Whale oil is oil that has been recovered from a whale’s blubber by the process of boiling strips or slabs of blubber from the whale and then removing the oil that has been released from the blubber during the boiling process. Between the 17th and the 20th centuries, whale oil had a great deal of popularity.
It found use in a wide range of man-made chemicals, materials, and instruments, including lamp oil, margarine, and transmission oil. Because of the need for whale oil, many species have been hunted to the brink of extinction, and as a result, they are now classified as endangered. During the height of the whaling industry, the blue whale, the right whale, and the bowhead whale were among the most sought-after animals to kill.
These whales were sought after in large part due to the fact that they were relatively sluggish and had big bodies. These baleen whales were also targeted in large part due to the fact that the oil extracted from them had far more desirable qualities than the oil extracted from toothed whales.
Because it is primarily made up of triglycerides, oil extracted from baleen whales is significantly more valuable than oil extracted from toothed whales, which is primarily made up of wax-like properties. This is due to the fact that triglycerides are significantly more useful in a variety of chemicals and applications.
In addition to the oil that can be found in some of the bigger species of baleen whales, whalers also hunted the toothed whale known as the sperm whale, which carried spermaceti oil that can be found in its skull. This oil may be discovered in certain locations.
Because the waxy substance appeared to strongly resemble the appearance of sperm, it was initially believed that spermaceti oil was actually composed of sperm (hence the name). However, subsequent studies disproved this fact, and the current belief held today is that spermaceti oil appears to play a significant role in providing the sperm whale with buoyancy so that it can dive and rise in the water more easily.
Even though the sperm whale was killed for its oil for many years, the population of this species is still considered to be relatively numerous in comparison to its cousins, the blue whale, the right whale, and the bowhead whale. For a number of centuries, whale oil continued to be used as a popular chemical in the production of margarine as well as cleaning chemicals, transmission fluids, and burning oils.
- It wasn’t until the 19th and 20th centuries that breakthroughs in technology and improved alternatives to whale oil began to eat away at the need for the product.
- The development and manufacturing of kerosene, vegetable oil, and hydrogenation all led to advancements that, in the end, made whale oil a substance with lower levels of desirability.
In point of fact, many companies were pleased to learn about these new advances because burning whale oil had a foul odor and had a propensity to bleach a variety of goods, including clothes. Even taking into account the price of competing supplies, it became clear that continuing to utilize whale oil was not the best option.
In addition to these improvements, organizations such as the International Whaling Commission started taking action to restrict and monitor the killing of whales, particularly whales that were in danger of extinction, and in 1986, they made it illegal to engage in the practice of whaling in a number of countries, one of which was the United States.
There are still a few countries that kill whales solely for their meat, which is regarded as a delicacy by certain people. However, whaling is mostly prohibited in most countries today, and those countries include the majority of the world’s nations. The practice of hunting whales has thankfully come to an end for the most part thanks to advancements in technology and the assistance of organizations such as the International Whaling Commission.
- 0.1 What is whale oil used for?
- 0.2 Is whale oil illegal?
- 1 Is whale oil toxic?
- 2 What was whale bone used for in the 1800s?
- 3 What is made out of whale sperm?
- 4 What does whale oil smell like?
What is whale oil used for?
Long used for the purpose of lubricating fine instruments, whale oil was eventually processed with sulfur to produce high-pressure lubricants that were put to use in machinery. Additionally, whale oil played a significant role in the production of varnish, leather, linoleum, and rough linen (especially jute).
What is whale bone made of?
Whalebone, which is also known as baleen, is a set of stiff keratinous plates found in the mouths of baleen whales. These plates are used to strain copepods and other types of zooplankton, fish, and krill from saltwater.
Is whale oil still used today?
Applications: shipments of sperm oil and whale oil into the United States in the 19th century The most common applications for whale oil were those involving lighting and lubricating machinery. There were cheaper alternatives to whale oil, but they were inferior in both their performance and their ability to burn cleanly.
- As a direct consequence of this, whale oil became the predominant form used around the world.
- This, in turn, provided more fuel for the Industrial Revolution, which was taking place simultaneously in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and continental Europe.
- At the close of the 18th century, there was a surge in demand for whale oil, which led to the expansion of the whaling business, which reached its pinnacle around the year 1820.
In the 1860s, after the discovery of mineral oils and the expansion of chemical refineries to produce kerosene and lubricants, there was a rapid change in the market as a result of the declining whale population, which caused higher voyage costs. Taxation was another factor that contributed to this change.
By 1870, kerosene had taken over as the most common kind of fuel for lighting, and the whaling business was on the wane. Beginning in the latter half of the 19th century, an increase in the availability of superior substitutes, followed by the enactment of environmental legislation, led to a gradual reduction in the consumption of whale oil.
The International Whaling Commission put a stop to commercial whaling when it announced a ban on the practice in 1986; as a result, whale oil is almost completely obsolete in modern society. It is still legal for indigenous people to hunt whales for food as part of their subsistence system.
- The Inuit people of North America are given unique whaling privileges since the practice is an essential part of their culture.
- Even today, Inuit people consume whale oil as a meal and utilize it as lamp oil during the ceremonial practice known as qulliq.
- Even though it produced a pungent smoke when it was burned and was not particularly well liked, whale oil was once utilized as an inexpensive source of illumination.
In the latter half of the 19th century, it was supplanted by kerosene, which was less expensive, more effective, and had a longer shelf life. Before kerosene was discovered, the most common alternative to whale oil was a burning fluid known as camphine.
- Kerosene was discovered much later.
- The Endangered Species Act of 1973 placed a restriction on the use of whale oil in automobiles in the United States, where it had been a common component of automatic transmission fluid prior to the law’s passage.
- It was also a significant component of hydraulic fluid in tractors (such the ubiquitous JDM Type 303 Special Hydraulic Fluid) until its removal in 1974.
The year 1974 marked the end of its use. Lubricants of the highest grade were traditionally made out of whale oil in the United Kingdom’s toolmaking machines. In the early part of the 20th century, shortly after the discovery of hydrogenation, whale oil was one of the ingredients in margarine; however, this method of production is no longer employed.
- The whale oil that was formerly used in margarine has been switched out for vegetable oil.
- Soap was traditionally made from oil derived from whales.
- Because of its unpleasant odor and propensity to turn colors, it was deemed inappropriate for use in the production of cosmetic soap before the discovery of the hydrogenation process.
During the First World War, trench foot was a common problem, and whale oil was commonly utilized as a preventative measure. During World War I on the Western Front, an infantry battalion of the British Army could be anticipated to use 10 imp gal (45 l; 12 US gal) of whale oil per day.
Is whale oil illegal?
Technology and instruments There have been documented instances of whale oil being utilized in the production of soap, explosives, and even margarine. Has it also been an essential component in our endeavors to explore space? Written by Jacob Roberts and published on January 11, 2014 In 1990, not long after the Hubble Space Telescope was sent into orbit, it sent back to Earth the very first photographs that it had captured.
- Astronomers anticipated getting photos of galaxies that were devoid of influence from Earth’s atmosphere and stunningly sharp, but instead they obtained images that were fuzzy and warped.
- The primary mirror of Hubble, which was used to focus the lens, has a defect.
- It has been 20 years since the first servicing mission to fix the distorted mirror on Hubble, and this year celebrates the anniversary of that mission.
Despite the fact that astronauts were fast to fix for the failures of the mirror, the error was met with scorn and sparked a political issue over whether or not it was wise to spend millions of dollars on a defective technology. In 2010, the Hubble Space Telescope was in the center of controversy once more, but this time it was of a totally different nature.
- On April 25, 2010, the first episode of the History Channel’s newest miniseries, America: The Story of Us, was shown.
- This episode was seen by almost 5.7 million people when it initially aired.
- The history of the United States, from its revolutionary beginnings up through the events of September 11, 2001, was covered in detail throughout the miniseries.
However, one specific phrase in particular piqued the interest of the audience. The following is what the narrator states in episode 4: “Even in modern times, NASA still makes use of whale oil. It is the fuel that drives the Hubble Space Telescope.” As soon as the program was over, people flocked to various discussion boards on the internet in an attempt to get some answers.
Since 1972, the consumption of whale oil is illegal in the United States. Why would NASA continue to make use of such an outdated and socially unacceptable substance? Wild speculation circulated around whether or not NASA had been covertly stockpiling whale oil for its spacecraft. The middle of the 1800s was the height of whale hunting in North America.
Lamps were fueled by whale oil, which was purified from fat and used to make soap and candles. It was also used to make other products. In a single successful journey, the crew of a whaling ship may earn the equivalent of one-half of their annual salary.
- However, the 1860s saw the beginning of the commercial boom of petroleum, a new type of oil.
- In the next decades, there was a precipitous drop in the demand for whale oil.
- Well though the majority of whales were slaughtered for their bones, whale oil was nevertheless put to use throughout the 20th century in North America.
Whaling occurred even into this century. Because it does not lose its density even when subjected to extremely high pressures and does not freeze, it is an exceptionally useful lubricant in equipment, particularly in the gearboxes of automobiles. In the 1920s, whale oil was progressively reintroduced into consumer goods such as margarine and soap, and during World War II, it played a pivotal role as an element in the production of nitroglycerin.
- As a result, demand for the commodity rapidly increased.
- However, after more than a century and a half of extensive killing, several whale species were on the verge of extinction.
- The Marine Mammal Protection Act was enacted in 1972 as a result of lobbying efforts by environmental organizations in the United States Congress to save whale populations.
The whaling business in North America vanished almost as quickly as it had emerged. Many of the businesses that manufactured lubricants by using whale oil as a raw material are now in danger of going extinct. One of these businesses, Nye Lubricants, responded to the changing market by developing novel kinds of synthetic lubricants.
- These synthetic chemicals eventually took the place of the decreasing supply of lubricants derived from whale oil, and they were frequently more dependable than their organic forebears.
- These synthetic lubricants were embraced by manufacturers of mechanical timepieces and automobile engines.
- Even NASA made use of them to lubricate sensitive equipment before sending it into orbit.
However, there are many who continue to hold the belief that whale oil can be found somewhere deep within the workings of America’s space machines. In his book published in 2003 titled Spy Satellites, Paul Kupperberg discussed how the United States established the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) during the time of the Cold War in order to create satellites that would spy on the Soviet Union.
- A name given to one of these satellite programs was Corona.
- Kupperberg asserts that in 1961, whale oil was used to lubricate the fragile camera shutters of a Corona spacecraft, which had difficulty functioning properly in zero gravity.
- This story is relatively credible, despite the fact that there is no evidence to support it that has been cited: in the 1960s, it was not yet forbidden to manufacture whale oil, and the Corona program had nothing to do with NASA (which has denied ever using whale oil in its programs.) In his book titled “The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea,” which was published in 2010, Philip Hoare stated that “the Hubble space telescope is spinning about the planet on spermaceti,” which allows it to view six billion years into the past.
Hoare cited two different sources for his information: the website h2g2, which was a user-generated site developed by the science-fiction novelist Douglas Adams, and Hoare’s own brother, who had worked in the aerospace sector. During the interview, Hoare’s brother recalled having off-the-cuff discussions with other NASA employees concerning the agency’s usage of whale oil, but he was unable to provide a reliable source.
- It’s possible that these baseless reports are the product of a logical jump on someone’s part.
- During the 1990s, Nye Lubricants worked with NASA and the United States military to carry out various studies with synthetic lubricants.
- It’s possible that some people got the idea that NASA bought whale oil from Nye because of the relationship between the two companies; historically, Nye was in the business of refining whale oil, and NASA is the most well-known space organization in the world.
No matter where the accusation originated, bloggers and environmentalists, many of whom cited Hoare’s work, accused NASA of promoting the illegal hunting of whales. A comprehensive internal investigation was carried out by NASA’s historians in the late 1990s as a result of widespread rumors that the organization’s devices had been powered by whale oil.
The investigation was extensive. When this question was first asked, most people’s thoughts immediately went to the possibility of using whale oil in space shuttles rather than the Hubble telescope. According to Bill Barry, who is the chief historian at NASA, researchers tracked the allegations about whale oil all the way down to Nye Lubricants.
“After a chat with the chief of engineering at Nye Lubricants, our Shuttle engineers came away confident that whale-based lubricants had been “out of style for a good many years” and that they had never been utilized on the Shuttle.” Conclusion reached.
- Since that time, NASA has carried out additional examinations into its other operations, and those investigations have turned up no proof of the usage of whale oil.
- Following the airing of the program on History Channel, NASA took to Twitter in order to debunk the recycling allegation.
- They did so by quoting Hubble’s astrophysics systems manager, who stated that “no whale oil was utilized in Hubble.” However, such proclamations don’t appear to be able to put an end to the narrative.
The question then is why this belief persists. It’s possible that it’s one of those things that people unconsciously hope to be true, like an anachronism from a romanticized time period that become an integral aspect of contemporary technology. It’s possible that this myth, like most others, has a grain of truth to it, but no matter how many times it’s been discredited, someone will always find a way to bring it back to life.
Is whale oil toxic?
It was like discovering a bottle of great wine hidden away in an ancient barrel. But in this case, it was a scientific discovery. Marine chemists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution conducted an analysis of whale oil taken from the final voyage of the whaling ship Charles W.
Morgan in 1921. They discovered that the oil contained chemical compounds with properties that were comparable to those of the toxic PCBs and the pesticide DDT. The shocker is as follows: It wasn’t until the late 1930s that large-scale manufacture of DDT and PCBs got under way. According to Emma Teuten and Chris Reddy, the research proves that so-called halogenated organic compounds can also be produced naturally and that these compounds “were bioaccumulating in marine mammals—just as PCBs do now—before Monsanto, Dupont, and 3M were making halogenated organic compounds for industrial use.” The research was carried out to demonstrate that so-called halogenated organic compounds can also be produced naturally.
Their findings were presented in a paper that was published in the journal Environmental Pollution in February of 2007. In the past ten years, routine analyses of animal and food samples have begun to uncover halogenated organic compounds that could not be easily traced to known industrial or natural sources.
- These compounds have been found in marine mammals, human breast milk, and fish that are available for purchase in the marketplace, among other things.
- The discoveries of Teuten and Reddy pose some fascinating issues.
- “We do not know who generates many of these natural chemicals, or why, or how harmful they are,” said Teuten, who is now a professor at the University of Plymouth in England.
“Reddy’s findings also raise some intriguing concerns.” “We think that many of the chemicals were created by bacteria, plants, and animals” — as chemical defense systems against predators. “We suspect that many of the compounds were and are made by bacteria, plants, and animals.” The samples of whale oil had been stored in the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which is also the location where the Charles W.
Morgan was constructed in 1841. It was one of the last whaling ships in operation throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries and embarked on journeys all over the world during that time period. The ship was previously owned by the father of former WHOI Trustee Gratia “Topsy” Montgomery, who was one of WHOI’s most significant patrons.
The ship is currently preserved and on public display at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. The National Science Foundation, the WHOI Ocean Life Institute, and The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation all contributed funding to the study.
What was whale bone used for in the 1800s?
Baleen, also known as “Whalebone,” refers to the bones and teeth of numerous whale species that were utilized in the production of a variety of goods, many of which were typical household utensils in the 19th century. It is stated that whales were responsible for the production of “the plastic of the 1800s.” The “bone” of the whale that was used the most frequently was not technically a bone; rather, it was baleen, which is a tough substance that is arranged in big plates in the mouths of some kinds of whales, much like enormous combs.
The whale’s baleen serves the job of a filter, allowing it to get food from the water by capturing microscopic creatures that it would otherwise miss. Because it was strong and flexible at the same time, baleen could be put to use in a variety of different contexts. As time went on, people started referring to it as “whalebone.” The construction of corsets, which fashionable women in the 1800s used to compress their waistlines, was perhaps the most prevalent usage of whalebone in the past.
Corsets were made from whalebone. An example of a typical advertising for a corset that was published in the 1800s announces proudly, “Real Whalebone Only Used.” Collar stays, buggy whips, and even toys were all made out of whalebone in the past. Because of its extraordinary flexibility, it was also utilized as the springs in early typewriters.
- [Citation needed] The analogy to plastic works quite well here.
- Think of any everyday objects that you could find made of plastic now; it’s possible that comparable products would have been fashioned of whalebone back in the 1800s.
- There are no teeth present in baleen whales.
- However, the teeth of other whales, such as the sperm whale, are used in place of ivory in a variety of goods, including the handles of walking sticks, chess pieces, and piano keys.
Pieces of scrimshaw, also known as carved whale’s teeth, are most likely going to be the most well-known application of whale’s teeth. However, the carved teeth were never produced in vast quantities since they were only ever made as a way to pass the time on whaling excursions.
What is made out of whale sperm?
Ambergris is frequently referred to as one of the most peculiar natural phenomena that may be found anywhere in the globe. It has been utilized for hundreds of years and is made by sperm whales, but for many years its origin was a mystery despite the fact that it has been employed for centuries.
Since the beginning of time, ambergris has been a phenomenon all its own. There is proof of the material in the form of fossils that goes back 1.75 million years, and it is quite likely that people have been making use of it for more than a thousand years. It has also been referred to as the floating gold and the treasure of the sea.
For many years, its origin was a complete mystery. During that time, several hypotheses on its origin were put up, including the idea that it was dried up sea foam or the droppings of huge birds. In spite of this, it wasn’t until large-scale whaling began in the 1800s that the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), which was previously thought to be the only producer of sperm, was really identified.
Cephalopods, such as squid and cuttlefish, make up a significant portion of the diet of sperm whales. The indigestible parts of their prey, including as the beaks and pens, are often expelled via the mouth before the digestive process begins. Even though people have been using ambergris for a very long time, its origin is still a mystery due to the peculiar qualities that it possesses.
However, under unusual conditions, these components can travel into the whale’s intestines and affix themselves together there. They develop into a solid mass of ambergris over the course of several years while they are contained within the whale. It is generally believed that ambergris acts as a shield for the whale’s internal organs, protecting them from the squid’s sharp beaks.
What are whale products used for today?
Why does whaling still take place? Whaling is considered an illegal activity in the majority of countries; nonetheless, Iceland, Norway, and Japan continue to engage in the practice. Each year, more than a thousand whales are slaughtered so that their flesh and other body parts can be sold for the purpose of making a profit.
Can a car run on whale oil?
General Motors has begun using whale oil. In the past, whale oil was a common component in a variety of products, including those that were manufactured by the automobile industry. When automatic gearboxes were first invented, whale oil was utilized as the fluid of choice to keep the gears moving smoothly.
- These days, synthetic lubricants are more commonly employed.
- It was widely used in General Motors’ automobiles right up until the very recent past, in the 1970s, when the company began to phase it out.
- Whale oil was regarded as an excellent choice by the GM experts who worked on the project since it protected against rust.
From the collection of automobile artifacts housed at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois is this photograph of a Hydra-Matic transmission. The Hydra-Matic transmission was first introduced by General Motors in 1939 and was the first fully automatic transmission made available in passenger cars.
How many barrels of oil does a sperm whale have?
Oil of the highest grade, known as spermaceti, may be discovered in the head’s case and trash chambers. This oil was sometimes kept in a different location from oil that had been derived from blubber. Case and trash oil has a straw-like hue and, when exposed to air, transforms into a white waxy substance.
- Before it can be transferred into containers, it must first be warmed in try-pots, which is another way of saying “tested.” This head oil comes in a quantity that ranges from six to eight barrels.
- According to one report, ten barrels may be extracted from a single exceptionally huge bull.
- It is believed that the case and debris together contain somewhere in the neighborhood of seven barrels’ worth of oil on average.
Oil of second grade was extracted from the thick blubber, but Rose (1958) notes that the oil extracted from the blubber was combined with oil extracted from case and trash in Peru, and the combined oil was regarded as being of first quality. A greater quantity of oil was extracted from the blubber and other portions of the animal as compared to the head’s casing and other debris.
- On the shoulders and back, the layer of blubber can reach a thickness of up to 18 inches.
- According to folklore, a single sperm whale may produce anywhere from 25 to 40 barrels of whale oil, however there have been accounts of whales producing far over 100 barrels of oil.
- Such very high yields would have needed to come from extremely uncommon bull whales in densely populated seas before widespread killing had significantly reduced the average size of the remaining survivors.
In a productive operation, almost every part of the whale was put to work, serving a variety of functions in the process. There was an insufficient amount of grax.
What does whale oil smell like?
The word “whale oil” is frequently used to refer to the oil that is produced by boiling blubber; nevertheless, numerous kinds of oily substances were extracted from whales for use in various commercial items. Whale oil is sometimes used as a general name for this oil.
- The oil extracted from sperm whale blubber, which is known as sperm oil, is remarkable due to its pale appearance and several beneficial properties. It does not emit smoke or a pungent odor when burned, it maintains its lubricating capabilities even when exposed to high temperatures, and the refining process for sperm oil results in the production of high-quality soaps.
- Spermaceti is a liquid wax that may be found in the heads of sperm whales. It is also known as head oil or head matter. Spermaceti begins to crystallize when it comes into contact with air. It burns clean and brilliant without producing any stench, much like sperm oil does
- nevertheless, due to the fact that it is a wax, it was more commonly employed in candles than in oil lamps. Candles of the best possible quality were produced by Spermaceti, and they were utilized as a benchmark for photometric research.
- Oil extracted from whales other than sperm whales is referred to as whale oil. This type of oil is also known as train oil. Although it was not of the same high quality as sperm oil, it was utilized in the production of many of the same goods, including candles, lubricants, and other items. Its hue was often a shade of brown (see below). Right whales, bowhead whales, and humpback whales were the most common species used for extracting oil from whales.
- Ambergris was a waxy material that was occasionally discovered in the stomachs of whales. It became brittle upon coming into touch with the air, and its worth was only surpassed by pearls and coral in terms of the items derived from the ocean.