What is Petroleum Jelly? Is It Sustainable?

Last Updated on January 24, 2024

In 2022 alone, petroleum jelly gross sales collected to $131 million dollars in income. You can discover it in virtually each grocery retailer. Many dermatologists advocate it for skincare and eczema.  

But what precisely is petroleum jelly and is it good for our well being? Or the setting? 

If you’re all in favour of dwelling a zero waste, plastic-free way of life, it’s possible you’ll need to keep away from petroleum jelly just because it’s packaged in a plastic container. But packaging alone is just not the one factor to contemplate when making a purchase order: Ingredients matter too.

And, on this case, petroleum itself is a byproduct of the fossil gas business.  

This truth, nevertheless, doesn’t essentially imply petroleum jelly is outright unhealthy. It’s historical past, makes use of and advantages are complicated.

Let’s dive into what petroleum jelly is, the way it got here to be, and what you must learn about it. I’ve additionally included some extra eco-friendly and pure alternate options you need to use as an alternative.

what’s petroleum jelly made from? 

Petroleum jelly is made from refined crude oil. Lets focus on what which means. 

First off, crude oil should be extracted from the earth (usually unsustainably) after which refined into a wide selection of petroleum merchandise akin to gasoline, jet fuels, and so forth.  

According to the Department of Energy, crude oil itself is a mixture of hydrocarbons, (molecules of carbon and hydrogen) shaped from the decomposition of carbon-based plant and animal organisms that collected in historic seabed and lakes, buried underneath excessive pressures and excessive temperatures for thousands and thousands of years. 

Aka, crude oil is a fossil gas. 

Now, how does this change into crude oil change into petroleum jelly? 

Manufacturers refine the fabric right into a semi-solid, principally odorless product. They do that by distilling and filtering it to allow them to take away undesirable impurities. 

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is vaseline and petroleum jelly the identical factor? 

Vaseline and petroleum jelly are sometimes referred to interchangeably, nevertheless it’s vital to notice they’re not precisely the identical factor. 

Vaseline is a model that dates again to1859 when a chemist named Sir Augustus Chesebrough visited oil rigs in Pennsylvania to analysis what supplies might be obtained from gas.  

About ten years later, in 1870, Chesebrough launched his enterprise, Vaseline. He patented the refining course of (filtration) of petroleum to make Vaseline. 

But there’s a little bit of historical past not many are conscious of: Chesebrough was not the primary to find petroleum jelly. Native American tribes from Pennsylvania have been. 

They even developed the know-how to refine and course of it earlier than Chesebrough or anybody else. This is as a result of the oil pits in Pennsylvania belonged to the Native Americans, and so they developed floor seeps of petroleum which they cultivated for medicinal functions. 

Since Vaseline’s launch, many different manufacturers have additionally began producing their very own model of petroleum jelly.  

So, it’s vital to notice once we speak about “petroleum jelly” we aren’t solely limiting it to Vaseline’s product.  

is petroleum jelly protected on pores and skin? 

Petroleum jelly is alleged to be protected on pores and skin by most dermatologists.  

It’s an occlusive moisturizer, that means it seals moisture into the pores and skin. It creates a barrier that stops water from leaving the pores and skin and thus helps the pores and skin retain moisture. 

Petroleum jelly is mostly used to: 

  • Heal minor scrapes and burns 
  • Moisturize face, palms and extra 
  • Soothe pores and skin and relieve dryness/chapped pores and skin 
  • Prevent chafing 
  • Prevent diaper rash  
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However, petroleum jelly ought to solely be used externally. Do not eat or insert petroleum jelly internally.  

Especially keep away from utilizing petroleum jelly as a lubricant. According to Reuters, a examine of 141 girls discovered that 17 p.c used petroleum jelly internally and 40 p.c of them examined optimistic for bacterial vaginosis. 

While many individuals advocate utilizing it for chapped lips, it’s possible you’ll need to air on the facet of warning and keep away from doing so just because it’s straightforward to by accident ingest petroleum jelly when it’s in your lips. 

Very not often, some people could have petroleum jelly allergy symptoms and may keep away from utilizing petroleum jelly. Always seek the advice of a medical skilled you probably have considerations.

is petroleum jelly all pure? 

Just as a result of one thing comes from the Earth doesn’t imply it’s essentially protected. For instance, many individuals argue “pure fuel” is sweet just because it has the phrase pure in it – however it’s nonetheless a fossil gas which contributes to local weather change. 

In an identical method, petroleum jelly is just not precisely all pure as a result of it should be refined a number of instances to change into protected to make use of. Plus, it’s derived from fossil fuels, that are harming our planet. 

Vaseline particularly can also be not cruelty-free. If you didn’t know, Vaseline is owned by Unilever. Both Unilever and Vaseline state they don’t check their merchandise on animals, however they do permit their ingredient suppliers or authorities authorities to check on animals the place required by regulation. 

Cruelty-free firms have a coverage the place if the regulation requires them to check on animals, they’ll refuse to promote their merchandise underneath these situations. Since Vaseline and Unilever aren’t doing this, their merchandise can’t be thought-about cruelty-free. 

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However, there are sustainable, cruelty-free alternate options to petroleum jelly to think about using.

pure alternate options to petroleum jelly 

If you’ve determined to keep away from or swap out petroleum jelly, I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite alternate options. If you favor DIYs, you could possibly additionally strive making home made lotion.

Each of those moisturizers will get the Going Zero Waste seal of approval. Several of those manufacturers are packaged plastic free, and make the most of natural components. 

I’ve gone forward and highlighted some key options of every model, nevertheless it isn’t an exhaustive record. Be positive to take a look at their web sites for extra info. 

1. waxelene

  • All-over, multi-purpose ointment 
  • Made from USDA-certified natural components like beeswax, soy oil, and rosemary 
  • Cruelty-free and hypoallergenic 
  • Ointment is available in reusable/recyclable glass jar 
  • 2% of gross sales go to eradicating ocean plastics from the setting 


2. jao’s goe oil

  • All over physique oil 
  • Made from 28 naturally derived plant, fruit and flower oils and butters 
  • Long lasting (a little bit goes a good distance) 
  • Plastic-free aluminum tube 


3. ecoroots the whole lot balm

  • All over physique moisturizer 
  • Made with natural botanical components 
  • Vegan + cruelty-free 
  • Packaged in a recyclable/reusable glass jar 
  • Palm-oil Free, paraben-free, phthalates-free 


4. dr. bronner’s natural magic balm

  • All over physique balm 
  • Unscented + arnica-menthol choices
  • Made from licensed natural and truthful commerce components 
  • Packaged in a 2 oz reusable/recyclable tin 


So, what are your ideas on petroleum jelly? Would you turn to a extra eco-friendly various? Let me know within the feedback. 

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