What are the advantages/disadvantages of using synthetic oil?

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The word "synthetic" often leaves a bad taste in people's mouths, especially when so many products are marketed as "natural." Some synthetic products exist in everyday items used on our bodies, in our food, and in our automobiles.

Different types of synthetic oil exist and are used for specific products in various industries.


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Synthetic oil use in perfumes occurs when fragrance oil is used to scent a perfume instead of 100 per cent essential oil extracted from a flower, fruit, or plant. Fragrance oil is a mixture of synthetic or artificial chemicals (esters) that mimic a scent, according to Teachsoap.com. Dickenson College states a group of chemicals called esters is often used to mimic the scents of flowers and fruits in perfumes.

In the past, many consumers reported having allergic reactions to essential oils in perfumes. The benefit of synthetic fragrance oil is the ability to mimic the aroma of an essential oil without the allergic reaction. However, synthetic fragrance oil can come with its own side effects such as headaches and dizziness, if a person is allergic to the chemical components the of the oil.

Automotive Parts

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Synthetic oil is used in the automotive industry to lubricate mechanical components such as engine parts and transmissions, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The main advantage the EPA lists for the use of synthetic oil is that it is a low-viscosity (thin, or less thick) lubricant. Synthetic oil lubricants can slip between mechanical parts with greater ease, minimising friction when mechanical parts rub or grind against each other during operation.

The EPA also states synthetic lubricants such as synthetic motor oil can eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by five metric tons a year. The main disadvantage of synthetic oil lubricants is its higher cost compared to conventional mineral oil lubricants. Synthetic lubricants cost 50 per cent more than conventional lubricants.

Hair Care

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Synthetic oil such as silicone oil is found in hair care products. Silicone oil is a broad name used for the different types of silicone in existence, such as dimethicone and dimethanol. Silicone oil is a main ingredient in many smoothing and anti-frizz hair care products. The advantage of silicone oil is its ability to coat the hair shaft and smooth the hair cuticle to tame or eliminate hair frizz. For some, this can be a disadvantage, because silicone oil, like many oils, attracts dust and dirt to the hair, causing build-up over time. This also creates the need to use a clarifying shampoo to remove the silicone oil completely from the hair. Silicone oil used on fine or thin hair can weigh it down, causing it to look limp.