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Whale Oil
Whale Oil Versus the Others
Whale Oil Uses
The Size of the Sperm Whale
Sperm Whale Head Anatomy
Sperm Whale Oil
Whale Oil Barrel
Historic Prices
Whalemen in the Oilfields
Whaling Control
Cia. Ballenera del Norte S.A.

Whale Oil Uses

A few of the uses of sperm whale oil over the years were as follows:


illuminant (lamps) including railroad signal lamps until replaced by Galena Signal Oil from a Franklin, Pa., refinery


candles (first made from sperm head oil in 1750+ in Newport by Jacob Rodriguez Rivera)


watch oil (at $5.00 per ounce in 1957!)


additives in motor oils


automatic transmission fluid


lubricant for delicate high altitude instruments




cosmetics ("imparts a rich glossy sheen")


rust-proofing compounds


chemical fibers






glaze (on photographs)


70+ pharmaceutical compounds















1957 article in the Peruvian Times summed up a lot of uses for whale oil.  One was: "It has a high film strength and loosens a rusted nut on a bolt in seconds".  The oil doesn't dry out or turn rancid.  Sperm oil lubricates textile fibers to prevent unraveling when they are twisted into threads.  There were hundreds more of seemingly small but important uses.

Profile of an adult male sperm whale.  A sperm whale having a length of 45 feet is near to the upper limit for the species.  The head makes up almost one-third of the length, disregarding the tail.

© 2004, Samuel T. Pees
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