Posted by on Nov 17, 2009 in Interesting Facts | 1 comment


Chapstick is a trade-marked brand name for lip balm, but the name has become so popular to use with any kind of lip balm that they could be in danger of losing their trade-mark. (like what happened to the Yo-Yo) The one and only Chapstick was invented in the 1870s by Dr. Charles Browne Fleet, a physician who dabbled in this sort of stuff. His original product was like a large wick-less candle wrapped in tinfoil… which wasn’t exactly a blockbuster seller. In 1912 John Morton bought the rights to the product for a whopping five dollars. His wife melted down the large pieces of the balm and formed it into smaller sticks, and its future success got underway.

Now, back to my needlessly shocking headline, how can Chapstick kill you? Strictly speaking, it can’t. Well, I suppose anything could become a choking hazard. Or if Chapstick could be fired from an air cannon at a high enough velocity… (hmm) But what I meant was some of the interesting ingredients in Chapstick. Most of it is made up of wax and oil, along with the usual suspects of any skin lotion. (vitamin E, aloe vera, etc.) One of the more interesting ingredients is Phenol… a.k.a. the Nazi Death Toxin!

Phenol is used in medicine as a germ-killing antiseptic. It even smells like “hospital”. It’s also the structural ingredient in aspirin, and had it’s debut in the manufacturing industry as a chief ingredient of Bakelite, one of the original types of plastic. Most intriguing was it’s popularity in Nazi Germany as a lethal injection. Primarily due to it’s ready availability and quick, effective results. The reason for it to be in your Chapstick is not so dastardly. It has exfoliating properties (removing dead skin) as well as some UV-protection.

Another controversial ingredient in Chapstick is oxybenzone, as found in many sunscreen products. There is some evidence to suggest that this UV absorbing compound becomes carcinogenic on the skin, which can actually cause skin cancer… which the sunscreen was trying to avoid in the first place! So you can add that to the infinite list of “_____ may cause cancer”. Yippee!

But really, the choking hazard is still the most dangerous potential of Chapstick. I’m just saying… you might not want to yawn with your eyes closed while Chapstick is nearby. Who knows what could happen?