This section is from the book "Dental Medicine. A Manual Of Dental Materia Medica And Therapeutics", by Ferdinand J. S. Gorgas. Also available from Amazon: Dental Medicine.
Vaseline is obtained from crude petroleum, in the from of a petroleum jelly. In the distillation of crude petroleum there remains in the apparatus, after the separation of the light oils, a semi-liquid tar, which constitutes crude vaseline, which, in such a state, has a disagreeable odor like petroleum, of a strong taste and black color. This compound is heated in the open air, and decolorized by animal charcoal, the product being the petroleum jelly known as vaseline, which is a mixture of several hydrocarbons.
When pure, vaseline is white, inodorus and insipid, and of the consistence of jelly, or very unctuous fat. It melts at 350 C, boils at 1500 C, and distills at 2000 C, and burns without residue. Exposed for a considerable time to light, it acquires a slight odor of petroleum. It is insoluble in water, sparingly soluble in alcohol, and very soluble in warm ether, chloroform, fats, volatile oils, and sulphide of carbon. It sensibly dissolves iodine, bromine, sulphur, phosphorus, carbolic acid, benzoic acid, atropine and strychnine.
By its composition, vaseline is not capable of becoming rancid, nor of being saponified ; hence it is a very useful agent or excipient for caustic alkalies, oxides, metallic salts, and even acids in the cold without action by them, and without modifying their therapeutic properties. Incorporated in ointments, a certain quantity of vaseline will preserve them and obviate rancidity, being preferable to lard, butter, glycerine and glyceroles. The addition of paraffin will give it any consistency desired.
Vaseline is used externally as a dressing for wounds, cuts, bruises, sprains, piles, rheumatism, skin diseases, eczema, inflamed surfaces, diseases of the eye, etc., etc. Combined with carbolic acid, it forms a very useful ointment for affections of the skin, putrescent pulps of teeth, etc., etc., under the name of carbolized cosmoline.
Vaseline is an efficacious application to inflamed and excoriated surfaces of the gums and mucous membrane of the mouth ; also as a dressing introduced into the canals of teeth affected with periodontitis, and as an emollient application after the devitalization and removal of dental pulps. Carbolated cosmoline on cotton has been employed for filling root canals, but the results have not in all cases been satisfactory.
In the form of Vaseline Camphor Ice, it is a pleasant and efficacious application to chapped lips and hands, being bland and non-irritating in its action.
An ointment made by dissolving and incorporating thoroughly by the aid of heat, equal parts of vaseline and lead plaster to which a little bergamot may be added for perfume, is very serviceable for the treatment of excoriated surfaces, and dry desquamating surfaces of certain skin diseases, and especially the form of skin affection which may result from the constant use of scented soaps on the hands.
Oleo-naphthine (liquid vaseline),
Arachis oil . . . ......aa 50 centigrammes.
Pure cocaine..........5 centigrammes.
Vaselone is a substitute for vaseline and consists of a solution of stearone and margarone in neutral mineral oil. Stearone is prepared by distilling stearine with lime. Margarone is prepared in a similar way, from beef suet. Vaselone consists of 15 parts of margarone and 5 of stearone, in 100 of thoroughly purified and odorless mineral oil. The fatty product obtained, after cooling, resembles vaseline, but is not as transparent. It is white, odorless, neutral, and not affected by acids and chemical reagents.