By Molly Fincher, World Ark writer
Would you rather grow wool instead of hair or sweat wax? Thankfully, our barnyard sheep friends do both of those things for us. We all know about how useful wool is for cozy sweaters and warm blankets, but did you know we use the waxy substance that sheep sweat for all kinds of things, too?
It’s called lanolin, from Latin lana, "wool," and oleum, "oil." In nature, lanolin’s waxy nature helps waterproof sheep’s wool and otherwise protects their wool and skin from the elements. Humans find it extraordinarily useful, too. We extract it from shorn wool and use it all the time for its moisturizing and water- and dirt-repellant properties.
Chances are you have used wool grease often without realizing it. Here are a few ways you may already be using lanolin:
• Shaving cream
• Beard/mustache wax
• Rust-proof coatings for industrial equipment
• Coatings for propellers and other boat surfaces to prevent barnacles • To soften baseball gloves
• As lubricant for brass instrument tuning slides
• For leather care, like saddle soap