Spermaceti Unlike any other whale oil apart from sperm whale body oil and the material found in the head of the bottlenose whale () spermaceti is a liquid wax.
It was known as “head oil” or “head matter” as it was found in the heads of sperm whales where its true anatomical function is still debated.
In the Yankee whale fishery injuries and death were common to almost every voyage. Few individuals got rich whaling and most of those were owners and agents. It has particular qualities separating it from almost any other type of oil.
The answers to why so many people went whaling are many and varied but the underlying principle is that whale products had a strong commercial value if one knew how to exploit it. One in particular is that it retains its lubricating qualities in extreme temperatures making it ideal for light, rapid machinery.
While in the head it is a rose-tinted, semi-transparent liquid that crystallizes upon contact with the air.
It was barreled separately from any other oils obtained in the fishery.
If baleen was not carefully cleaned as soon as removed from the whale’s jaw, it developed an unpleasant smell that lowered its value.
Ambergris The following description is quoted verbatim from Charles H.
Oil was needed for light and lubrication; baleen was needed for skirt hoops and corset stays. Whale products The primary products of the Yankee whale fishery were sperm oil, spermaceti, whale oil and whalebone and occasionally ambergris if any were discovered.
Another feature is its superb qualities of illumination.