While we all know that the exploration and production of oil and gas creates jobs, provides potential income for investors and companies involved in that production, oil and gas provides some other, lessor known things.
The amount of products that are made possible by the oil industry is truly remarkable. We have listed just a few of the ones that you might not know are associated with oil and gas.
Aspirin has proven itself one of the safest and most reliable medications over the past decades. People swallow billions of tablets per year for headaches, fever and as a preventative against heart conditions or stroke. The acetylsalicylic acid in aspirin (crystals of the compound shown here) shares the pain-relief properties of the chemical salicin in willow bark. Yet most aspirin manufacturing begins with benzene, a hydrocarbon that is typically derived from petroleum products.
2. Panty Hose
Call them leggings, hosiery, tights or whatever you like. Millions of modern women wear nylon pantyhose for both comfort and fashion, just as women decades ago latched on to the nylon stockings that became popular during World War II. They may not pause to consider that nylon represents a petroleum-derived thermoplastic invented in 1935 by Wallace Carothers, a chemist working at the DuPont company. Today, nylons help make products ranging from dish scrubbers to parachutes.
Oil has helped make many fond childhood memories of drawing inside a classroom or a home. Each and every crayon in a child's Crayola box consists of paraffin wax, a waxy solid made from petroleum. Paraffin wax also happens to help make candles, and may even provide the polish on an apple or the glossiness of chocolate.
People who enjoy the snap and long-lasting texture of their chewing gum can give a nod of thanks to petroleum-derived polymers. Today's gum bases can consist of both natural latexes and petroleum products such as polyethylene and paraffin wax, which also means most gums are non-biodegradable. But the first chewing gums typically relied upon the natural latex known as chicle — still the gum base of choice for some upscale gum brands and certain regional markets.
(On a side note, gum-chewing may be more than a pastime, as research detailed in the October/November 2011 issue of the journal Appetite suggests chewing gum before a test may improve performance.)
5. Wrinkle-Resistant Clothes
Cotton may represent the fabric of our lives, but polyester pants, shirts and other clothing items bring the benefits of wrinkle resistance, durability and shrugging off stains. Those special properties come courtesy of polyester's origin at the oil refinery, where several petroleum products are created to eventually form the synthetic material that helps clothe millions of people. But that's not all bad, because polyester recycling can produce new, high-quality polyester fiber.
6. Solar Panels
Solar panels may help homeowners and businesses usher in renewable energy by harnessing the power of sunlight, but most panels still rely upon petroleum-based resins and plastic components in their photovoltaic cells. That could eventually change as companies have begun rolling out new bio-resins and bioplastics that could replace the petroleum-based components.
Humans have applied natural cosmetics on their lips, eyes and faces for centuries, but most of today's lipsticks and eye liners derive their visually-pleasing magic from petroleum products or byproducts such as crylates, coal tar colorants, and propylene glycol. Given that foundation, it's little surprise that many women also turn to the petroleum product known as Vaseline (petroleum jelly) as a simple eyeliner remover or base for lipstick.
8. Golf Balls
If you’ve ever experienced being hit by a golf ball before, you would have a hard time believing that something so solid could have such an elastic rubber core. But that’s exactly what you would find if you were to cut one open. Many of the petrochemicals extracted during the oil refinement process end up in your local golf course fairways in the form of the polybutadiene that that makes up a golf ball’s core. The rubber interior provides the impact absorption and bounce that makes your strokes end up in water hazards rather than fairways more often than not! But rest assured, companies are no starting to produce golf balls that biodegrade within a few years so you won't have to worry about your mediocre round of golf negatively affecting the environment.
9. PVC Pipe
If the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, chances are your neighbor is taking advantage of this petroleum made product: PVC pipes. The pipes that make up most underground sprinkler systems are named after POLY VINYL CHLORIDE, a product made 100% from petroleum. Interesting that a percentage of the petroleum extracted from the earth and processed above ground ends up back below the surface.
Oil is most easily associated with the gas that fuels the vehicles you drive to work every day. But did you know that petroleum was used to make the road you drive on as well? As early as the 13th century, Native Americans would collect the oily bitumen that would seep to the surface directly above underground petroleum deposits. While they used this to create adhesives, it is now the asphalt concrete that makes up our roads since at least 1870. Asphalt has also been used for flooring and waterproofing swimming pools during the 1800’s.
The glasses that we use to correct our vision are rarely made out of real glass. Chances are, the lenses many of us read with are made with polycarbonate lenses. These require petroleum to be produced as do the contact lenses that typically replace them.
12. Furniture Padding
You might want to sit down for this one. Ok, perhaps nothing will surprise you at this point in the list, but did you know that the cushion in the furniture you are likely sitting on is padded by long lasting and durable fibers derived from petroleum? Many of the materials that the paddings are bound by are also made from refined petroleum.
While classic authors such as Hemingway and Mark Twain wrote their classic manuscripts using ink derived from vegetable oil, nowadays you will hardly fine similar types of ink. Oil from petroleum based solvents are more effective in holding and carrying the color pigments found in ink. These solvents also serve as a resin that enhances the gloss once the ink is on paper.