One day in 1859, a young chemist named Robert Chesebrough visited Titusville, Pennsylvania. He noticed that oilfield workers were using something they called “rod wax” to dress minor skin wounds.
Rod wax was an oil-drilling byproduct. Chesebrough was intrigued enough to start refining the goop. When he introduced his finished product to the public, he called it petroleum jelly. In 1872, it was named Vaseline, a word that the manufacturer said was derived from the German “wasser” for water and Greek “elaion” for oil.
Although other companies now manufacture the goop, some people still use the word “Vaseline” to refer to petroleum jelly, a mixture of natural waxes and mineral oils. Whatever you call it, you likely grew up with a jar in your home. And what a wonder this emollient continues to be: Consumers use it in dozens of ways both inside and outside the home.
Take a look at the following everyday problems and annoyances that you can solve with petroleum jelly, and you’ll never see it the same way again.