Parafin oil


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Cell culture

  • Mineral oil of special purity is often used as an overlay covering microdrops of culture medium in petri dishes, during the culture of oocytes and embryos in IVF and related procedures. The use of oil presents several advantages over the open culture system: it allows for several oocytes and embryos to be cultured simultaneously, but observed separately, in the same dish; it minimizes concentration and pH changes by preventing evaporation of the medium; it allows for a significant reduction of the medium volume used (as few as 20 microlitres per oocyte instead of several millilitres for the batch culture); and it serves as a temperature buffer minimizing thermal shock to the cells while the dish is taken out of the incubator for observation.


  • Over the counter veterinarian use mineral oil is intended as a mild laxative for pets and livestock. 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. It is also used along with a cotton swab to remove un-shed skin on reptiles such as lizards and snakes.


  • Mineral oil is a common ingredient in baby lotions, cold creams, ointments and cosmetics. It is a lightweight inexpensive oil that is odorless and tasteless. It can be used on eyelashes to prevent brittleness and breaking and, in cold cream, is also used to remove creme make-up and temporary tattoos. One of the common concerns regarding the use of mineral oil is its presence on several lists of comedogenic substances. These lists of comedogenic substances were developed many years ago and are frequently quoted in the dermatological literature.
  • The type of highly refined and purified mineral oil found in cosmetic and skincare products is noncomedogenic (does not clog pores).

Mechanical, electrical and industrial

An electrical radiator that uses mineral oil as a heat transfer fluid
  • Mineral oil is used in a variety of industrial/mechanical capacities as a non-conductive coolant or thermal fluid in electric components as it does not conduct electricity and functions to displace air and water. Some examples are in transformers, where it is known as transformer oil,[9] and in high-voltage switchgear, where mineral oil is used as an insulator and as a coolant to disperse switching arcs. The dielectric constant of mineral oil ranges from 2.3 at 50 °C (122 °F) to 2.1 at 200 °C (392 °F).
  • Electric space heaters sometimes use mineral oil as a heat transfer oil. Because it is noncompressible, mineral oil is used as a hydraulic fluidin hydraulic machinery and vehicles. It is used as a jute batching oil, cutting fluid, and lubricantSpindle oils are light mineral oils used as lubricants in textile industries.
  • An often cited limitation of mineral oil is that it is poorly biodegradable; in some applications, vegetable oils such as cottonseed oil or rapeseed oil may be used instead.

Food preparation

  • Food grade mineral oil has an E number of E905a, although it is not approved in food products in the European Union, and incidental amounts in foods are carefully regulated. Because of its properties that prevent water absorption, combined with its lack of flavor and odor, food grade mineral oil is a popular preservative for wooden cutting boards, salad bowls and utensils. Rubbing a small amount of mineral oil into a wooden kitchen item periodically will impede absorption of food liquids, and thereby food odors, and ease cleaning. By impeding water absorption, wetting and drying cycles, which can cause cracks or splits in wood, are reduced although some of the mineral oil is picked up by the food and ingested. Outside of the European Union, it is occasionally used in the food industry, particularly for confectionery. In this application, it is typically used for the glossy effect it produces, and to prevent the candy pieces from adhering to each other. It has been discouraged for use in children's foods, though it is still found in many confectioneries, including Swedish Fish. The use of food grade mineral oil is self-limiting because of its laxative effect. The maximum daily intake is calculated to be about 100 mg, of which some 80 mg are contributed from its use on machines in the baking industry.
  • It is sometimes used as a lubricant in enema preparations, because most of the ingested material is excreted in the stool rather than being absorbed by the body.

Other uses

Applying mineral oil to a butcher block counter top
  • Mineral oil's ubiquity has led to its use in some niche applications as well. It is used for treating and preserving wooden butcher block counter tops. It is recommended by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine for use as a fertility-preserving vaginal lubrication. The degrading effect of oils on latex condoms should be borne in mind.
  • Mineral oil is commonly used to create a "wear" effect on new clay poker chips, which can otherwise be accomplished only through prolonged use. Either the chips are placed in mineral oil (and left there for a short period of time) or the oil is applied to each chip individually, then the chip is rubbed clean. This removes any chalky residue left over from manufacture, and also improves the look and "feel" of the chips.
  • It is used as the principal fuel in some types of gel-type scented candles.
  • It is used for cooling, for example liquid submersion cooling of components in some custom-built computers. Veterinarian-grade mineral oil is an inexpensive source for mineral oil and is frequently used by amateur radio operators as coolant in RF dummy loads. Mineral oil is typically used as the insulating and cooling fluid in large electrical equipment such as transformers.
  • Mineral oil is used as a brake fluid in some cars and bicycle disc brakes.
  • It is used for polishing alabaster in stonework and lubricating and cleaning pocket knives or food handling tools that use an open bearing, thus needing periodic lubrication. Light mineral oil (paraffinum perliquidum) is used as a honing oil when sharpening edge tools (such as chisels) on abrasive oil stones. Mineral oil USP or light mineral oil can be used as an anti-rust agent for blades.
  • It is an inexpensive alternative for storing reactive metals (lithium, sodium, etc.).
  • Horticultural oil is often made of a combination of mineral oil and detergent. It is sprayed on plants to control scale, aphid and other pest populations by suffocation.
  • It is used to overlay polymerase chain reactions in biotechnology to prevent loss of water during heating cycles. It is often used to suspend crystals for use in X-ray crystallography.
  • It is used as a transparent collision material for reactions in particle physics, as in the MiniBooNE neutrino oscillation experiment.
  • As a relatively low heat combustible with no flavor or odor, mineral oil can be used in firebreathing and firedancing, but there is an inherent risk of injury.
  • Paraffin oil is also commonly being used to fill Galileo thermometers. Due to paraffin oil's freezing temp being lower than water (approx. 24 °F or −4 °C), this makes them less susceptible to freezing during shipment or when temporarily being stored in a non-climate-controlled environment.