Saturday, July 8, 2017

Indigenous Science: Petroleum Jelly

   For the longest time, I never knew that Vaseline was a brand name. Much like Kleenex and Band-aids, Vaseline has become more or less synonymous with what is known as petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly is used as an ointment and moisturizer that can be used to prevent skin chapping and dress wounds. I use it in my noise as a moisture barrier for when the air is dry I get nose bleeds otherwise.

It is also something that was developed by First Nations people. The following is from the Aboriginal Innovations Handbook developed by Lakehead Universiy:

Name: Petroleum Jelly - Olefin hydrocarbons and Methane

tinous ointment


North American Indians used olefin hydrocar- bons and methane gelatinous ointment to aid wound healing, and to protect and moisturize human or animal wounds. Petroleum jelly is known around the world for its healing properties and qualities.As a moisture barrier, it is useful for diaper rash and wound dressings; it prevents skin chap- ping and wind burn. In the desert, it is used to protect hair and skin from the drying and burning effects of the sun's rays. Wherever fat was traditionally used, petroleum jelly was substi-tuted due to its odourless qualities.

Innovator(s): North American Indians

Date of Innovation: Unknown Origin: North and South Americas

Source: Weatherford, Jack How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World (Fawcett Columbine: New York, 1988; pages 186-187): Britannica Ency- clopedia Online (Britannia.Com Inc)

Image source: Lakehead University Archives