Petroleum jelly has been a staple in medicine cabinets and first aid kits for more than a century, and it’s arguably the medicinal-equivalent of duct tape in terms of its versatility. However, petroleum jelly isn’t inherently-safe, and using too-much of it for too-long can actually be detrimental to our health. Let’s take a closer look at why it’s important to use it judiciously.
As the name suggests, petroleum jelly comes from fossil fuels. Consequently, it contains the same compounds that are found in a wide-range of oils, lubricants and fuels. While the finished product that we see on store shelves is processed and refined, it can still contain compounds that are known to be carcinogenic. Even if minerals, medicines and other healthy compounds are added to the finished product, we are still slathering ourselves with oil at the end of the day.
There are few, if any, real regulations in the United States that govern how petroleum jelly is refined and processed. Consequently, manufacturers are expected to police themselves in order to ensure that their products are as safe as possible. While top-brands have a long track record for maintaining product quality and safety, the same can’t be said for the dozens of producers that have entered the market over the past couple of decades.
Inspections are also a rarity since there are few regulations in place to protect consumers. Since the majority of knock-off brands are imported from countries that are known for flooding the market with sub-standard and even counterfeit products, there is a real danger that a lot of the petroleum jelly on store shelves may be harmful to our health.
Petroleum jelly is widely-used as a remedy for a range of skin conditions as well as to treat minor wounds, rashes, scrapes and burns. It’s also a key component in a number of popular lip balm products. However, excessive use can actually be counterproductive. For example, we all know that petroleum jelly is a great moisturizer. However, few know that the substance actually interferes with how the skin naturally moisturizes itself. It prevents air and water from adhering to the skin, and it also blocks moisture from escaping pores.
Over time, this can lead to chronic dryness, irritation as well as a wide-range of skin conditions. Additionally, inhaling petroleum jelly can lead to a rare but potent form of pneumonia. It can also introduce petroleum-based toxins into the body if it is applied to cracked skin or open sores.
Keep in mind that even medicated products, or those that are infused with herbs, essential oils or other goodies still have petroleum as a base ingredient. Consequently, a lot of what we see on labels may not produce the safe benefits that we expect to receive.
We’re not saying that people should avoid using petroleum jelly. These drawbacks don’t usually outweigh the benefits that most of us receive, and there are dozens of ways that we can put this substance to use now as well as during a survival situation. However, it’s also important to remember that petroleum jelly is not a medicine, tonic or healing agent. It is a balm that can provide temporary protection or relief until better alternatives can be applied.
Don’t think twice about packing away some petroleum jelly in your survival kit, because chances are that you’ll get a lot of good use from it in the field. However, it shouldn’t be viewed as a replacement for healthier alternatives either. Take some time to look at how petroleum jelly can help as well as harm us, and chances are that you’ll be surprised with what you discover.