July 15, 2013

While home heating oil users will probably know that the fuel used to fire up their boilers and cooking ranges is made from oil, oil is also used to create a variety of products - some of which may come as a surprise. Here are just a few:

1. Painkillers/vitamins

The next time you head into your local pharmacy for a headache fix, or to stock up on your supply of energy-boosting vitamins, take a moment to think how these commonly used items are created.

Petrochemicals, chemical products derived from petroleum, are an active ingredient in many over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, such as aspirin. Petrochemicals are also present in synthetic vitamins, those that are manufactured synthetically, as opposed to those that are derived directly from natural sources.

2. Food

When you enter a supermarket, the last thing you would expect to see is an aisle dedicated to petroleum. While this is unlikely to occur, what you may not have realised is that some foods actually have petrochemicals contained within them.

Some food additives which are used to prolong the shelf life of canned food contain petrochemicals. Food colourings may also be made from petroleum.

3. Cosmetics

Ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol and benzene are all petrochemicals that you may find lurking in your array of lipsticks, eyeshadows and blushers.

4. Detergent

Washing dishes and clothes are tasks that few of us relish, but thanks to the wonder of detergents the job is made that much easier. Soapless detergents are derived from petrochemical glycerin.

5. Nylon

Nylon was originally intended to act as synthetic replacement for silk and has been used to great success in everything from tights to tents. Nylon is petroleum-based synthetic fibre, as are other synthetic fibres such as polyester.

From balloons to hand lotion and shaving cream, the next time you are on a shopping round you may just pick up something that contains petroleum.

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