Mink oil is made from mink fat and originates from China, though there are mink farms within the United States. The fat that is made into this oil is stored just beneath the skin. Removed from pelts destined for the fur industry, the fat is rendered into mink oil.
Mink oil is a source of palmitoleic acid, which possesses physical properties similar to human sebum. Because of this, mink oil is used in several medical and cosmetic products. Mink oil is also used for treating/conditioning and preserving nearly all kinds of leather.
Botanical alternatives to mink oil as a source of palmitoleic acid include macadamia nut oil (Macadamia integrifolia) and sea buckthorn oil (Hippophae rhamnoides), both of which contain a larger percentage of palmitoleic acid (22 and 40% respectively) than does mink oil (17%).
"Mink oil and its fatty acids are unique among animal-derived fats and oils. The total unsaturated fatty acids in mink oil account for more than 75% of the fatty acid content, but the oil, nevertheless, has a greater oxidative stability (resistance to rancidity)... than other animal or vegetable oils."
- US Patent 4038995 - Hair treating composition containing a mink oil fatty acid quaternary ammonium salt
- US 4038995, Edelberg, Norman L. & Chester A. Davis, "Hair treating composition containing a mink oil fatty acid quaternary ammonium salt", issued 1977
- Neatsfoot oil, leather treatment
- Saddle soap, leather cleaning and conditioning
- Antipruritic, as the oil is often an ingredient in insect bite-reliever sticks.
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