Is Vaseline OK? 9

I need some help from our readers! A recent event gave me a different perspective on how lip balm can be marketed. Let me give you a quick run down.

Patient is checked into the hospital. A nasal cannula in inserted into the nostrils to provide a flow of oxygen. The patient has dry lips. My purse has Vaseline. (No hand-crafted lip balm! GASP!) So the Vaseline is used to help the dry lips of the patient. The nursing staff goes crazy! It is explained to us that Vaseline is a petroleum product and it is combustible so it should not be used with the oxygen providing cannula. I asked “Combustible or Flammable?” The answer was “BOTH!” The nursing staff offered a cherry flavored Chapstick brand product instead. My brain is now on “HUH?!” mode.

So, we can understand the need for caution when oxygen is being provided but lip products don’t cause sparks, and a product is either rated flammable or combustible but it isn’t both, and Chapstick is made with petroleum products.

For those of you in the nursing or medical policy field, would you educate us? Not only do I think that being aware as a medical patient/customer is a good thing, but I also think this can give lip balm makers a chance to market their wares to a new market.

Some helpful hints for those that want to market to hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, and dentists:
1) make sure your claims can be substantiated!
2) less flavor to no flavor added is a good thing!
3) label clearly. No one has time to hunt down your ingredients or the safety of the product when the hospital stay is in the emergency room. Make your data CLEAR and easily found.

Go ahead readers! Research and teach us something!


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About Tina

I started in 1996 with the help of my husband. Now I get to help people make all kinds of soaps and bath and body products. I think my favorite things to make are lip balms and lotions/creams. Of course I get most of the soap technical support questions because that is my strong knowledge area. Glad this blog is here!

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9 thoughts on “Is Vaseline OK?

  • Cee

    VASELINE Ingredients: ~ White Petrolatum Usp (100%)
    If you go to the manufacturer’s site, the MSDS shows Vaseline to have a flash point of > 400; and a flammability rating of 1. Here’s a link:

    http:// LINK REMOVED

    Find “White Petrolatum (USP)”. Click on “DATA” to find this:
    RESTRICTIONS: As with all petroleum base products, these lubricants should NOT be used in oxygen service.

    The white petrolatum content of Chapstick isn’t all that much better:
    Padimate O 1.5% (sunscreen)
    White petrolatum 40.7% (skin protectant)
    arachidyl propionate, camphor, carnauba wax, cetyl alcohol, D&C red no. 6 barium lake, fragrance, isopropyl lanolate, isopropyl myristate, lanolin, light mineral oil, menthol, methylparaben, octyldodecanol, paraffin, phenyl trimethicone, propylparaben, saccharin, white wax.

    Unpetroleum Jelly aka “Non-petroleum Jelly” aka “Vegelatum” is easy to make:

    1 part beeswax (for vegans, use soy wax, candelilla, or carnuba.)
    4 parts olive oil (or oil of choice.)

    Melt the wax in a microwave or a double boiler. Stir in the oil. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir every 15 minutes for an hour until cool.

    NON-PETROLEUM BABY JELLY ~ Makes 500 grams

    Non-petroleum Baby Jelly is a niche product that is gaining popularity amongst home formulators with small children. Essentially it utilizes an oil, in this case moisturizing Castor Oil, to which heated beeswax is whisked in to create a whipped jelly consistency. An easy to make and fun product, it provides a protective barrier to the skin which holds in moisture and helps to prevent chapping or irritation.

    94% Castor Oil ~ 470 grams
    5% Beeswax ~ 25 grams
    1% Vitamin E MTS-50 ~ 5 grams

    1. Melt the beeswax.
    2. Heat the Castor Oil in the microwave to just above body temperature, then whisk in the Castor Oil and Vitamin E.
    3. Take off the heat and whisk gently until the product cools into a jelly consistency.
    4. Package into cosmetic jars or tottle bottles.

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    • Tina Post author


      Thank you for your research. I have removed the link because it does not go to the manufacturer’s site. Unilever currently owns the Vaseline brand. To get a MSDS for Vaseline Petroleum Jelly the site is

      The MSDS for Vaseline Petroleum Jelly does not include any declaration about oxygen service. Since the MSDS in your link refers to an industrial application for White Petrolatum I suspect this would need to include welding in the expected applications. Welding is only one area of industrial use that may add oxygen. The MSDS from Unilever does not contain any such warnings and it is specifically for personal care.

      The MSDS from Unilever also states the flashpoint of Vaseline brand Petroleum Jelly to be greater than 212°F. Under the classification of combustible and flammable products Vaseline does not qualify as either.

      Thanks for doing some research on this topic.

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    • Tina Post author

      Anyone wanting to try these recipes is encouraged to make small test batches first. Wax choice determines how much liquid oil must be added to create a spreadable material.

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  • angela holbrook

    I don’t think Vaseline is ok. I personally have a allergy to it that it causes me to get huge rashes, swell, crack and bleed. I can’t use most commercial lip balms for the same reason (this is why I actually got into the soap / lip balm making). As for the combustible / flammable I don’t know what to say as I’ve not researched it. However, by definition, ANY item that is combustible is also flammable. Whether it’s rated as that or not.

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    • Tina Post author

      Angela, I am sorry you have an allergy to petroleum products. Please make your doctor aware. Any medication that uses white petroleum will not able to be used on you. It is critical that all your charts have this warning.

      I would like to explain the legal definition of combustible vs flammable because your comments are incorrect. Combustible substances are items that have a flash point at or above 100°F. Flammable are items with a flashpoint below 100°F. It is very important to remember that these terms are not interchangeable. They are entirely misused by the layman and it is through education that we correct this misinformation.

      Please see the previous post, education continues.

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  • Emily

    Interesting! Once I started reading your post, I knew exactly where this was leading. What I couldn’t understand was the fact that the medical staff went on to explain about the contents of Vaseline (I get that) but then turned around and handed the patient Chapstick brand. A bit of contradiction (or ignorance) on their part since it is a petroleum based product. We run a small business with our main product being goat milk soap, but also offer other products such as lip balm and one of my biggest goals is to make customers aware of what each ingredient is in all of our products. So many times a consumer’s lack of awareness of certain ingredients comes from a lack of non-biased information.

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    • Tina Post author

      A consumer’s awareness certainly has a lot to do with what our media outlets choose to promote, but it also has to do with desire to learn. As consumers we all must be willing to continue to learn and call fowl on misleading but
      “new” science discoveries.

      Eggs. Milk. Cheese. Carbohydrates. Protein. Fats. Sugar. Caffeine. Alcohol. Smoking. All of these items were at one time promoted as good for the health, then the tables turned and they were the bad guy. With the exception of addiction and smoking, none on that list will be the bane it was once claimed and it will not be as good as what some radicals claim in can be.

      Education and moderation make all crazy claims appear as what they are: crazy.

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  • Debi B

    Hope you don’t mind my comment on older post.

    This seems to be where the directive began: National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 1996 edition of its Standard for Health Care Facilities.

    There is a PDF titled “Dispelling the Petroleum Jelly Myth” where the authors challenged the dogma in 1998.

    Here we are, in 2015, and it is still common practice, as you learned. My guess is that care facilities would rather be safe than sorry.

    Another, and greater risk, in my opinion, is lipid pneumonia.

    So, I think I will do the right thing and donate a bunch of awesome firm lip balms using plant-based oils and waxes, decanted in MMS mini-tubes. Perhaps the body has an easier time with plant-based lipids than with hydrocarbon-based lipids.

    Take care,

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    • Tina Post author


      Great points! We are glad to have your comments. I think this really adds to the thoughts of the situation. Sometimes I am just baffled by ongoing myth. We need more challengers of oft-repeated nonsense!


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