Whale Oil

Whale oil is oil obtained from the blubber of whales. Whale oil was sometimes known as train oil, which comes from the Dutch word traan ("tear" or "drop").

Sperm oil is obtained from the head cavities of sperm whales. It is chemically different from ordinary whale oil, being mostly liquid wax, and was more expensive.

The first principal use of whale oil was as an illuminant in lamps and to make candle wax. It was a major food of the aboriginal peoples of the Pacific northwest, such as the Nootka. Whale oil later came to be used in oiling wools for combing and other uses. It was the first of any animal or mineral oil to achieve commercial viability. It was used to make margarine and was the basis of very effective protective paint for steel, e.g. the original (but not current) Rust-Oleum. Whale oil also had many uses in battle as a weapon, it was used by various military forces all throughout the 1700s and even into the 1800s.

Whale oil was heavily used in the mid-1700s and early 1800s. Whale oil's predominant place in society was mostly eliminated with the development of kerosene from coal in 1846, and the advances in petroleum drilling in the late 19th century, which led to petroleum-based waxes and oils replacing whale oils in most nonfood applications. Sperm whale oil was however still a key component in automatic transmission fluid until 1972. With the 1986 International Whaling Commission (IWC) moratorium on commercial whaling, whale oil has ceased to be viable, as substitutes have been found for most of its uses, notably jojoba oil.

Read more about Whale Oil:  Chemistry, Applications, In Literature and Memoirs

Other articles related to "whale oil, oil, whale, whales":

Whale Oil - In Literature and Memoirs
... The pursuit and use of whale oil, along with many other aspects of whaling, are discussed in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick ... society is emphasized when the fictional narrator notes that whale oil is "as rare as the milk of queens." John R ... on the Pacific Northwest Coast in 1802–1805, describes how what he calls train oil was used as a condiment with every dish, even strawberries ...
Illuminant - Environmental Issues
... Kerosene and whale-oil lamps In 1849, Dr ... in existing lamps, and did not produce an offensive odor as did most whale oil ... It could be stored indefinitely, unlike whale oil, which would eventually spoil ...
New Bedford, Massachusetts - Economy - Economic History
... since it would be better for refining whale oil and manufacturing candles made from whales ... Syren, the longest lived of the clipper ships, spent over a decade transporting whale oil and whaling products to New Bedford, principally from Honolulu, and was owned for several years ... products that were used widely throughout the world (most importantly whale oil), New Bedford became one of the richest per capita cities in the world ...
Whaling In Australia - History
... or Torres Strait Islander people traditionally hunting whales, although it is said that Aboriginal people did hunt with killer whales, in stories recounted at ... The two ships returned to Port Jackson with one whale each, which they processed on the shore ... New Zealand before returning to England with seal skins, in addition to whale oil ...
Aaron Lopez - Business
... in spermaceti, a coveted wax extracted from whale oil that was used to make fine candles ... with enough spermaceti to meet the demand, and the price of whale oil was climbing ... to form a trust to control the price and distribution of whale oil ...

Famous quotes containing the words oil and/or whale:

    I became increasingly anarchistic. I began to find people of my own class vicious, people in clean collars uninteresting. I even accepted smells, personal as well as official. Everyone who came to the studio smelled either of machine oil or herring.
    Margaret Anderson (1886–1973)

    In clear weather the laziest may look across the Bay as far as Plymouth at a glance, or over the Atlantic as far as human vision reaches, merely raising his eyelids; or if he is too lazy to look after all, he can hardly help hearing the ceaseless dash and roar of the breakers. The restless ocean may at any moment cast up a whale or a wrecked vessel at your feet. All the reporters in the world, the most rapid stenographers, could not report the news it brings.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)