Mineral oil is a clear transparent oil that has many uses. It is inexpensive and available in most drugstores. It is commonly used in manufacturing as well as in the home; it is also a common ingredient in some cosmetics. Other names for mineral oil include liquid paraffin and liquid petrolatum.
Mineral oil is a colourless oil similar in structure to petroleum jelly. Today the term "mineral oil" is used to refer to all hydrocarbon and gaseous products produced from petroleum-bearing wells.
Mineral oil can be used to relieve constipation. It is a lubricant laxative that works by slowing the absorption of water from stool in the bowels. This softens the stool. Mineral oil is taken orally to aid bowel movement.
Seasoning Cutting Boards
Another common use of mineral oil is to season wooden cutting boards. Seasoning is the process of sealing wood to prevent staining and bacterial growth. Since mineral oil is relatively inexpensive and does not turn rancid, it is a popular choice for seasoning cutting boards. To use, wipe the mineral oil on the board with a dry cloth. Wipe off any excess oil. Do not worry about applying too much oil.
Mineral oil can be used as an anti-caking and glazing agent in manufacturing. It is used as surface treatment for candy, chewing gum, dried fruit, frozen meat and cocoa products. It is also used for dust control in the treatment of rice, and as a release agent for baking pans.
There have been studies on the toxicity of food-grade mineral oil. According to Citgo's Material Safety Data Sheet on the substance, lifetime mouse skin studies do not show any mutagenic or carcinogenic effects. Long-term studies of up to two years do not show any cancerous effects in any animal species tested.