whale oil

oil rendered from whale blubber, formerly widely used as a fuel for lamps and for making soap and candles.
[1400-50; late ME]

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oil
also called  train oil 

      any oil derived from any species of whale, including sperm oil from sperm whales (sperm whale), train oil from baleen whales (baleen whale), and melon oil from small toothed whales (toothed whale).

      From the 16th century through the 19th century, whale oil was used principally as lamp fuel and for producing soap (soap and detergent). Long utilized for lubricating fine instruments, whale oil was treated with sulfur to provide high-pressure lubricants used in machinery, and it was also important in the manufacture of varnish, leather, linoleum, and rough cloth (especially Jute).

      In the first half of the 20th century, whale oil's applications broadened immensely. Premodern oil was inedible, but advances in chemistry allowed fresh oil to be hardened into a fat (fat and oil processing), which was used for margarine and soap until vegetable oil became a practical alternative in the late 1930s. Whale oil was extremely important in the manufacture of nitroglycerin for explosives in both world wars, and whale liver oil was a major source of vitamin D through the 1960s.

      Production of whale oil during the 20th century usually took place on large factory ships (factory ship), where minced whale blubber, bones, and flesh were cooked under steam pressure. Blubber yielded 50–80 percent oil by weight, bones 10–70 percent, and meat 2–8 percent. Fatty acids (fatty acid) for soaps and fatty alcohols (alcohol) for cosmetics and detergents (detergent) were derived by immersing whale oil fats in alkalis (alkali). Textile sizings (sizing) were made from hardened oil.

      See also sperm oil and spermaceti.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Whale oil — is the oil obtained from the blubber of various species of whales, particularly the three species of Right Whale ( Eubalaena japonica , E. glacialis , and E. australis ) and the Bowhead Whale ( Balaena mysicetus ) prior to the modern era, as well …   Wikipedia

  • whale oil — noun a white to brown oil obtained from whale blubber; formerly used as an illuminant • Syn: ↑train oil • Hypernyms: ↑animal oil * * * noun : a water white to brown oil obtained from the blubber of whales and used in tempering steel, in dressing… …   Useful english dictionary

  • whale oil — oil obtained from the bodies of hunted whales …   English contemporary dictionary

  • whale oil — noun oil obtained from the blubber of a whale, formerly used in oil lamps or for making soap …   English new terms dictionary

  • whale oil — noun Any of various oils and fats extracted from the blubber of whales and used in the manufacture of soap and lubricants (formerly as an illuminating oil) …   Wiktionary

  • whale-oil — n. Train oil …   New dictionary of synonyms

  • whale-oil — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Oil additive — Oil additives are chemical compounds that improve the lubricant performance of base oil (or oil base stock ). By utilizing the same base stock, many different oils can be manufactured, each with its distinctive properties. Additives comprise up… …   Wikipedia

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  • Oil bag — Oil Oil (oil), n. [OE. oile, OF. oile, F. huile, fr. L. oleum; akin to Gr. ?. Cf. {Olive}.] Any one of a great variety of unctuous combustible substances, more viscous than and not miscible with water; as, olive oil, whale oil, rock oil, etc.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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