A liquid distillate of petroleum comprised of alkanes (saturated hydrocarbons) that have a chain length of between 14
The name mineral oil by itself is imprecise, having been used for many specific oils over the past few centuries. Other names, similarly imprecise, include white oil, liquid paraffin, pariffinum liquidum (Latin), and liquid petroleum. Baby oil is a perfumed mineral oil.
Most often, mineral oil is a liquid by-product of refining crude oil to make gasoline and other petroleum products. This type of mineral oil is a transparent, colorless oil composed mainly of alkanes and cycloalkanes, related to petroleum jelly. It has a density of around 0.8 g/cm3.
Mineral oil is a substance of relatively low value, and it is produced in very large quantities. Mineral oil is available in light and heavy grades, and can often be found in drug stores.
Three basic classes of mineral oils exist:
- Alkanes, based on n-alkanes
- Naphthenic oils, based on cycloalkanes
- Aromatic oils, based on aromatic hydrocarbons (distinct from essential oils)