We all know that men set forth in sailing ships and risked their lives to harpoon whales on the open seas throughout the s. And while Moby Dick and other tales have made whaling stories immortal, people today generally don't appreciate that the whalers were part of a well-organized industry. The ships that set out from ports in New England roamed as far as the Pacific in hunt of specific species of whales. Adventure may have been the draw for some whalers, but for the captains who owned whaling ships, and the investors which financed voyages, there was a considerable monetary payoff. The gigantic carcasses of whales were chopped and boiled down and turned into products such as the fine oil needed to lubricate increasing advanced machine tools. And beyond the oil derived from whales, even their bones, in an era before the invention of plastic, was used to make a wide variety of consumer goods.
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Whale oil - Wikipedia
The sperm whale supplied spermaceti, an oily, waxy substance in great quantity and the right whale also supplied large amounts of whale bone. In the 's it was noted that the burning oil from sperm whales glowed brightly and clearly and did not have a disagreeable odor like the oil from right whales did Bonner, And spermaceti was a major component of that success. Its flexibility even caused it to be used as the springs in early typewriters. The blubber is cooked until rendered into oil, known as whale oil, that can be used for soap, and as a component in makeup that contributes a glossy shine. In , the International Whaling Commission declared a moratorium on commercial whaling, which has all but eliminated the use of whale oil today. And beyond the oil derived from whales, even their bones, in an era before the invention of plastic, was used to make a wide variety of consumer goods.
Objects Made From the Whaling Industry
Whale oil , also called train oil , any oil derived from any species of whale , including sperm oil from sperm whales , train oil from baleen whales , and melon oil from small toothed whales. From the 16th century through the 19th century, whale oil was used principally as lamp fuel and for producing soap. Long utilized for lubricating fine instruments, whale oil was treated with sulfur to provide high-pressure lubricants used in machinery, and it was also important in the manufacture of varnish , leather , linoleum , and rough cloth especially jute. Premodern oil was inedible, but advances in chemistry allowed fresh oil to be hardened into a fat , which was used for margarine and soap until vegetable oil became a practical alternative in the late s. Whale oil was extremely important in the manufacture of nitroglycerin for explosives in both world wars, and whale liver oil was a major source of vitamin D through the s.
Sperm whales are the largest of the toothed whales and have one of the widest global distributions of any marine mammal species. They are found in all deep oceans, from the equator to the edge of the pack ice in the Arctic and Antarctic. They are named after the waxy substance, spermaceti, found in their heads. Spermaceti was used in oil lamps, lubricants, and candles.