Vaselinethat translucent jelly, had countless uses in the past.
For example, fishermen smeared Vaseline on their hooks to attract trout. Theater actresses applied it to their cheeks to simulate tears. The natives of the Amazon they cooked with her, they ate it spread on bread and even used vaseline jars as currency. Because it resists freezing, the Arctic explorer robertpeary He took it with him to the North Pole to protect his skin from abrasions, and to preserve his mechanical equipment against rust.
Vaseline was invented by Robert Augustus Chesebrougha chemist from Brooklyn who lived a very long life (96 years) which he attributed to his taking a tablespoon of Vaseline every day.
In 1859, Chesebrough was looking not for a new ointment but for a way out of bankruptcy. At a time when kerosene was an important source of domestic and industrial energy, his business based precisely on this fuel was threatened by much cheaper oil, Sourced from the Great Pennsylvania Finds.
Chesebrough came here to cash in on the oil, but his curiosity got caught up in a pasty residue, similar to paraffin, which adhered to the drills and even paralyzed them. No one knew about the chemical nature of this substance but everyone dedicated all kinds of insults to them. Although workers discovered that applied to a wound or burn, the paste accelerated his healing.
So Chesebrough returned to Brooklyn without a dollar but several jars of this mysterious petroleum byproduct. He spent several months experimenting, during which he attempted to extract and purify the essential ingredient in the paste.
This ingredient turned out to be a transparent and soft substance, which he called “petroleum jelly”. To test it, he cut, scratched, and wounded himself, discovering that its substance was curative, quickly and without infection.
In 1870, Chesebrough began manufacturing, for the first time in the world, its Vaseline Petroleum Jelly. Being a mixture, it presented an undefined melting point, observing a softening in the vicinity of 36 °C and completing the transition to the liquid state above 60 °C. The boiling point was above 350 °C.
The term came from the German Wasser (=water) + Greek elaion (=oil). Although there is also another etymological version, neither denied by Chesebourgh: the chemist’s friends claimed that when trying to purify the substance he used flower jars (vases) from his wife as laboratory containers. To the word vase he added a popular medical suffix of the time: line.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Vaseline was already in all family medicine cabinets. Chesebrough had transformed a sticky, annoying waste product, the victim of the most salacious insults of oil workers, into a multi-billion dollar industry.