Talk:Whale oil

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Does whale oil smell bad when burned? Is it smokeless as I've heard someone claim? Please respond. I'm curious.


We should erase the Norwegian link, as it refers to "Tran", which is cod liver oil, not anything extracted from whales. It should direct to "Hvalolje" in Norwegian. --Henrik46 (talk) 02:14, 18 October 2008 (UTC) yes —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:40, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

Hubble Space Telescope[edit]

The sensationalist History Channel documentary "America:The Story of Us" in episode 4 makes the breathless claim that the Hubble Space Telescope "runs" on whale oil. I don't know if they just meant that some parts are lubed with it, but they said "run" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:34, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

I did a bit of research into this after seeing this documentary. The official word from NASA is that Hubble contains no whale oil, as far as the Hubble chief engineer knows. It may be used in small quantities for lubricant, but all of the documentation that would confirm this would be in paper documents at NASA; as far as I know nobody has actually gone to NASA to research this. The only other sources I've found for this assertion are various websites of dubious validity. — Wolfgang42 (talk) 20:06, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

Train Oil[edit]

Smollett refers to Train-Oil in his 1748 novel Roderick Random, book II, chapter called Siege of St. Lazar, p 114 in the very old edition I am looking at. Middle English Trane? tear drop. The oil is pressed drop by drop supposedly? CharlesKiddell (talk) 06:26, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

Another lit ref to whale-oil[edit]

Lit ref 'whale oil' it is referred to in 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin' (Robert Browning 'Dramatic Lyrics'1842) Ln 133 when the rats imagine they hear "... a drwing of corks of trai-oil flasks." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:45, 4 October 2012 (UTC)


The article states that for the glyceride portions of whale oil "most of the fatty acids in these triglycerides are located at the 1- and 3- positions on the glycerol molecule." The statement is confusing because triglycerides by definition have 3 fatty acids, hence the -tri prefix, taking all three positions on the glycerol.

Zimmsky (talk) 21:36, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

My apologies, this was an embarrassing mistake.Kurzon (talk) 14:27, 28 December 2012 (UTC)

No uses?[edit]

If Whale oil is inferior in every way to modern alternatives, as this article seems to be written to state, then why was environmental regulations necessary? Is there really no usage that the oil is superior in? I've been lead to believe that it is better for delicate machinery but I don't have any citations.--Drewder (talk) 19:40, 7 September 2013 (UTC)

Actually there is a large scale usage of whale oil. But that is something very troublesome and you will find absolutely no official sources on this on the internet --- please try. Whale ois is used as a lubricant in applications in space and the particular man-made environments where the ionizing radiation is present. It doesn't try out there unlike the synthetic oils. I am sorry that I have to announce this as a dogmatic truth. But I have no option. Please do the deductive reasoning with the premises we do know about the whale oil and the ionizing radiation. And note that the deduction will result a valid, logically certain conclusion even without any external document of the actual usage. All yours, sincerely. (talk) 11:36, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
It is also an excellent lubricant for whales, and prevents them from squeaking. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:23, 22 September 2015 (UTC)
Natural fats in general outperform petroleum and synthetics for boundary lubrication. I'm a mechanical engineer and chemistry isn't my strong suit, but my understanding is that the polar fatty acids cling to surfaces better than simple hydrocarbons. See for example the extensive literature supporting the use of small amounts of biodiesel as an additive to improve the lubricity of ULSD and JP-8 (when used in diesel engines). My tribology professor used to claim that whale oil was the best of the bunch for this purpose although I couldn't give you a firm citation. JMT32 (talk) 21:51, 8 June 2017 (UTC)

Discovery of vegetable oil[edit]

The current lead of the article states: "With the discovery of substitutes such as kerosene and vegetable oils, the use of whale oils declined considerably." But vegetable oils have been part of human culture for millennia, long before the considerable decline in the use of whale oil. So should we conclude that vegetable oils were discovered only millenia after having been part of human culture?  --Lambiam 00:53, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

Competing claims of displacement by alcohol lamps not kerosene[edit]

Alcohol lamps became popular in the 1830s, and alcohol was considerably cheaper. In the US kerosene for lamps became popular as a result of very high tax on alcohol. This account does not explain the huge production boom of whale oil in the mid 1800s though. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:49, 20 October 2015 (UTC)

Minor edits[edit]

I contributed a few minor edits to this excellent article. Nice to have an equally minor role in its presentation. Thanks to the author for a fine contribution. KC 23:56, 4 January 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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