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Unexpected Items Made From Crude Oil

Written by The SOE Team

Last updated 06/16/2022

Thana Prasongsin/Moment/Getty images

When thinking of items that oil produces, we might list fuel, gasoline and various plastic products. It comes as no surprise that the gasoline we put in our vehicles derives from oil. The media talks about the price of crude oil on a constant basis, with regular updates on the cost of gasoline across the nation.

What people may not hear about often are other products made from oil. Dependence on nonrenewable resources is higher than many realize, and a lot of everyday products share oil as their main ingredient. Listed below are five items you may not know come from crude oil.

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1. Vaseline®

It’s a tried-and-true product for healing cracked or dry lips. Spending time outdoors in the sun or chilly weather can cause many people’s lips to become chapped. Lip balm can take care of this problem and moisturize your lips. However, unlike other lip balm brands, Vaseline® is 100 percent petroleum jelly.  If you don’t want to use petroleum jelly for your lips, you could always use unrefined coconut oil or shea butter.

2. Yarn

While not all yarn contains materials made from oil, ever-popular acrylic yarn does. Fibers made of nylon or polyester originate from oil as well. Synthetic yarn has advantages such as moth resistance, greater elasticity, water resistance and the ability to not shrink when washed. You might be surprised to know that many clothing items contain acrylic, nylon or polyester. Socks, workout clothes, stockings and spandex all contain synthetic fibers created with oil.

3. Lotion

Hand and body lotions contain a lot of different materials, but many share petroleum as a core ingredient. Petroleum helps skin retain moisture, similar to lip balm, and contributes to a familiar oily layer above your skin. However, it can actually cause your skin to become dry by keeping moisture out. Make sure you clean and moisturize your skin before applying and be sure not to apply too much.

4. Aspirin

As a fever reducer, pain reliever and anti-inflammatory drug, aspirin is a common drug that millions of Americans take each day. What many people may not realize is that aspirin, or acetylsalicylic acid, contains a hydrocarbon called benzene that originates from coal tar. Coal is a product of crude oil, and aspirin is a byproduct, in part, of coal. If you want to cut back on chemicals, try turmeric, feverfew and butterbur instead.

5. Crayons

Crayons, a wax pastel used by children and adults to create art, originate from paraffin wax and color pigment. Paraffin wax is created from petroleum and, as you already know, petroleum is made by refining crude oil. An alternative to paraffin-based crayons are wax pastels made with beeswax.

Petroleum has a lot more uses than just fuel for our vehicles. Oil plays a large role in our society. There are alternatives to oil-based products, but they may not always be easy to find. Next time you go to the store to buy items for your home, check out the ingredients and see what may or may not have come from oil.

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