Petroleum -

Is found in many parts of the world. Of the numerous theories advanced for the explanation of its generation, two stand out pre-eminently: (1) the formation of oil from vegetable matter by subterranean decomposition; and (2) its production from carbonaceous metallic compounds. In either case, terrestrial heat is thought to have been the producing agency.

The Indians used petroleum as a liniment before the white man colonized America, and, later on, it was sold as "Seneca Oil," or "Rock Oil," for many years before the present refining processes were devised. The crude article had also been employed in past ages in Europe and Asia, but its use had been dicontinued there because in that condition it was not as serviceable or economical as many vegetable and animal Oils.

It was in 1885 that the improvement in refining processes began to render the crude oil really valuable. Modern distillation releases a number of important products, divisible for the purpose of this article into four classes - (1) Crude naphtha, the lightest, which in refining gives GASOLINE, refined naphtha and benzine; (2) Burning Oils - KEROSENE in its various grades; (3) Lubricating Oils and Vaseline, and (4) the solid PARAFFIN Wax. The Burning Oils generally constitute from 40% to 50%, and Lubricating Oils from 20% to 30%, of the crude product.


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