Whale oil is mainly composed of triglycerides[10] (molecules of fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule). 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. Oil from the nose of the Sperm Whale, known as “ spermaceti“, was the most widely sought after fuel, and was available only to the rich at an 1800s cost of $2.00/gallon, which today equates to $200/gallon. Whale oils were the first of all oils — animal or mineral — to achieve commercial importance. On longer deep-sea whaling expeditions, the trying-out was done aboard the ship in a furnace known as a trywork and the carcass was then discarded into the water. From the ports it would be sold and transported across the country and would find its way into a huge variety of products. Then, hydrocarbon fuels replaced both hemp and whale oil for lighting. Lubricants. Learn more about the history and process of whaling as well as opposition to it. The pursuit and use of whale oil, along with many other aspects of whaling, are discussed in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851). And spermaceti was a major component of that success. Spermaceti could be refined into a lubricant that was ideal for precision machinery. Whales are said to have produced “the plastic of the 1800s.”. Through the 1800s, most oil was used for oil lamps and kerosene lamps--replacing whale oil, which was becoming scarce by then. $0.30. 1/2 gallon. But the teeth of other whales, such as the sperm whale, would be used as ivory in such products as chess pieces, piano keys, or the handles of walking sticks. Hemp seeds were popular as birdseed and residual cake after oil extraction, meal, marketed as cattle feed. It did have a certain odeur de poisson but represented a huge improvement over pig fat. (New Zealand, 1911), An Inuit woman tending a qulliq, a traditional whale oil lamp (Nunavut, 1999), Whale oil lamp in brown-glazed earthenware with candle bowl for the wick and base drip pan. Spermaceti was also used, distilled in liquid form, as an oil to fuel lamps. Eventually, whale oil began being used in candles as well and whalebones were made into hoop skirts. Whaling even continues today in a more limited form, after the outcry against whaling and the bans on most whaling a… Its flexibility even caused it to be used as the springs in early typewriters. I am a cast iron try pot made in Scotland in the 1800s. Through the process of distillation of the "rock oil" (petroleum) he received a kerosene-like substance, which was used in oil lamps by Russian churches and monasteries (though households still relied on candles). [1] Whale oil from the bowhead whale was sometimes known as train oil, which comes from the Dutch word traan ("tear" or "drop"). In the 1700'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, 1989). Whale Uses Whale Oil Lighting Textiles Trench Foot Explosives Lubricants. Soap Margarine. The bones and teeth of various species of whales were used in a number of products, many of them common implements in a 19th century household. Soap Margarine. They did hunt small cetaceans and utilized the carcasses of “drift” and stranded whales that washed up on shore. 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. Native use of these as food resources is documented. From the 16th century through the 19th century, whale oil was used principally as lamp fuel and for producing soap. Whale oil, in addition to be used for lubrication and illumination, was also used to manufacture soaps, paint, and varnish. Hemp oil was the most consumed lighting oil up until it was surpassed by whale oil in the 1870s. Which fits with the games fictional but heavily 19th-Century inspired aesthetic. I was used to “try out” or boil whale blubber down into precious lamp oil. I represent an important part of Gaspé life and economy, and I knew the many Gaspé families whose lives were based on the sea. Sperm whale oil is favored for lamps, because it burns slowly and does not emit bad odors as it burns. Until the invention of hydrogenation, it was used only in industrial-grade cleansers, because its foul smell and tendency to discolor made it unsuitable for cosmetic soap. 1/2 gallon. [7] It has a strong fishy odor. Commercially Harvested Whales . In the 1800s Whaling Became an Industry By the end of the 18th century, the burgeoning industrial revolution was requiring more and more oil, for the lubrication of machinery, including the spinning-jenny that had so revolutionized the woolen textile industry. [22], After the invention of hydrogenation in the early 20th century, whale oil was used to make margarine,[8] a practice that has since been discontinued. The sperm whale was the main whale being sought for its oil when the petroleum industry opened in 1859. In the late 1700s sperm whale oil was popular for lamp oils and candles because it burned with less odor and smoke than most fuels. Home Whale uses Whale oil Lighting Textiles Trench foot Explosives. Prior to the 1800s, the we used oils that were rendered from animal fat for our lighting needs. Perhaps the most common use of whalebone was in the manufacture of corsets, which fashionable ladies in the 1800s wore to compress their waistlines. Pieces of scrimshaw, or carved whale's teeth, would probably be the best remembered use of whale's teeth. Although once widely conducted, whaling has declined since the mid-20th century, when whale populations began to drop catastrophically. [3] The removal is known as "flensing" and the boiling process was called "trying out". We all know that men set forth in sailing ships and risked their lives to harpoon whales on the open seas throughout the 1800s. The uses of whale products changed as time progressed. And the oil from whales, when used to lubricate machinery, made the industrial revolution possible. Baleen whales were a major source of whale oil. When a whale was killed, it was towed to the ship and its blubber, the thick insulating fat under its skin, would be peeled and cut from its carcass in a process known as “flensing.” The blubber was minced into chunks and boiled in large vats on board the whaling ship, producing oil. The oil taken from whale blubber was packaged in casks and transported back to the whaling ship’s home port (such as New Bedford, Massachusetts, the busiest American whaling port in the mid-1800s). Prior to the 1800s, light was provided by torches, candles made from tallow, and lamps which burned oils rendered from animal fat. Whaling started becoming important commercially around the Middle Ages and Renaissance, when whale oil was used for oil lamps and whalebones were used for corsets. Whale oil - an overview. Whale oil has low viscosity (lower than olive oil),[6] is clear, and varies in color from a bright honey yellow to a dark brown, according to the condition of the blubber from which it has been extracted and the refinement through which it went. This is said to have saved whales from extinction. Despite the failed sales pitch John Adams made in the late 1700s, the American whaling industry boomed in the early to mid-1800s. [8][9], The composition of whale oil varies with the species from which it was sourced and the method by which it was harvested and processed. The comparison to plastic is apt. Most whales were hunted for their blubber, which was boiled and turned into "whale oil," used as fuel for lamps and candles. In addition, the whale was the source of a boney substance called baleen used in women's corsets, hairbrushes, buggy whips, collar stays and various other products. [1] In 1986, 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.