6 Petroleum Jelly Uses in Prepping and Survival Situations

Petroleum jelly uses in the field of prepping and survival include vaseline candles, Zippo maintenance, and even protecting wounds. Here, we’ll discuss some of petroleum jelly’s common and other peculiar uses in survival or prepping applications.

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Petroleum Jelly Survival Uses
Things not to do with Petroleum Jelly
Petroleum Jelly Alternatives
DIY Petroleum Jelly
Petroleum Jelly, A Prepping Essential

What is Petroleum Jelly?

When we hear petroleum jelly, we immediately imagine women and their many cosmetics. But what truly is petroleum jelly?

Petroleum Jelly nowadays is widely synonymous with the word Vaseline. But before it was ever branded, the first petroleum jelly was found in the mid-1800s in an oil rig. However, the workers back then called it rod wax, which annoyed the workers greatly.

Thankfully Robert Chesebrough, who had been laid off due to the discovery of oil, had decided to make use of this black, waxy substance, and BAM! By the 1870s, he would then proceed to open his first factory and call it Vaseline, which is a perfect mix of the German word Wasser, meaning water, and the Greek word elaoin, meaning oil. Fun fact: -ine suffix was added to give it a scientific-sounding ending.

So here is a list of the survival uses of petroleum jelly!

Petroleum Jelly
Image Source: https://www.onecrazyhouse.com/vaseline-uses/

Petroleum Jelly Survival Uses

When it comes to surviving the great outdoors, the key always lies in the preparation. And the key behind a good preparation, is a good knowledge on what to stock up on! But of course, we don’t want an extremely bulky pack, or even heavy loads to carry when going from one place to another.

Fortunately, petroleum jelly proves to be extremely portable and versatile. The use of petroleum jelly ranges from keeping your skin moisturized to prolonging your Zippo’s fuel, and even keeping your wounds safe from infection!

Here is a list of some survival uses for petroleum jelly.

1. Petroleum Jelly as Skin Care

When distressed about survival situations, our physical appearance is the least of our worries. However, we must make sure our skin is getting the best care we can provide for optimal protection. Petroleum jelly is best utilized to ensure this.

Our skin is one of the most important organs in our body. They protect us from harm and keep us safe from most pathogens and viruses. This is why we need to make sure they are in good shape so that we can stay in top condition ourselves. Here are just some uses petroleum jelly can help us do that!

Where can you apply petroleum jelly?

Here are a few places you can use petroleum jelly on:

  • Skin
  • Lips
  • Hair

But aside from cosmetic values, they can also:

Prevents chafing and rashes. Vaseline or petroleum jelly has moisture in them. This will help address dry and itchy skin as well as protect your feet from chafing after long walks.

Protection from Frostbites. Petroleum jelly protects the skin from wind burns as well as buffer cold conditions. When your hands do get chapped, lather it generously with vaseline and cover it for roughly 20 minutes with gloves.

Shaving. In rare occasions, petroleum jelly can be applied as an aftershave. But this is only advisable when you’re really out of options.

2. Petroleum Jelly as First Aid

When going on a trip outside, it is inevitable to encounter accidents along the way. When that happens, knowing first-aid may be the difference between life and death. And while petroleum jelly is not a medicine, it can largely stop the risk of infection.

Oftentimes, we just brush off flesh wounds or cuts that are only skin deep. Small cuts and bruises are usually not a great deal with us. But the great outdoors is home to many microscopic organisms as well as dirt and particulates that can fester in an open wound and cause an infection. This is where petroleum jelly comes in useful for wound protection.

Cleans Dirt. It’s not as effective, but petroleum jelly will slide the dirt off your hands. Just wipe it off with a paper towel, or your clothes afterward, and you’ll be good to go.

Infection Prevention. Applying petroleum jelly on shallow wounds will prevent germs and possible infectious sources from getting in them. It is not advisable to use them in deep wounds as it will cause burns.

Removes the Stickiness. When your hands feel sticky or your hair gets stuck with gum, just use petroleum jelly and let it slide right off.

3. Petroleum Jelly as an Accelerant

In most survival conditions, the most necessary thing to secure is fire. It can either be a source of light, provide heat, and cook food. While the rest of the day can be warm, night time poses a perennial problem: the cold. Fortunately, petroleum jelly can be utilized to keep the fire burning or even make a handy vaseline candle.

And even though petroleum jelly itself can’t catch fire, it sure can prolong it!

Cotton balls. Cotton balls are one of the most common flammable things used in tandem with petroleum jelly when looking to make a light source. For easy retrieval, it’s usually best when stored in ziplock bags. When coated with petroleum jelly, cotton balls burn for 10 minutes.

Dryer lint. Lint or dryer lint are those fibrous accumulations we get after washing and drying our clothes. You can get it in any fibrous materials such as clothes. When using this, it’s usually paired off with a piece of paper or regular toilet paper tubes.

Chips. We’ve seen in the many trending videos that Doritos chips are flammable, which makes it a good firestarter. However, coat it off with petroleum jelly and your flames become bigger, which is why it’s inadvisable to use it on smaller chips.

Gauze. Gauze is another multi-functional tool. It’s good for wrapping wounds, but can also start fires as well.

Be that as it may, but one unfamiliar survival use for petroleum jelly is more than just an accelerant. You can use it to make vaseline candles or even prolong your Zippo lighter’s fuel.

Vaseline Candle

A Vaseline candle is a custom emergency light source that is made with vaseline. To make this type of candle yourself, you’ll need three main things: (1) cotton balls; (2) petroleum jelly, because of course, it’s the lengthening component; and lastly (3) a metal plate.

Here’s what you’ll need to do to create your own Vaseline Candle:

  1. Gather your materials. While the three main materials you need have been mentioned earlier, you may also swap out the cotton balls for pieces of paper, or anything flammable. For the metal plate, you may swap them out for a piece of aluminum foil.
  2. Take your cotton ball, or any flammable material, and coat it thoroughly with petroleum jelly. While vaseline might not catch fire, it can certainly prolong it.
  3. Place it in your metal plate or aluminum foil and light it up. If you have no place to keep your candle on, you can simply stick the coated flammable material into the petroleum jelly container.


This is mainly because most glass jars, or glass in general, are not heat resistant. If your glass is too thin, or your fire runs too hot, it might explode and prove to be more troublesome than when you’d use a metal plate instead.

Zippo Vaseline

Zippo, or Zippo lighters, is a metal lighter that is reusable. But what makes them special is their ability to light up despite the gusting winds in the surrounding area. This particular feature makes Zippo lighters a common tool carried by US armed forces, especially in World War II.

However, there is one persistent problem Zippos have, and that is their fuel’s tendency to evaporate quickly before you even have the opportunity to use it next time. A Zippo lighter makes use of light petroleum fuels, which means it is made up of light hydrocarbon compounds from a combination of hydrogen and carbon atoms. This gives the Zippo fuel a tendency to evaporate quickly than normal fuel.

Zippo lighter

The role of petroleum jelly in Zippo is to prevent the fuel from evaporating quickly. By coating your petroleum jelly in the insert case of your Zippo lighter, you form a barrier, trapping the volatile gas, ones that are prone to evaporate quickly, inside the container.

With petroleum jelly barricading them in, your Zippo lighter will last longer than expected!

4. Petroleum Jelly as Pest Control

Aside from pathogens, germs, and bacteria, most of the things that annoy us outdoors are pests. From the crawling ants to flying bees, infesting pests irritate us and cause anxiety. Here are some petroleum jelly uses that are useful against pests:

Flies. It’s a classic fly trap contraption. Just take a piece of paper and your petroleum jelly. Layer the paper with your vaseline, and hang them up, and in no time, they’ll get stuck and can’t fly away.

Ants. To keep ants out of your food or even scraps, just apply your petroleum jelly around it, and it will prevent them from getting into your food.

Carpenter Bees. These types of bees build nests into woods, filling up these gaps will prevent them from filling it in with their nests. Using petroleum jelly with drione dust can kill them though.

5. Petroleum Jelly as a Lubricant

Being comfortable or hoping for things to run out smoothly are practical scenarios to wish for during camping or prepping for survival. Be it in our life plans or all the way to our tools, we can’t help but pray that things will continue to slide through easily.

Petroleum jelly is useful in this regard. With its natural state coming from crude oil, petroleum jelly has what it takes to keep surfaces lubricated and mechanisms run smoothly.

Zippers. Zippers are everywhere in our things, pants, jackets, tents, and even camping bags. With petroleum jelly on hand, you can ensure zippers will run smoothly.

Machinery. Coating petroleum jelly on your machines and tools will protect them from rust and corrosion in the long term. Also, this is one of the advertised purposes for petroleum jelly uses.

Problems with Stickiness

Rings. Adoration and nostalgia has always been man’s greatest strengths. So it’s not unusual to see some people wear rings, even just for the sake of wearing it. But if they get stuck on our fingers, it could impede blood circulation. Petroleum jelly’s role here can serve as an extra precaution, but still useful.

Candle wax. Cleaning dried candle wax can be very challenging and laborious. To make it easier, coat a dab of petroleum jelly in the area where the candle wax is expected to drip. This will prevent the wax from sticking too much. Planning ahead is key for this to succeed. 

Firearms. Petroleum jelly can be largely used to create a protective barrier between surfaces. For handguns and long firearms, coating them with petroleum jelly will keep the rust off. This practice is usually done as a last-case-scenario.

6. Petroleum Jelly’s Other Helpful Uses

Rust Prevention. This has been mentioned above with our discussion of machinery, but petroleum jelly can also be applied to bicycle chains or skateboard wheels to help locks work in cold conditions and even prevent corrosion on batteries. 

Restoration and Waterproofing. As a prepper, large amounts of leather can be found in your apparel and gear. With continued usage, leather can be worn down over time. Just wipe them down with an ample amount of petroleum jelly to retain their luster. This method will even waterproof leather in the process!

Things not to do with Petroleum Jelly

Despite the many different benefits petroleum jelly might give us, a product without negative effects is just too good to be true.

Petroleum Jelly, as much as it is beneficial for our skin, may also clog the pores, infinitely trapping the dust and grime we accumulate from generally going outdoors. This is also why it is not advisable for petroleum jelly to be applied on burnt skin as it creates a barrier. Yes, it might trap bacteria out, but it will also keep some infectious bacteria inside and it can be a health hazard.

Most importantly, it’s crucial to understand the signs and symptoms of petroleum jelly overdose. 

Petroleum Jelly Overdose

Petroleum Jelly overdose is excessive use of petroleum jelly. Take note, that this may be done either accidentally, or intentionally, but that all depends on how it’s been used.

It is also important to note that petroleum jelly overdose can be caused with excessive exposure to skin, eyes, nose, or even through accidental ingestion. And like any other illness, petroleum jelly overdose has a range of symptoms. Check for signs and manifestations listed below:

  • Abdominal pains
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritation in the eyes, nose, throat and/or even skin, and
  • Shortness of breath

Though the symptoms may be the same as some illnesses, it is also important to trace back our activities for better diagnosis. In the case of a suspected overdose, it is better to immediately contact 911.

While waiting for help to arrive, there are a number of urgent-care practices and substantial things to remember when dealing with petroleum jelly overdose.

First-Aid Measures in case of Petroleum Jelly Overdose

It’s important to remember that when there is a suspected petroleum jelly overdose you must immediately stop using petroleum jelly.

People who are either unconscious, have chest pains and/or breathing difficulties, drowsy, vomiting, having seizures, or have had eye injuries will need immediate and serious medical attention. While waiting, here are a few first-aid measures you may employ.

In case of ingestion, you must NOT INDUCE vomiting. This will only harm them more. Wipe off any petroleum jelly around the mouth if there is residue left behind. If they do vomit on their own, turn them on their side.

If the person appears to be not breathing, immediately start CPR or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. CPR is done by placing both of your hands in the middle of the person’s chest. During chest compressions, remember to keep your arms straight. It’s helpful if you perform the compressions with a song in mind, like the Baby Shark Song.

If they accidentally get petroleum jelly in their eyes, assist them in washing the eyes with clean water for at least fifteen minutes.

All things considered, waiting for professional medical care is all that’s left to do.

Petroleum Jelly Alternatives

As with all good things, there will come a time when our supply of petroleum jelly will eventually run out. When that happens, it’s also important to know what would make a good substitute for this versatile substance.

Like many equally good plans, it’s always best to have a back-up! And for petroleum jelly, here are some of its alternatives:

Waxelene. This substitute is an absolute organic alternative in place of petroleum jelly. It can even do most of the things petroleum jelly can, but without the greasy and waxy sensation.

Alba Botanica Un-petroleum Jelly. Like the name, this substitute contains NO PETROLEUM JELLY and is made 100% out of plant oils and botanical waxes. So if you’re an advocate for all things vegan, this is the perfect jelly to use.

Coconut Oil. Unsynthesized and all-natural, coconut oil does a better job at moisturizing than petroleum jelly can. It is safe for long term use and can even be used for cooking.

Olive Oil. Like coconut oil, it can be used to cook food and even provide good lubrication. However, it does feel greasy when used as a moisturizer.

Beeswax. Beeswax is typically utilized in cosmetics like petroleum jelly. It is also a good accelerant. Current research has mentioned that beeswax provides better barriers than other mineral products like petroleum jelly.

Honey. Not a good accelerant or lubricant, but it does soothe the skin and help heal wounds. Honey is also considered as a superfood that can give an extra boost of energy when camping or exercising. 

DIY Petroleum Jelly

If you want to make petroleum jelly yourself, there are three different ways to do it: (1) the two-ingredient Vaseline; (2) the high-moisture content; and (3) vegan vaseline. For camping and outdoor adventures, the simpler method always comes better:

  1. Take a pan, or a clean metal pan if you’re outdoors, and put it over low heat.
  2. Take 1 ounce (28g) of beeswax, along with ½ cup (118 mL) of olive oil, and put it onto the pan and wait for it to melt completely. Stir occasionally. 

*Take note: When choosing your beeswax, pellets melt easier than the blocks do. Also, yellow beeswax is better than the white ones as white varieties have undergone more refining processes, stripping away their natural properties. 

  1. Once completely melted, remove the mixture from the heat, place it into cups or containers, and have it rest until it reaches room temperature.

And there you have it, a two-ingredient vaseline!

Petroleum Jelly, A Prepping Essential

Mirroring the aphorism jack of all trades, petroleum jelly proves that it is essential in prepping. Specifically for camping or outdoor survival, it is indeed very well-rounded and useful in the field!

Petroleum jelly uses can range from making vaseline candles, keeping our Zippo fuels prolonged, all the way to protecting our wounds! For a substance that’s been originally thought of as an inconvenience, petroleum jelly has surely come a long way and has evolved over the years.

However, as many as the benefits we may reap from all the meaningful uses of petroleum jelly, too much or excessive use may lead to petroleum jelly overdose. If met with such an accident, immediately discontinue using petroleum jelly. Employ immediate and proper first aid procedures as well as contact the nearest center for poison control.

The key takeaway here is that petroleum jelly has proven to have many uses in survival. It is more than just a personal care product or a medical lubricant. Today, we’ll never regard petroleum jelly like a run-of-the-mill merchandise. It is indeed a prepping essential!

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