching on fire or exploding, depending on the metal. Some labs also use this substance to make an overlay for cultures in petri dishes.

Culinary Uses

Wooden utensils, cookware and food preparation tools like cutting boards can benefit from this oil's water repellent properties too. Since it's nearly odorless and tasteless, highly refined, food-grade oils can be used to keep the wood from cracking and accumulating bacteria without contributing unwanted flavor or odor to foods. Some people also use it to grease pans before baking or frying. Because industrial grade oil can contain toxic impurities, cooks should only use oil that is clearly labeled as being safe for use in the kitchen.

Medical Uses

Marketed as early as the 19th century under the trade name Nujol, mineral oil has a long history as a treatment for constipation. When swallowed in small amounts, it acts as an internal lubricant and prevents the large intestine from absorbing water. This also prevents the absorption of some types of nutrients, so it can cause nutritional problems if abused.

A few drops of warm — not hot — oil can also be used to help soften ear wax. When followed by a gentle water or hydrogen peroxide irrigation, it can help remove any excess wax buildup in the ear canal.

Effects of Exposure

While most people can use mineral oil without any harmful effects, some people do have allergic reactions to it, including hives, trouble breathing, swelling of the face, and tightness of the chest. Anyone with these symptoms should seek medical care promptly, since they can be dangerous. Though there have been concerns about high viscosity oils being used as additives in food, they are considered to be generally safe when consumed in moderate amounts by government agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Exposure to aerosol forms of this substance is an occupational hazard for some workers. It's a respiratory irritant when in mist form, and people who have impaired lung function can have their condition worsen when they're exposed to it. Similarly, those with pre-existing skin disorders are more likely to develop inflammation on contact. The risk of exposure to high-concentration mists is a regulated occupational hazard that is subject to workplace monitoring in many countries.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including About Mechanics, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By anon287138 — On Aug 23, 2012

Mineral oil and various vegetable derived oils such as canola, olive, peanut, etc. are non-polar. Does this mean that they will dissolve in each other to make a hybrid oil?

By anon268012 — On May 12, 2012

Which oils are used for a gear drive temperature of 80 degrees Celsius (180F)?

By anon242294 — On Jan 23, 2012

Which type minerals are added in the drinking water at an RO plant?

By anon215145 — On Sep 17, 2011

Post 70 is uberspam. If you were allergic to Vitamin C, you'd die. Without Vitamin C, you can't synthesize the cell membrane bindings, and your body melts. QED.

And of course, mega rant going on and on about some company, herbal products, etc. There is balance. Some synthetic stuff is good, some herbal stuff is deadly or just ineffective. Sometimes you're just meant to die from disease, and synthetic drugs are a violent effort to wrest life from death; for the rest of existence, a balance of things that exist in the environment is a good prevention, but that more means control of your normal dietary intake (to be inclusive i.e. of certain chemicals produced by plants and yeasts etc, not exclusive i.e. of fats and 'bad stuff').

The bigger problem is we've gone out of balance with "new is better" and "synthetic is better." Then we see it doesn't work, and people experience a violent "old is better" "natural is better" reaction. Totally off balance.

By anon162715 — On Mar 24, 2011

Wow. I am not quite sure what possessed me to land on these sites recently but I definitely agree with a statement I read below: why do we spend so much time batting one company or against another? With all the health issues and environmental pollutants we should be banning together. Just because we are vegan certified, formulated without gluten and much more doesn’t mean someone may not be allergic or react to Vitamin C or a botanical ingredient, but I really encourage people to take into consideration what it has done and continues to do for many people.

I too, am an Arbonne independent consultant and executive area manager. I could spend this post discussing mineral oil, parabens, chemicals, etc., but all I want to say on that specific matter is to look at European standards versus United States: dermatologist tested versus dermatologist recommended, hypoallergenic differences in both countries, man-made chemicals versus ingredients from the source. If you look up ultra premium skin care, it will show Swiss products, followed by premium products, which are French and lastly, the American products.

I say do your own research. We are not in the convincing business, but provide an alternative to pharmaceutical and various other products. Having taught for nine years, I spent a great deal of time learning about Arbonne as I tend to be a skeptic. However, the real passion begins with my youngest son who was diagnosed with Autism at age 1 and a half. The first product that solidified my heart and soul with this company was someone giving me the herbal diaper cream. You see, my son suffered from a severe infection all over his bottom and nine months of heartache and doctors and home remedies could not combat the issue. I listened to the doctor’s final directions of using hydrocortisone sealed with vaseline!

Mortified at what I know now, I would like to go back and punch him in the face (sorry for the harshness as he probably did not know any better).. But just three days on the ABC line and the rash was gone! Moms can only imagine the tears I shed, so I stand by statements on mineral oil and petrolatum sealing the toxins in. Now comes the biggest triumph of all! Other than some behavioral, social and communicative minor issues that we work on together, my child is autism free. Obviously, I am no medical doctor and thank goodness, as their solution was medication when he was diagnosed but Arbonnizing our home is what I contribute to our improved health. I would regularly detox my youngest using the spa line: wash, glee, massage oil, lotion and soak. This has also happened with other children being more alert with this horrible disease.

I look back at my teaching years and what comes to mind are all the immunity disorders, ADHD and so many others. It just breaks my heart and in my opinion, environmental pollutants and cell mutations have contributed to a huge rise in these disorders from when we were young. Again, do your own research but make sure it is a credible site. Often we get tainted information from hidden medical sources or other skin care companies.

I also recommend looking up rendering plants (but unlike me, not while you are getting ready to sit down to dinner. Yuck! Nasty what they do to get animal byproducts) Do I eat vegan? No, not really, but not a lot of animal red meat. But, I do insist on my personal care products being vegan.

You see, I am not here to sell you Arbonne. I don’t ever sell Arbonne but merely share an alternative, my testimonies, let people try it for a few days free and provide them a way to purchase. Nothing like the oodles of testimonies and thank yous I get to warm one’s heart. I am incredibly thankful for this company and those who choose to use the products is a personal choice for them. I proudly continue to share my passion and the experiences my family, friends and acquaintances have endured!

Lastly, I apologize if you feel my post was a novel or any bit off topic. I felt compelled to respond. Thank you for your time.

By anon154912 — On Feb 22, 2011

TO POST 41 - anon42015 urea does not = urine

Answer: The moisturizing / softening agent, urea (carbamide)(used in Arbonne products) is not of animal origin, it is synthesized from a reaction between carbon dioxide and ammonia.

By anon153485 — On Feb 17, 2011

Arbonne consultants: please make sure you are doing your homework before posting. As anon95647 stated, it can look really bad for other consultants when there are people giving out false info just because they heard it at a training meeting.

To all else: There certainly are studies out there about cancer and petroleum based products. No matter how many times you refine it, mineral oil is still petroleum based.

Even though it might not be deemed and 'unsafe' level, what happens when you apply it every sing day or multiple times a day? The other thing is don't even bring the FDA into this discussion! They are pretty much a non-existent entity when it comes to the cosmetic industry. You hear about them all the time, but do some research and I promise you will be shocked at how very little the FDA does in that realm.

The European Union has banned over 1,000 chemicals and the US: nine. Nine! vs 1,000? Something is wrong there! By the way, the US leads the world in cancer, but they can't possibly be linked. That would be a slippery slope.

Read: The Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients and No More Dirty Looks. You will be shocked. I know I was.

Bottom line: Be aware of what you are putting on your body and in your body (regardless of brands). Be a label reader, and educate yourself because the FDA certainly isn't doing it for you!

By anon153471 — On Feb 17, 2011

OK, take a cup of water and then a cup of mineral oil (average baby oil you can find anywhere), put a saltine cracker in each. The one in water acts normal getting all mushy an will eventually breakdown completely. While the one in mineral oil, just sits there, being preserved. You can leave it in there for 30 min, or a day. it will look the same and you can still pull it back out and snap it in half. Then if you put it back in the water it will still just sit there. Tell me that's good for the skin (cell turn over, detox, etc) -- the largest organ of our body?

Petroleum, is a known carcinogenic. Is there really any safe level? I'd rather not wait until all the results become clear years from now to find out. The only reason companies use it in cosmetics (and it's in a ton of them) is because it's cheap and easy to mix. It's a filler. You get what you pay for.

By anon147292 — On Jan 28, 2011

Doesn't anyone on here know how to research? A lot of spurious claims of "it does" and "it doesn't" and "I knows". Well how do you know? Has anyone here actually researched and found a medical or scientific trial they can reference to back their claims, or is all this "knowledge" coming from various websites or magazines that can't back up their claims either.

I thought this would be an interesting topic thread, but instead it's mostly uneducated rantings. I couldn't even be bothered to read it in its entirety, so apologies if anyone has done their homework and I missed it due to the diatribe.

By anon137026 — On Dec 25, 2010

Any oil product that has a petroleum base, when used recklessly, can be damaging to our body, inside and out. If you're really looking for a natural product for skin conditioning and for synthetic makeup removal, I'd advise Genes Vitamin E Creme and it is readily available online and at many Sam's Clubs in the USA. (and it's very inexpensive).

By anon131240 — On Dec 01, 2010

Thanks for the dare. Look up mineral oil, cancer, and British Medical Journal. There's a whole article on cotton workers, industrial engineers, and scrotal cancers. Seems they knew this back in 1969. Perhaps you weren't around then. Anyhow, do your homework, next time. There are many articles in medical journals. --Nikki

By anon128998 — On Nov 21, 2010

I haven't read any scientific reports about mineral oil as a skin lubricant, but I have stopped using it as such. No matter how refined it is, it is still a petroleum based product. I had been using it because I rebel at the high cost of skin lotions. I think any oil that is used on or in our food is more likely to be safer on our skin. I presently use canola oil, but would consider any of the other food oils such as vegetable oil, olive oil. etc.

By anon125643 — On Nov 10, 2010

For the banter going back and forth regarding Arbonne. Arbonne has only one (yes, that is one) product in their range (as of May 2010) that has parabens. this being the self tanner. All other Arbonne products are paraben free.

Arbonne personal care products are formulated without: Animal products or animal by-products; formaldehyde donating preservatives; petroleum based ingredients; benzene; mineral oil; petrolatum; phthalates; toluene or PABA.

At the end of the day, opinions of each individual will be just that: opinions. All we can agree on is that the cosmetic industry has gotten away with including toxic and unnecessary ingredients for far too long. Rather than blowing up on companies trying to make a difference in this otherwise chemical filled world, we should rally together to have some sort of governing body actually stand up for consumer rights!

By anon122724 — On Oct 29, 2010

Mineral oil has been proven to cause skin cancer in alarmingly high rates in lab rats.

Think about it. Itt's an oil, it clogs pores and amplifies the effects of the sun.

It will stick around for unlimited amounts of time until you either wash it away or your pores flush it out themselves.

It's the same reason we should not eat fast food or processed foods with hydrogenated oils.

They are in almost everything designed to have a shelf life and our bodies can not break these things down in a lifetime.

Solution: don't eat the crud and pay attention to where your food comes from and what's in your cosmetic/external skin choices.

And if you make a choice to use a long lasting oil, then wash it off when you're done wearing it.

By anon119481 — On Oct 18, 2010

Mineral oil is completely nonreactive and biologically inert (incapable of reacting with anything in your skin) and it is therefore impossible for mineral oil to cause cancer or contribute to aging!

By anon95647 — On Jul 13, 2010

@anon12814 in post 16 who says: "we do use a HALF of percent of preservatives. .5 percent just enough so that it keeps you from putting your products in the refrigerator. Nothing in our products will damage your skin."

How on earth can you say something like that? If a person buys an Arbonne product from you which contains parabens and subsequently develops allergies and skin problems due to that, can they come back to you and ask you for compensation, because you came with a 100 percent guarantee saying "Nothing in our products will damage your skin"? Throwing out such blatant generalisations and guaranties shouldn't be legal for sellers of products.

You obviously do not have enough education about these things, because if you did, you would never say something like that. Then you would know your limitations and be careful because of it. You should know one thing, and that is that any little substance in a skin product can be harmful and damaging to some person's skin. There will always be some people who react to a substance.

What is reasonable to say, though, is to share which tests you do to try to avoid allergic reactions and such, as well as the experience you have from other customers, how helpful they think a product is. That is selling in an ethical way. Such statements as you made however, are highly unethical!

I have bought Arbonne products in the past, but I tell you, when I hear a seller go about their selling in the way you just did, it makes me feel like not buying from that company. And I know that many feel just like I do.

Well, I will not make this keep me from buying from Arbonne, but one thing is for sure, I hope that most Arbonne sellers think a bit more than you did when you posted that (or said that to a potential customer)!

No company benefits from sellers who throw out unsubstantiated and/or simply untrue statements, at least in the long run. Besides, if you truly have good products, you don't need to stoop to such a level!

I see somebody posted that Arbonne has stopped using parabens. If that is true, that is great. They do not list the ingredients in all their products on their site though (just "key ingredients" in some), so it's not easy to check. I see that they didn't stop using preservatives, though. It seems like they substituted parabens for Phenoxyethanol in several products (maybe all?). I don't know if that was much of a good idea, except for the fact that many know to avoid parabens, but maybe not this substance?

I read in an article that the FDA issued a warning about the substance when a company used it in a cream for nursing mothers called "Mommy Bliss". The FDA warned that phenoxyethanol can cause shut down of the central nervous system, vomiting and contact dermatitis. Sure does not sound good at all.

I sure prefer that manufacturers stay away from such substances altogether. In many cases it even gets real ridiculous, as millions of people who has different skin diseases are the ones who are those that uses the largest amounts of creams like moisturizers.

Having one skin disease and risking acquiring another because of something most consider really innocent, a moisturizer, is stupid. It should be easy to get products without these problems. And, if you use a product steadily, it normally does not get so old you don't get to use it before it goes bad.

I have never had to keep the creams I use at the moment in the fridge, and I have never had any go bad. I think the problem most often is exaggerated. I think the problems in many cases aren't as big as manufacturers make them out to be (I can see some problems though, amongst others that it is probably more problematic in warm climates).

Just to give an example: I was given some tubes of a cream with no preservatives. I put them in my basement fridge room and forgot all about them. When I finally found them, they were many years (5+) past the expiration date. I opened one and it was fine. I ended out using them all, no problem! Sure they had been refrigerated, but it was a long time.

Oh well, I'll get off my soap box now! Just had to share my opinion on some of these things!

By anon95627 — On Jul 13, 2010

@ -step in post 13 who says: "Like Advert posted it doesn't let anything good stuff get it but some of the mineral oil itself does and its not good that is what ages your skin and can cause cancer!!"

So it is mineral oil that ages people's skin? And you ask people to please believe you? Come on, that is a ridiculous statement, don't you understand that? Sure, until I have read a proper study published in a peer-reviewed recognized medical magazine, I will not say that mineral oil for sure does not play a role in the aging of skin, but to say that it is what causes aging, is simply an untrue statement! And it should be really, really easy to find scientific proof for the statement I just made. I won't bother digging it up though.

I thought we all knew that there are many factors involved in aging of skin. Different environmental factors, genetic factors, diet, things like smoking etc. etc. etc. The list is long! Mineral oil may play a role, but I wouldn't be surprised that if it does play a role, it would be a minor one, because there are so many other factors involved which has been scientifically proved to play a large role.

I am sure that if you asked somebody well educated high up in the Arbonne system (not just a seller!) or better yet, a dermatologist who has specialized in the aging of skin, they would confirm what I just said. And, an independent expert (a.k.a. not employed by Arbonne!) would probably confirm too that using Arbonne or other similar products, in itself cannot change the fact that aging of the skin will happen.

Unless other things are done too, age inevitably will show on your skin, more or less, depending on many things.

By anon95619 — On Jul 13, 2010

@Post 31. You say that all products need parabens. That is simply crap! Parabens are real allergy provoking, and certainly not good. Especially for kids with atopic dermatitis and anybody else who has allergies or has allergies in their family.

I make my own skin products with no parabens and bacteria growth is not a problem as long as you don't store for too long. I also store extra bottles/jars cold. There are cream to buy with no parabens too. Parabens are just a commercial thing, used to prolong shelf life.

If you don't need creams to last for years, avoid parabens. And, if you don't want to take chances regarding developing allergies, avoid them! That is the only way to be completely sure!

I can understand why commercial companies use them though. It simply saves them a lot of money. They can take their time with production and distribution and shops that buy their products don't have to worry about refrigerated storage or risk to having to dump lots of creams because they weren't sold in time (more correct: lessen the risk, creams and such still have an expiration date).

By anon95411 — On Jul 12, 2010

I think I read on this site that mineral oil is inexpensive. I just purchased 4.5 ounces for $5. It is a highly refined mineral oil for a sharpening stone. I would say mineral is very expensive.

I would also say, when recommending uses for mineral oil, to state carefully what grade of mineral oil you are recommending. This mineral oil meets U.S. Pharmacopoeia standards for purity. I am sure that there are lower standards out there.

By anon90431 — On Jun 16, 2010

Which mineral oil is used for manufacturing Defoamer/ antifoam agent for manufacturing of paint?

By anon74531 — On Apr 02, 2010

Thank you for your very sensible and well-thought-out post. It is very true that amount is an important factor in consideration, as well as comparing two similar environments.

I work with mineral oil every day in a health care environment for the aged. We only use it where it is needed and in small quantities. I have myself witnessed the healing that has gone on in the skin of the persons receiving the treatment.

Obviously a manufacturing environment is an unrealistic comparison due to several factors. For one, there are additional variables in the manufacturing environment that may be responsible for claimed results. These factors are not going to be present in a different environment.

For another, the type of exposure is going to vary from the consumer experience. And, as mentioned, the quantity is also going to vary.

"There are tests that seem to indicate that constant exposure to various incarnations of mineral oil in a manufacturing environment may increase the potential for skin cancer - however keep in mind this would be far more exposure than the typical consumer would ever be able to manage with standard use.

But as far as using mineral oil to remove makeup at the end of the day or applying some baby oil to rough skin after a shower or bath - at present, I do not know of any tests that are able to prove using the oil increases the chance of skin cancer with those types of applications.

- mdt "

By anon70049 — On Mar 11, 2010

is mineral oil good for softening ear wax?

By anon68464 — On Mar 02, 2010

As a child we were given monthly doses of mineral oil in order to stay regular. This went on for the first 13 years of my life. I am now 49 and very healthy. I have known for years that it was useless and bad for you, but those were the days of wives tales.

By anon67457 — On Feb 24, 2010

Why would I drink water when it has the same stuff that hydrogen cyanide is made from. There is a lot of crap in these posts. You need to remove it or your information becomes useless.

By anon62063 — On Jan 24, 2010

Vaseline is made from petroleum oil, likewise baby oil with fragrance added to it. It's great for removing makeup and many other uses. Vaseline was one of the most common substances many years ago and still today. Clean your face with mineral oil to remove makeup and then wash your face. No baby has suffered from it and at my senior age, I have great skin.

By anon55299 — On Dec 06, 2009

A prune is not a good example of human skin. All plants have a cell wall made of cellulose and a cell membrane. Whereas animal cells only have a cell membrane.

But the reason why a prune(or plum) plumps or dehydrates is because of osmosis -- the movement of water from a high concentration to a low concentration. Oil has no water, so cells containing water will migrate out of the cell to the surrounding area in an attempt to equalize the amount of water on both sides of the cell membrane.

No matter what type of oil, this will happen.

By anon45495 — On Sep 17, 2009

Whats the difference in mineral oils? They sell one to be used as a laxative and then there's one to use on non human stuff. What's the difference? Is baby oil just mineral oil with a fragrance, the same as the laxative one?

By anon42015 — On Aug 18, 2009

yes arbonne uses no mineral oil, but they use urea in their produts. urea is urine -- animal urine in arbonne products. explain that one.

By anon41285 — On Aug 13, 2009

I put mineral oil in my car and machinery, *not* on my baby. Put vegetable, cold pressed oils in your cosmetics, make-up removal or children. Don't use "mineral crap" for your skin.

By anon41162 — On Aug 13, 2009

is mineral or parafinic oil used in agriculture for preventing pests? is it beneficial? does it cause any side effects?

By anon41014 — On Aug 12, 2009

I use mineral in my essential oils -- works very well.

By anon40475 — On Aug 08, 2009

Wow! What a bunch of crap! There has never been one study suggesting a link between mineral oil and any type of cancer -- ever! I dare any of you to find a single report recognized by any major medical institution or the FDA that claims otherwise! It's a myth perpetuated by boutique snake oil product companies to justify their reason for existing! Just like the republicans are scaring everyone about death squads and termination of old people when healthcare gets fixed! Wake up, use your brains, don't be afraid to learn something new or question the crap handed to you every day. Remember, knowledge is power!

By anon38589 — On Jul 27, 2009

is mineral oil good for replacement oil in a sealed electric motor that has leaked its oil out?

By anon34609 — On Jun 25, 2009

Is mineral oil good for massage lubricant?

By nateschock — On Apr 03, 2009

While it is proven that whatever you put on your skin *is* absorbed into your body -- I've found a *new* use for Mineral Oil. *Ready*?!? -- Use Mineral Oil to *cool your computer*. That's right baby. Liquid cooling. Drown your motherboard *and* power supply, video card, RAM, fans, *everything* into a small aquarium or container and drown it in mineral oil. It is *non* Conductive *and* it absorbs heat very well. Deadly quiet. I'm using it now on my old P4 3.0 GHz. Check out Youtube & Google. Overclockers dream. But can be messy. Don't get any on the carpet. And yes, I use Arbonne products as well.

By anon28535 — On Mar 18, 2009

Mineral oil is also one of the few easy, inexpensive and safe ways to remove henna dye from hair. Unlike normal chemical dyes, henna cannot be removed by bleach or decolerant, these only strengthen the bonding of the henna to the hair and often produce strange and downright hideous results (often leaving shaving the head as your only option).

To remove henna using mineral oil, coat the hair liberally in old, wrap in clingfilm or a shower cap and leave on for 30-40 mins. This should strip the henna and leave the hair free to be redyed with commercial dyes without strange results. ~Sakura

By anon28129 — On Mar 11, 2009

I have done hours of research on this topic from dozens of sources. Here is the conclusion:

Cosmetic grade mineral oil, also known as medicinal white oil, is highly refined, with extremely low PAH levels. Cosmetic grade mineral oil has to meet stringent purity requirements defined by the US FDA and international standards. It is considered to be one of the safest, most non-irritating beauty ingredients ever found. It is known for being soothing and very helpful in wound healing, it is hypo-allergic and it works as a protective barrier, locking in the body's own moisture, against damaging elements in the surrounding environment.

A leading cosmetic company clearly acknowledges that mineral oil does not cause cancer, does not leech vitamins and minerals from the skin, and does not cause dehydration. Why then, do they have all their distributors running around putting crackers in glasses of mineral oil? ( I believe this practice has finally been stopped by the company)

By anon25103 — On Jan 23, 2009

I too, am a consultant for Arbonne (5 years) and I SWEAR by the product! Ironically, I am researching an age appropriate hypothesis on the water vs baby oil in cup! Loved the comments & I hope to build my business as well as my little one winning science fair! By the way, while we do have some ingredients in our products, parabens, it is so the bottles don't grow LEGS! Hello! All products need a that!

By jake1 — On Dec 25, 2008

Is mineral oil useful as a light lubricant?

By anon23136 — On Dec 17, 2008

In reply to 13958, coconut oil is best. Safe to eat and use on skin, stable even at room temperature, you can keep it for years and it's actually the best oil to use for cooking too (olive oil is not as stable - best used cold as a dressing). Coconut oil is a great massage oil but I don't find it a great moisturizer on its own - use a little olive oil, lanolin, fish oil and vit E etc for a better result and experiment.

Homeopaths tend to agree that mineral oils are not a healthy choice for use on humans internally or externally.

By duker777 — On Nov 19, 2008

Anybody know how to properly dispose of mineral oil? I was using it for ear drops to clear out my daughter's ears and I have almost the entire bottle left. If it's oil it shouldn't go down the drain, right? Would it qualify for a hazardous waste pick up?

By anon19422 — On Oct 12, 2008

for tree scales***4 0unces of mineral oil to one gallon water, shake well and often, spray on trees that have scale (mites) not sure of the ratio. help!

By anon16879 — On Aug 17, 2008

To the person who said "most of us were practically brought up and raised around all these chemicals and we're doing pretty OK. ;)"...the skin cancer rate now is nearly 3 times higher than it was in 1975 (National Cancer Institute). Remember when we put tanning OIL on us at the beach? We don't anymore-why? Oil is bad for us. If getting skin cancer is doing "pretty OK" then you'll probably be able to deal when you get diagnosed...

By anon15279 — On Jul 07, 2008

yeah a prune is a good equivalent of human skin, because human cells have a cell wall.

By anon14792 — On Jun 24, 2008

OK, I'll be the one to ask...what product is it that is based on nutrition for the skin on the cellular level?

By Sense — On Jun 07, 2008

Do you know most skin products still use the mineral oil? Do you there are some product does not use the mineral oil and preservatives? In fact, there is a product not only protects you from UVA and UVB but also do not use mineral oil and preservatives?

I know a a line of products based on the nutrition for the skin on the cellular level.

By anon13958 — On Jun 07, 2008

Well, mineral oil is really bad for our skin and health. Do any products not use oil and preservative with 2 years shelf life at room temp?

By anon13060 — On May 19, 2008

Try this experiment and you will understand: Put water in 2 glasses, add baby oil to one glass, add a saltine cracker to each glass & see what happens. People, your skin can't breathe with mineral oil clogging your pores. What goes on your body, goes in your body. Think!!!

By anon12854 — On May 14, 2008

I am also an Independent Consultant for Arbonne- love, love, love Arbonne. We are going paraben Free-YEAH!!!!!!

By anon12814 — On May 14, 2008

we do use a HALF of % of preservatives. .5% just enough so that it keeps you from putting your products in the refrigerator. Nothing in our products will damage your skin. Maybe you are fine now from using chemicals on your skin but others are not especially mineral oil has shown to give cancer yet doctors are still telling people to drink it up. Its crazy. Also maybe you are fine now who knows what is in your system that can cause damage later. I not trying to scare you but this is a really serious situation. I am only posting to warn everyone. I hate selling i really do, everyone who knows me asked me why i started selling Arbonne but its only because these products work! they are safe! and Everyone sees results! I would not be selling if i didn't know this!

By anon12742 — On May 13, 2008

I just want to add re: the Arbonne Consultants...yes Arbonne products don't have mineral oil in them but they do use parabens in their products. According to some studies parabens aren't that safe either. So I guess you choose which harmful chemical you use. Another thing if you think about it a lot of these chemicals are found to be unsafe only now. Most of us were practically brought up and raised around all these chemicals and we're doing pretty OK. ;)

By biglizard49 — On May 08, 2008

Can mineral oil be used to run in diesel engine?

By sdep — On May 08, 2008

I also am with Arbonne International! I too am proud to be a representative. Mineral oil IS not good for your skin!! Like Adavett posted it doesn't let anything good stuff get it but some of the mineral oil itself does and its not good that is what ages your skin and can cause cancer!! Please believe that..we do not use it.

By adaavett — On May 07, 2008

I would love to comment on this article.. I am an Independent Consultant for Arbonne; a Health and Wellness company. We have an abundance of skin care for all ages; babies, kids, teens, adults, male/female..And I am proud to say that we have NO Mineral Oil in any of our products. Mineral Oil is a saran wrap for your skin, it does not let any good stuff get in, or let any bad stuff out. I encourage any who are interested in being "Oil-Free" (and we are also Vegan Certified :) Go green!) to visit our website. I am a very proud representative!!

By anon11896 — On Apr 25, 2008

why would i put mineral oil on my skin that is made from petrolatum, same stuff that gas is made from? and why would i put mineral oil on my skin if you can use it as a substitute for car oil? weird!!! i would rather pay a little bit extra for something that is not made from mineral oil to keep my skin nice, rather than buying something that's inexpensive and let it clog my pores and make my skin look bad!

By mdt — On Apr 07, 2008

Depends on the gun. The mineral oil can weaken the seals on some guns, while other guns will respond well to the oils. Check with the manufacturer before using mineral oil as a cleaning agent or as a lubricant on the gun, just to be on the safe side.

By anon10922 — On Apr 05, 2008

What value does mineral oil have as a gun protector?

By mdt — On Apr 05, 2008

There are tests that seem to indicate that constant exposure to various incarnations of mineral oil in a manufacturing environment may increase the potential for skin cancer - however keep in mind this would be far more exposure than the typical consumer would ever be able to manage with standard use.

Most of us who grew up running around in the sun during the 1960's and 1970's may recall using baby oil to get a tan quicker - not a good thing at all. Mineral oils, including baby oil, do nothing to protect the skin from the effects of overexposure to sunlight. If anyone is using these oils in place of a sunscreen, or thinking that the mineral oil in their makeup is protecting their skin from the sun's rays, they need to make some changes. Mineral oils offer no protection from the sun.

But as far as using mineral oil to remove makeup at the end of the day or applying some baby oil to rough skin after a shower or bath - at present, I do not know of any tests that are able to prove using the oil increases the chance of skin cancer with those types of applications.

By ilovejonstewart — On Apr 04, 2008

is it true that mineral oil is a major cause of skin cancer, second only to the sun? i just heard this recently, which scares me because i use a product that contains mineral oil on my children.

By anon10879 — On Apr 04, 2008

Also, I was not aware that the skin of a prune was a reasonable experimental substitute for human skin.

By anon10152 — On Mar 20, 2008

Good comparison, drench it in oil vs. a moisturizing spray? Like siting in a bathtub vs running through a sprinkler...

By anon9316 — On Mar 03, 2008

researchers today found that mineral oil is bad for the skin. Take a prune, put it in a jar, pour mineral oil into the jar, look at it wrinkle. vs take a prune, put it in humectant moisturizer spray in a jar and look at it plump. tell me why would I want to put mineral oil on my body?

By anon8632 — On Feb 18, 2008

Is it safe to drink mineral oil (baby oil) for constipation ?

By anon8393 — On Feb 12, 2008

Is mineral oil dangerous for skin, if used on the face? I mean, in time?

By rjohnson — On Feb 05, 2008

Pretty crazy that one product can be used to clean the eyes _and_ as a substitute for car oil! Who knew the seemingly endless possibilities for mineral oil!

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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