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A soft, water white, gelled solid. Petrolatum is a low molecular weight hydrocarbon wax that contains both mineral jelly and small amounts of mineral oil. It is chemically inert, like paraffin. Petrolatum is used as an ointment, lubricant, water-repellent, release agent and temporary adhesive. It is not recommended for contact with any art object.

Synonyms and Related Terms

petroleum jelly (AAT preferred); mineral jelly; petrolato (Esp.);

Examples include: Vaseline®

Physical and Chemical Properties

Melting Point 41-63 C
Density 0.815-0.865 g/ml

Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 594
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • John S. Mills, Raymond White, The Organic Chemistry of Museum Objects, Butterworth Heineman, London, 2nd ed., 1994
  • A History of Technology, Charles Singer, E.J. Holmyard, A.R. Hall (eds.), Clarendon Press, Oxford, Volume 1: From Early times to Fall of Ancient Empires, 1954
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998

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