Products made from oil

edited July 2018 in Entertainment

We all know that fossil fuels are out of fashion with millennials and lots of well-meaning people who don't all realise how important they've been in our history. The discovery of oil has to be up there with the discovery of fire, flight and sliced bread. This page will be an ever-growing tribute to oil, as we list more and more productive uses.

For the record, I'll get my personal green Vs fossil opinion out of the way, so that hopefully this thread doesn't go off in the wrong direction.

My view on green energy

If I could instantly switch out all polluting energy sources for non-polluting ones, I would do so. This is especially if the numbers added up, that demand was met at a similar price to the fossil alternatives. That's not realistic for the foreseeable future, but I salute anyone who is working on this valuable problem. In the meantime, any possibility of reducing pollution, or improving fossil fuel technology should be taken.

I find certain things completely insane, such as:

  1. Trying to revitalise the coal industry when LPG is such a better alternative.
  2. Filling our oceans with hundreds of tons of single-use plastic, when we have better alternatives.
  3. Outright bans, tariffs, subsidies and other government meddling that artificially creates winners and losers. Especially when the decisions are made by leaders who don't seem to understand the topic.

Now, I've got the soapbox stuff out of the way, let's dig into the list of products and uses for oil. (Note, some articles on the topic talk about products made from petroleum which is incorrect, or at least would make a small list. Petroleum is already a refined by-product from oil. Petroleum and oil are not the same things!)

Made from oil - Do you see the spill? or the shoes?

List of products made from oil:


We'll get this one out of the way first, as it's the main use for oil. A barrel of oil contains 42 gallons, at the refinery, 19.4 gallons of petroleum is produced. This leaves well over half a barrel. The remaining sludge is used to make hundreds or even thousands of products. Even if electric vehicles completely replaced internal combustion engines, we'd still use oil for many, or most of the products that we find all around us.


I've lumped these two together when we might think that diesel should be with petroleum. Many people think that petrol is a more refined version of diesel. Whilst this is true, it's not the whole story. Crude oil contains literally hundreds of different hydrocarbons.

According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association:

  • Petrol is made of a mix of alkanes and cycloalkanes with a chain length of between 5-12 carbon atoms. These boil between 40°C and 205°C.
  • Gas oil or Diesel is made alkanes containing 12 or more carbon atoms. These have a boiling point between 250°C and 350°C.

So petrol isn't just a more refined version of diesel!


We're probably a fair way away from electric passenger and freight airlines due to the weight of batteries. Mineral oil is likely to be used for jet fuel for the foreseeable future. Kerosene has other uses such as for heating oil, and some other interesting ones that you'll see further down the page!


This is probably another obvious one but should be on the list. Interestingly, even fully synthetic motor oil is made from crude oil where the extracts are chemically modified.


Asprin is one of the longest standing, well tolerated and helpful pharmaceutical drugs with lots of uses. Asprin (acetylsalicylic acid) contains benzene which is a hydrocarbon found in coal tar, which comes from oil.


Children's crayons are made from paraffin wax, which is one of the many byproducts from oil. I still remember the 'Carthy twins' at my junior school who used to eat crayons, apparently without any ill effects. The only side effect seemed to be rainbow coloured teeth!


Isn't really jelly-like at all, for generations we've used petroleum jelly to soothe scratches, burns and cuts, keeping the wound clean and moist. The most famous brand of petroleum jelly is, of course, Vaseline!


Includes moisturisers, hand cream and lip balm. As with vaseline, the nature of the petroleum-based ingredients helps the skin to remain soft and supple.


Nylon and polyester are two oil-based fibres that are used for a huge number of clothing and upholstering materials. We might mention some unusual ones later in the list, but its fair to say that synthetic fibres have either replaced or compete with cotton, wool and silk in most of their uses. If you went skydiving, would you prefer a silk parachute? Or a Nylon one?


This is a list of cosmetics and personal care that is not complete, but you get the idea... Unless you're specifically choosing personal care products that state that they are 100% plant-based, it's likely that they contain multiple ingredients from oil.

Which are your favourite products that are made from oil? I'll come back to this post from time to time and add a few more items, but it would be great if the community could get involved and show some support for oil!

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