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Saturday, 22 February 2020
Paraffin oil
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Paraffin oil is the term generally used to describe any solid or liquid mixture of purified saturated, aliphatic hydrocarbons (paraffins) obtained from petroleum. A distinction is made between 'viscous paraffin' (Paraffinum liquidum or Paraffinum subliquidum), 'low-viscosity paraffin' (Paraffinum perliquidum) and 'hard paraffin' (Paraffinum solidum), this distinction being based primarily upon viscosity.

Paraffin, whatever the type, is obtained: 1) by distilling petroleum residue, bituminous shale or peat and output from low-temperature lignite carbonisation, or, 2) by means of a medium-pressure synthetic process involving the use of CO and H2, with catalysts (modified Fischer-Tropsch-synthesis). Paste (paraffin slack wax) precipitated during petroleum distillation is cooled, de-oiled and bleached to yield hard paraffin. In contrast, liquid paraffin is obtained by distillation. All types of paraffin, except the hard form, are colourless, clear, oily, non-fluorescent in daylight, entirely or virtually odourless, tasteless liquids. It is only when they are heated that they give off a faint smell. Paraffins are insoluble in water, poorly soluble in ethanol and soluble in ether and hydrocarbons.

Paraffins are used in Medicine and in cosmetics, in ointments and creams, also as a mild laxative. Paraffins are also used in the production of candles, floor treatment preparations, wood and metal polishes, car care materials, grinding paste and tap grease, grafting waxes, cosmetic pencils, modelling materials, suspensions used in infrared spectroscopy (Nujol), embedding media used in microscopy, heating baths used in chemical apparatus (transformer oils), chemical lubricants used in high-precision mechanisms (oils for weapons), linoleum, waxed papers, for waxing fruit and cheeses and as a wetting agent (snuff). One totally different use for paraffin is as a method of controlling dust (e.g. keeping sawdust under control at equestrian events).

INCI Name: Paraffinum Liquidum
 

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