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whale oil,oil extracted from the blubber and other parts of certain species of whales. It varies in composition, color, and the degree of fishy odor according to the method and extent of refining. Formerly widely used as an illuminant, it was superseded by petroleum products. It is used today in soapmaking, as a leather dressing, and as a lubricant. Some is hydrogenated to form edible fats. The term is also sometimes used to include sperm oilsperm oil,
liquid wax obtained from the sperm whale, or cachalot, and related marine mammals. It flows readily, is clear, and varies in color from pale yellow to brownish yellow. Chemically it is not a true oil.
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whale oil[′wāl ‚ȯil]
A combustible, nontoxic, yellow-brown fixed oil obtained from whale blubber; soluble in alcohol, ether, chloroform, carbon disulfide, and benzene; used as a lubricant, illuminant, and leather dressing, and in soapmaking and fat manufacture. Also known as blubber oil.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.