Prior To The Advent Of Petrol-based Lubricants What Was The Best Lubricant Available?
Answer: Sperm Oil
In the 19th century, long before the advent of highly refined petrol-based and synthetic lubricants, there was pressing need for high quality machine lubricants. The most prized natural lubricant available was the oil from the spermaceti organ of the Sperm Whale. The substance found inside–technically a type of wax and not actually and oil–was an astoundingly good lubricant as it was thin, didn’t congeal or dry out, didn’t corrode metals, could withstand high temperatures, and even had a low freezing point.
As a result of all these desirable properties, Sperm Oil has been used over the last two hundred years in a very diverse range of applications including lubricating sewing machines, inside locomotive engines and, later, automotive transmissions. Although it has long since fallen out of a favor as a general use oil, it still remains a critical component in several rather high-tech fields including aero-space engineering. NASA has yet to find a lubricating oil that works so well in the deep chill of space as Sperm Oil and it has lubricated a wide variety of NASA’s projects like the Hubble Space Telescope and the Curiosity Rover.