When we think of oil, we tend to think of fuel for our cars, trucks, and planes, and heating oil. However, there are a myriad of uses for crude oil that affects our lives – which means that reducing our dependence on oil may not be as easy as buying a hybrid car.
[Find out how to save money on gas.]
According to the Energy Information Administration, here is the breakdown of U.S. Petroleum Consumption in 2001:
- Gasoline (Used to fuel cars) – 44%
- Heating Oil (Used to heat buildings), and Diesel Fuel – 19%
- Other Products – 15%
- Jet Fuel – 8%
- Propane – 6%
- Residual Fuel Oil (powering factories, fueling large ships, and making electricity) – 5%
- Asphalt 3%
As you can see, there are a lot of important uses for crude oil besides just fueling your car.
7 Important uses Of Crude Oil
This is probably the most widespread use of oil that I can think of. Plastic is used in just about everything that you can find in a store. If an item doesn’t contain plastic, then it is probably stored or packaged in the oil based polymer!
Plastic is also used in the production of computer cases, shoes, car bumpers, kids toys, and thousands of other everyday items. Just take a quick look at every electronic device that you own (cell phone, MP3 player, cameras, routers, speakers, etc), and you’ll be sure to find plastic.
Because of it’s far-reaching impact, this has to be one of the most important uses of crude oil! In fact, many of the items on this list appear here simply because of their heavy reliance on plastics.
Petroleum is used to help make clothing non-flammable and colorful. It is used in the production of rayon, nylon, polyester, and even artificial furs.
Also, hangers are strengthened by petroleum-based resins.
According to Conoco Phillips, couch cushions are often filled with durable, lightweight polyurethane foam. Also, if you have carpet or linoleum flooring, you probably have a petroleum based product in your home.
The insulation that you find in your home – which keeps unwanted heat from escaping or entering – is a petroleum based product! This means that we depend on crude oil to regulate the temperature in our homes in more ways than we realize.
There are a number of items in your kitchen that rely on petroleum as a part of their production. For your refrigerator, the molded interior panels, door liners, and even the foam insulation are all manufactured using crude oil. Many stoves function by using natural gas.
Most of us now use non-stick pots and pans. The coating that provides temperature resistance (PTFE) is created by using petroleum.
I already mentioned above that many car bumpers are made with plastics. However, that’s not the only place where crude oil is used in the manufacturing of your car.
In the same Conoco Phillips infographic, it tells us that:
High-performance plastics have replaced heavier materials throughout the average vehicle – from the interior to the engine block – reducing weight and improving fuel economy, and enhancing safety.
Crude oil is also important in the production of you car’s hoses, wiring, and many fluids (antifreeze, brake fluid, transmission fluid, motor oil, and lubricating grease).
Yes, crude oil plays a part in the growth of your food. Fertilizer is something that relies on petroleum; thus, when the price of oil goes up, it gets more expensive to grow food.
Many of our food items are stored and or packaged in plastics as well; meaning that crude oil plays a large part in the production of your food.
This is one of the things that makes high oil prices so scary. If it costs more money to grow, store, package, transport, and regulate the temperature of our food, then that cost will be passed on to the consumers!
What This Means For Us
The price of crude oil means a lot more to us than just paying a few dollars more at the pump. As we can see, oil is important to the production and transportation of many of the items that we use on a regular basis.
This means that many sectors of the economy will be adversely affected by increasing oil prices, or helped when they go down! I guess this will really crush the dreams of those who try to organize a gas boycott when prices are high!
Ken Faulkenberry says
Oil is such an important part of our energy needs. Thanks for pointing out just how important a role it plays in our lives. That is why we need an energy policy that will provide the resources we need. I don’t mean the government sponsoring wasteful “alternative” energy with our tax dollars. I mean letting the free market develop energy at market prices. This is the most efficient way to meet our future needs. The market will provide the energy we need with the most efficient means possible.
Pat Veretto says
I think that most people never stop to think about how many ways we use oil. Our entire economy would crumble without it and not just because of the products but because of lost jobs from drilling to manufacturing. We do have drilling here, but EPA restrictions have stopped new refineries or updating of old refineries and that’s part of the problem of getting oil to the consumer in any form.
Thank you for pointing out how many things are produced with crude oil. Those who want us to abandon the use of fossil fuels entirely obviously are quite ignorant about its’ variety of uses and what we as a society would lose if we didn’t produce oil. With a world population that currently exists, the residents of this planet would all have to go back to a stone age existence and chop down all the trees to keep warm and cook our food. Not something I (nor they, I suspect) would look forward to doing.
That’s not the case. Scientists are trying new sources to replace Crude oil, because it’s more harmful than it is good. Would you rather carry a paper bag or die due to UV rays?
Besides, they’d definitely find a source (which might be equally as efficient) before banning it.
Amaan khan says
I’m a 11 year old student, and I tried to find a good website that explains all my question, and this website was a perfect ? one for me, I hope you can add more, and I’ll share this web with my friends. Awesome ?!!
The “economy” really isn’t going to matter much when the effects of global warming make it so we can’t live here anymore anyway. Most people I know, for the last 10 years we’ve been trying to get away from the use of these items. Products with plastic in them for a long time. There are many other alternatives. We buy as much as we can locally. Goods that are not wrapped in tons of plastic which is not healthy for the food, and is harmful to the environment and wasteful.. you know milk from the local farmer beer from the local Brewery and juice all of this tastes better in glass bottles. We can use paper and hemp products. I try to limit my use of plastic as much as possible. alternatives are so much nicer, higher quality and last longer. Plastic hasn’t always been available. Cheaper isn’t always better as there are many non ecomic cost associated with the petroleum based economy. The loss of millions of lives due to oil wars. The polution of the air we breath. Check out gow people have to live in China. They can’t breath outdoors without gasmasks and oxygen tanks anymore. All new construction, windows don’t open. Global warming. Get educated people. There is a tiny minority of people who extremely wealthy because of the oil industry. And they want you to believe that we have to remain dependent.Check out this movie… ” Letting go of the world”
HEMP. Does so much more than oil ever could! Renewable and HEALTHY. Reasons………… the United States should re-legalize hemp farming. These facts come in handy when trying to give someone a quick introduction to the hemp topic during a casual conversation.
1) “Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere” ~ George Washington
2) “We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption” ~ John Adams
3) “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country” ~Thomas Jefferson
4) One acre of farmed hemp produces more paper-making material than four acres of mature trees
5) Henry Ford manufactured a car out of hemp that was ten times more durable than a steel counterpart
6) Hemp can be manufactured into more than 25,000 products in the current marketplace
7) Hemp can be manufactured into a bio-degradable plastic
8) The USS Constitution had more than 60 tons of hemp materials needed to operate and navigate
9) The first flag of the United States sewn by Betsy Ross was made of hemp fabric
10) Hemp is the longest, strongest plant fiber on the planet
11) Hemp is naturally mold and mildew resistant
12) Hemp is naturally pest resistant and can be manufactured into non-toxic pesticides
13) Hemp paper is more durable than tree paper and doesn’t require bleach or chlorine to process
14) George H.W. Bush’s parachute that saved his life during WWII was made of hemp fabric
15) Hemp can be processed into fuel and run diesel engines with cleaner emissions than oil-based fuels
16) From 1000 BC to the late 1800s, hemp was one of the top agricultural crops in the world economy
17) Hemp pellets burn at between 5,000 and 8,000 BTUs per pound, similar to wood pellets
18) Hemp fabric is more absorbent than cotton fabric
19) One acre of hemp can be processed into 1,000 gallons of alcohol fuel
20) Hemp grows from seed to harvest in 60-120 days and can often produce two crops per grow season
21) Hemp is a great phytoremediator and has been used to clean up toxic grounds such as in Chernobyl
22) Hemp fiber is three times stronger than cotton fiber
23) In 1850 America, more than 8,000 plantations (minimum 2,000 acres) were farming hemp
24) Mankind farmed hemp for fiber as far back as 8000 BC in the Cradle of Civilization
25) Benjamin Franklin started one of America’s first paper mills using hemp fiber
26) The US Constitution was drafted on hemp paper
27) The majority of ship sails from 500 BC to the mid-1800s were made of hemp fabric
28) Up through the 1880s, 75% – 90% of the world’s paper was made from hemp
29) Russia supplied 80% of the western world’s hemp from 1740-1940
30) Up until the 1930s, 70% – 90% of the world’s cordage (ropes, twine, string) were made from hemp
31) In Colonial days, hemp could be used to pay taxes in America
32) The majority of paintings up into the 20th century were painted on hemp canvas
33) Rag paper, which can be made from recycled hemp fibers, is the longest lasting paper ever made
34) More than 50% of all textiles and fabrics consumed into the 19th century were made from hemp
35) Hemp seed contains easily digestible protein similar to that found in blood plasma
36) From 1942 – 1946 American farmers produced over 200,000 tons of hemp fiber for the war effort
37) Hemp seed oil boosts the immune system
38) Hemp seed oil is similar to linseed (flax seed) oil, which is used globally for numerous applications
39) Hemp seed oil is low in saturated fats and high in total essential fatty acids (that is a great thing)
40) Hemp plants grown densely will have a solid root base up to 30 inches deep
41) Farming hemp on 6% of the contiguous US land could supply fuel for all our annual energy needs
42) Hemp yields about 10 tons of biomass per acre per harvest
43) American farmers who grew hemp during WWII were exempt from military service, as were their sons
44) The Kentucky 4-H clubs (students) were asked to help grow America’s hemp seed crop in 1943
45) American farmers are subsidized NOT to farm on more than 90 million acres of viable land
46) 100 BC, China makes paper out of hemp and mulberry, two plants in the same family
47) 770 AD, China develops the first printed book “Dharna” on 100% hemp paper
48) In 1500 BC, Scythians farm hemp and develop a harvesting tool known as the scythe
49) Egyptians began to spin hemp in 4000 BC
50) Viking graves reveal hemp cloth and fishing line circa 850 AD
51) Spaniards in 1500 AD established the first western paper mill using hemp in the region known as Xativa
52) Hemp was carried by Jamestown settlers and cultivated in the Virginia colony in 1611 AD
53) Hemp pulp, known as hurd, is more than 77% cellulose, the highest percentage of any plant on earth
54) Hemp fiberboard is wind-rated over 130 mph and is superior to conventional plywood
55) Hemp concrete is lighter yet stronger than conventional concrete
56) Hemp plants are drought-resistant and can survive variable climate conditions
57) Hemp seed meal has been used as a high-protein feed for livestock
58) Hemp seed protein contains 65% globulin edestin. A very positive health benefit
59) Growing cotton in America requires more than 300 million tons of pesticides each and every year
60) The majority of religious texts are written or printed on hemp paper
61) Kimberly-Clarke, an American paper manufacturer, cultivates hemp in Europe
62) In Colonial America, you could be jailed for refusing to farm hemp
63) Houses and buildings can be completely constructed using hemp lumber, concrete and insulation
64) Hemp seed was once the leading bird seed in the United States
65) Hemp seed oil was once a primary source of lighting oil in the world.
Really good and lots of help with my school work.
When I clicked on the website I didn’t think much of it. But after I read this article I came to realize just how many ways we use oil. It’s just unbelievable! I learned so much, thank you. I also think you set up the website very well. Easy and quite clear to read.
i will be thankful if anybody can give bifurcation as below
cost of refining one barrel (159Ltrs) of crude oil
What are the products obtained after refining
Cost of each product produced
Despite all it’s uses, oil is a finite resource. It will not last forever. In fact it it entirely possible to live without it. There are already decomposable plastics that we could use to reduce plastic waste, we could swap out plastic bags for paper ones and look for more sustainable sources of power (say the sun for example, if we where able to collect the sun’s energy before it passes through our atmosphere, it would be an immensely powerful resource). We can’t foresee how much these things damage the earth, and by the time we realise it could be too late. Of course some things like lubricants and tar can only really be created with oil, but if we can use more sustainable substances for the things we can then we might just help ourselves out.
Brett M Saevitzon says
Globally, crude oil is one of the most important fuel sources and, historically, has contributed to over a third of the world’s energy consumption.Oil is especially important to businesses that heavily rely on fuel, such as airlines, plastic producers, and agricultural businesses.I found this Blog very useful!!! Thanks for sharing.