Nasal sebum

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Nasal sebum, also known as nose grease/oil, is grease removed from the surface of the human nose. The pores of the lateral creases (where the nose joins the face) of the exterior of the nose create and store more oil and grease than pores elsewhere on the human body, forming a readily available source of small quantities of grease or oil. The grease is a particularly oily form of sebum, thought to contain more squalene (C30H50) than the secretions from other parts of the skin.[citation needed] It is notable because nose grease is a convenient durable lubricant.

Nose grease can be used to minimize scratches in optical surfaces, for example when cleaning photographic negatives.[1] Observatory lore holds that nose grease was used to reduce stray light and reflections in transmissive telescopes before the development of vacuum antireflective coatings.[2] The antireflective properties are due in part to the fact that the nose oil fills small cracks and scratches and forms a smooth, polished surface, and in part to the low index of refraction of the oil, which can reduce surface reflection from transmissive optics that have a high index of refraction. The same effect is sometimes used by numismatic hobbyists to alter the apparent grade of slightly worn coins.[3]

Nose grease is often recommended as a lubricant for fly fishing rod ferrules.[4] [5]

Nose grease has mild antifoaming properties and can be used to break down a high head on freshly poured beer or soft drinks. Wiping nose grease onto one's finger and then touching or stirring the foam causes it to dissipate rapidly.[6]

The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies suggests using nasal sebum as a remedy for chapped lips.[7][unreliable medical source?]


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  2. ^ Zirin, Harold. Astrophysics of the Sun, Cambridge University Press (1988), p. 34
  3. ^
  4. ^ McNally, Tom (1997). The complete Book Of Fly Fishing. P 20: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 9780070456389.
  5. ^ Hartley, J.R.; Russell, Michael. Fly Fishing, Memories of Angling Days, by J.R. Hartley. London: Stanley Paul. ISBN 9780091751920.
  6. ^ Bernstein, Joshua M. "Why Does Nose Grease Tame Beer Foam?" CHOW, April 3, 2008. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  7. ^ Tkac, Deborah (1990). The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies: Thousands of Tips and Techniques Anyone Can Use to Heal Everyday Health Problems (Hardcover). Rodale. p. 134. ISBN 0-87857-873-0.