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What Is Mink Oil?

Fur coats may be made from minks.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2014
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Mink oil is a product that is rendered from the insulating fatty layer under the skin of minks. It is widely used in cosmetic products, especially in Europe, and also appears in creams designed for shoe care. A number of claims are made about the benefits of this oil, but it primarily acts to moisturize and protect the skin. Regular use of a moisturizer will keep skin smoother, healthier, and less prone to damage.

Part of the genus Mustelidae, minks were once widely found across much of the Northern hemisphere. They are related to weasels, and they have long, sinuous bodies that are well adapted to both land and water. Minks also have famously luxurious coats, which caused them to be sought after as a source of fur. Trappers were probably the first people to notice the benefits of the animal's oil, which helped to soften their hands. They also rubbed the oil onto their shoes to make the leather more flexible and make the shoes more waterproof.

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Traditionally, mink oil was collected after minks were slaughtered for their pelts. During the cleaning process, the thick layer of fat would be stripped away and rendered into oil. This method of extraction is still the most common, although some cosmetics companies harvest small amounts of oil from live minks. This is done by inserting a needle into the abdomen, an area with large amounts of fat, and extracting a small amount. This technique is not necessarily more humane, however, as many mink farms have notoriously poor living conditions.

Mink oil contains approximately 17% palmitoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that is also produced in the human body. Palmitoleic acid is used by the body to moisturize and lubricate the skin, and for those with dry skin, an external source of this acid can be beneficial. Many dietary supplements also contain it. Curiously, several botanical sources are actually higher in the acid, including sea buckthorn and macadamia nuts, although these ingredients are not as widely used in cosmetics. People seeking cruelty free sources should look for moisturizers with these ingredients.

In addition to a number of cosmetic products made with the oil that are designed to improve the condition of human skin, some shoe care companies also sell products that contain it. The creams for shoes are often bundled in with a waterproofer, so that the shoes can be waterproofed and conditioned at the same time. Applying moisturizers to leather shoes will help keep the material supple for longer, extending the life of the shoe.

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anon358505
Post 26

anon61633: "Save people not animals. Save the environment. Wear real fur."

Really? You're kidding. There are far too many people. The planet is overcrowded with polluting, irresponsible, overbreeding humans. People are bringing babies into the world when they cannot give them the time and/or resources to care for them properly; not even stopping to think about how they will care for their child/children before carelessly procreating and yet feeling free to ask other people to pick up their slack.

How about saving the environment by using contraception and going vegetarian?

Yes, meat-eaters too, the ones who eat the intensively-farmed animals are some of the biggest (in so many ways) offenders when it comes to environmental abuse. I'm not looking to argue. If you don't believe me, do some research.

anon308166
Post 24

Mu family of six never shops at Walmart. We do not eat fast food, we do not wear designer clothes. We do trap animals for their pelts, we do kill deer, turkey, rabbits, grouse and if we are lucky, a pheasant or two. We grow a garden, make our own jams and jellies and put up canned food. My children know where their food comes from and take active roles in providing it every day.

We are not weirdo back to the land people, just responsible and informed. The argument against hunting and trapping will always fall on deaf ears in my house. My carbon footprint is a fraction of the Walmart shopping, Big Mac eating, Aeropostale wearing people who think they are environmentally friendly.

Want to change the world? Drive less, read more, eat only foods that were produced within 50 miles from your home- better yet made at home. This is entirely possible.

I work a 40-hour week and my wife works a 40-hour week. We still find time and enjoyment in producing the goodness that we surround ourselves with. Oh yeah, this includes mink oil harvested form dead mink. I would love to see one of you ill informed people try to skin and harvest mink oil from a live mink as stated earlier. Unbelievable.

anon247145
Post 23

It is a shame that anon60639 does not put his or her issues about human wickedness into a more worthy cause like child molestation and what to do about the offenders. Cows are bred for food and milk and pelts -- is that okay or not? Sheep are bred for wool (among other things) so don't wear wool- and the cream you use on your face is tested on animals and contains animals.

anon177524
Post 22

To: anon90598: Why can't we save both?

anon164385
Post 20

Anyone who thinks that they skin animals alive has obviously never skinned an animal. It's so much easier to skin one after it's been killed. I grew up trapping wild mink for their fur and I darn sure would never try to skin one alive. Not only will it chew you up, but you'd ruin the fur in the attempt.

anon124954
Post 18

I dislike the whole "animal cruelty" campaign. I can't find one article on how to clean lipstick off my rabbit fur coat but i can find a million articles on why i shouldn't have one. You know, not all of us whom wear fur bought it. I inherited a few of mine. It seemed more like it died in vain if the whole animal isn't used, and most fur coats these days are produced in china. They consume rabbit all the time according to the J 1 visas.

So really do you want them to just throw the pelt away? Or should it be put to good use? I used to be a member of peta, until I realized Ingrid had her own psychotic thing going on and nothing peta stands for makes sense. And as far as mink goes, perhaps we should eat them. that way nothing at all is being wasted.

anon97926
Post 16

people, people. Each to their own viewpoint, however I do use mink oil for my leather tool belt. I use the oil as much as needed, no waste. Tree hugger, you are way out there. please come back to earth.

anon90598
Post 14

"Do you know where "fake fur" comes from?

It is plastic, from a petroleum by product and a non renewable resource. It is totally non- biodegradable, so your ugly fake fur will survive for thousands of years. By trying to imitate real fur you are acknowledging that fur is beautiful and warm.

The look and feel of "fake fur" should be enough to put anyone off from buying it. Fur is environmentally friendly.

Go to a cold country like Russia or Poland where there are few urban tree huggers. Fur is worn for its warmth. Yes it also looks good, why not?

Let's seize some of PETA's ill gotten gains and put the money to good use like the Haiti relief effort.

Save people not animals.

Save the environment. Wear real fur."

Whoever wrote this is a misinformed jerk! First of all, wearing real fur does not help the environment in any way. This is the 21st century. There are plenty of cruelty free alternatives to fur, and environmentally friendly alternatives to fake fur. Neither one is necessary.

And newsflash, buddy, humans are animals as well. And last time I checked, no creature's life is more important than any other's. There are so many animals that naturally protect the balance of nature that to get rid of one of a particular creature could have disastrous effects.

If anything, humans are like the cancer of this planet. Overpopulating, over-consuming, and destroying anything and everything in their path for the sake of greed, vanity, and entertainment.

Humans are evolution's biggest mistake. The same people you're griping about, probably wouldn't care less about you if it were the other way around.

And who is buying fur helping? Whose life is it saving? Isn't fur mostly brought by the rich who more than likely do nothing to help the poor at all?

You go out, save a life. Do something to help someone instead of advocating the death of another creature so that rich women, or men, can flaunt their so-called wealth. Then you can talk. Go and actually help the environment.

anon88164
Post 13

You all obviously didn't read the entire article by Wisegeek. The oil can be harvested while the animals are alive, by needle aspiration.

I grew up on a cattle ranch, so I love animals but I also see clearly how the food chain works. By the way, that goes for those who believe in God and those who don't.

anon61633
Post 11

Do you know where "fake fur" comes from?

It is plastic, from a petroleum by product and a non renewable resource. It is totally non biodegradable, so your ugly fake fur will survive for thousands of years. By trying to imitate real fur you are acknowledging that fur is beautiful and warm.

The look and feel of "fake fur" should be enough to put anyone off from buying it. Fur is environmentally friendly.

Go to a cold country like Russia or Poland where there a few urban tree huggers. Fur is worn for its warmth. Yes it also looks good, why not?

Let's seize some of PETA's ill gotten gains and put the money to good use like the Haiti relief effort.

Save people not animals.

Save the environment. Wear real fur.

anon60800
Post 10

Fact: People are jobless, starving, suffering and dying out there. Real people, not animals. There are more than enough "causes" for you to join. Get a grip.

Fact: You have no idea "why" someone buys a fur coat, and it's none of your business anyway. You don't get to decide what is or isn't a legitimate reason for buying fur.

Fact: If you are so selfless and concerned about "the world" and its resources then your very existence is hypocrisy. You are breathing poisonous CO2 into the atmosphere, eating the poor animals, using evil electricity, etc. Apparently you get to decide what is and isn't a ridiculous argument. Once again, you get to decide which animals we get to slaughter, which reasons are the right reasons to slaughter them, and what is or isn't cruelty to some brainless animal.

Fact: I don't own a fur coat, so according to your perspective my opinions should be true.

anon60639
Post 9

Fact: Minks are farmed for their fur, to be used in fur coats. Unlike consumption animals (cows, chickens, turkeys), minks are farmed only so they can be skinned alice for their fur and bi-products (mink oil).

These animals are bred, skinned and farmed only so some rich "Housewife of Wherever-ville" can wear it as a status symbol to impress her friends. The vast majority of people who wear fur apparel don't even wear them to be warm from the cold elements.

Most fur coats have no hoods, no proper closures in the front and I have no idea how anyone is going to stay warm when the front of their coat is wide open.

Fact: Minks are not consumption animals (have you ever heard of minks being eaten or sold for their meat?), and we don't eat minks. They exist only so they can be skinned alive for their fur. At least consumption animals are farmed for us to actually eat, for nutrition, to sustain ourselves with. The same cannot be said about the farming of "fur" animals (chinchillas, beavers, minks, etc). Its an absolutely frivolous industry.

Fact: Mink oil contains 17 percent of palmitoleic acid. Macadamia and Sea Buckthorn Oil contain 25 percent (that's 7 percent more). So, for cosmetic purposes, if a person can get 7 percent more of this essential fatty acid from a plant source, there is absolutely zero need to get it from an animal one.

Fact: The advancement of textiles has improved so greatly over the past decade. There is absolutely no reason to ever kill an animal for its pelt so you can "look" like you're wearing "fur".

I have seen some amazing faux fur coats (that are not novelty shop costumes, but designer couture garments) that would rival the look of any real fur garment.

Fact: you can shine your shoes just as easily and effectively with the backside of the skin of a banana and get the absolute same effect as using mink oil, and I guarantee you that you won't be reeking like a feral animal all day either.

And by the way, I am not a vegetarian, I don't support PETA, I do wear some leather goods, but I do think its extremely shameful to be exploiting, breeding and killing an animal for the sole purpose of skinning it for use in the fur industry.

As to the "we are the supreme rulers of the world. the other animals and plants were put here for US to consume, use and survive on" comment. Just because we are "top of the evolutionary ladder" doesn't mean we were meant to abuse our status or take take take with no regard to anything else.

And I hope that when and if Earth finally crumbles because of our greed and self-indulgence, the likes of you will the be first to be swallowed up in the wrath of it all. Secondly, we are talking about minks here. There is nothing, I mean, nothing about killing a mink that helps us "survive".

Humans are sophisticated children of invention, we do not need their pelts to keep us warm anymore. We are not Lewis and Clark, honey. No one eats minks. They are skinned alive and their carcasses discarded in the trash. If minks, chinchillas and beavers were readily eaten, then you would have an argument. But they are not.

The only reason why the fur still exists is because people feel the need to "advertise" on their backs how "important" they are to the world by wearing the skins of a dead animal. Period. End of discussion.

anon51728
Post 8

I just have to disagree with one quote in the article that "many mink farms have notoriously poor living conditions". This is completely hearsay as those against the fur industry would want people to think.

It is in the best interest of the farmer to treat their animals well, as they depend on what these animals produce. Ignorance will get activists nowhere and the majority are completely ignorant as to what actually goes on at these facilities. Not everything is the truth on the internet.

anon50906
Post 7

quote:

ahh quit your sniveling. what is it about all of these people who snivel about animals being farmed and killed?.....do you believe in a greater being, such as god?....it's believed by some that god put us, human beings on this earth. he made us the absolute top of the evolutionary ladder. its always been that way. well, one would think that god, putting us here also placed all of these other animals on earth. he made us meat eaters and consumers. we are the supreme rulers of the world. the other animals and plants were put here for US to consume, use and survive on.

- anon18621

this is the dumbest thing Ive ever heard. we all have free will, so i think that we should use it to do what we can to help our fellow living creatures. the universe doesn't revolve around humans and there is going to be life long after we are gone, so we might as well avoid using products that hurt animals if more efficient alternatives are available. I think God values all of his creatures.

anon36347
Post 5

Are you kidding me? You're in college and don't realize that if the oil is in a layer of fat under the skin the mink has to be harvested (killed) to acquire the oil

anon18621
Post 3

ahh quit your sniveling. what is it about all of these people who snivel about animals being farmed and killed?.....do you believe in a greater being, such as god?....it's believed by some that god put us, human beings on this earth. he made us the absolute top of the evolutionary ladder. its always been that way. well, one would think that god, putting us here also placed all of these other animals on earth. he made us meat eaters and consumers. we are the supreme rulers of the world. the other animals and plants were put here for US to consume, use and survive on.

anon11847
Post 2

They kill the mink, that's the only way to get the oil! It's in their fat layer right under the skin. Minks are unfortunately still farmed for their fur and they're tiny so to make a coat it must take 40 to 50 minks depending on length. They scrape the inside of the skin and collect the fat and turn it into oil. I don't think there are minks that are farmed for the oil only. If the fur industry would cease killing animals and moved to fake furs there would no longer be any mink oil.

anon10512
Post 1

I have a question cause I`ve been looking around at other sites but none of them tell me anything. What do they do to the Mink to get what they need for the Mink oil. I`m doing a paper for my College Writing class and its about Animal Abuse/Animal Slaughter. It would be very helpful if you knew the answer to my question. Thank You, Desirea

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