Mineral oil is obtained as a byproduct obtained during the refining of crude oil/petroleum. Many other byproducts are also obtained in the process such as gasoline, petrol, diesel etc. Mineral oil is a colorless, odorless liquid which is also known as paraffin oil. Mineral oil is a composition of higher alkanes, cycloalkanes and related to petroleum jelly. It is the prerogative of a lubricant.
Mineral oil comprises of a mixture of compounds of hydrogen and carbon that typically contain 26-40 carbons. Mineral oil also acts as a fuel, an illuminant and as a raw material in a wide range of industries. 95% of the lubricant market is based on mineral oil.
It helps in preventing the loss of moisture and hence, it’s a favorite of cosmetic industry. For instance, mineral oil is the fragrant-free baby oil. The added fragrance may not serve all babies well and is the cause of irritation and rashes.
Moreover, mineral oil is helpful in removing skin rashes and diaper rashes. Also, it serves as the primordial ingredient in ointments used to cure skin burns.
When it comes to removing the theatrical makeup which is often dark and glossy, mineral oil serves its purpose. Also, it’s great to use to remove eye makeup as mineral oil doesn’t damage the delicate skin around the eyes. Mineral oil strictly doesn’t cause acnes or rashes.
Its molecules are too big to penetrate the skin pores so; it acts as barrier on the top of the skin, thereby acting as a moisturizer. Hence, it’s great to use in winters and in countries that have low temperatures around the year. It’s cheap and hence, a favorite of cosmetic industry.
All the more, mineral oil acts in healing those cracked toes and removing those temporary tattoos which could rather be embarrassing and prone to itching if kept untarnished for long.
Also, not withstanding is its contribution to heal the pain that gets caused due to accumulation of earwax. Yes, when used with warm water, it drools that extra amount of earwax out. Ever amazed with finish that wooden furniture’s have! That shining, silvery coating of course is the contribution of mineral oil.
After getting a glance of how mineral life is so useful in our day-to-day life activate, let’s now understand how mineral oil is extracted. Crude oil/Petroleum which is the source of mineral oil is a mixture of compounds ranging from gasoline (C1-C6) to kerosene and jet fuels (C11-C13) to diesel and petrol (C14-C25).
It has many other compounds that contain massive chains of 60 carbon atoms and more. To separate these compounds a refinery is set up. This constitutes of a huge vertical beam/column.
The molecules of kerosene and gasoline have fewer carbon atoms and are mostly obtained in gaseous state and those of mineral oil, petrol, diesel in liquid state. Large furnaces are installed to heat the crude oil.
The crude oil is first desalted and sent through a furnace where it is heated partially and vaporized, then sent to a fractionating column. This column operates at a higher atmospheric pressure by thus, separating molecules with respect to their boiling points that directly related to their molecular sizes.
The hydrocarbons entering the carbon get vaporized and as they travel upwards, keep condensing back into liquid form. By pulling the condensing liquid from different heights, the obtained products are different yet impure. This process of distillation is followed by a conversion process so, that the products don’t get oxidized.
The extraction process is carried out at various stages namely, deasphalting which is the removal of tar from deasphalted oil followed by solvent extraction in which branched and unbranched oils are separated from the aromatic compounds. The raffinate that is so, extracted contains phenol, Sulphur dioxide and furfural. Raffinate, a neutral oil can act as a fuel because of the linear chains of carbon.
Next, this raffinate is dewaxed that is, a paraffinic byproduct is obtained while on the other hand, is obtained the desired lubricating oil comprising of paraffins, naphthalene and residual aromatic compounds. Low temperature fluidity is enhanced as a result.
Finally, is carried out the process of hydro finishing which is a strict chemical reaction taking place due to the presence of hydrogen. Hydro finishing successfully converts the polar compounds present in the earlier step to covalent compounds. A remarkable change is colour is also observed. The liquid so, obtained is colorless and odorless in nature.
The conversion process which involves Hydro waxing, Hydrocracking and Hydro treating results in a mineral oil that is more viscous, more oxidation-resistant and has a high thermal stability. Mineral oil after the conversion process consists more of saturated carbons instead of unsaturated ones, so that they are more bio-degradable.