Examples of Petrochemicals and Petroleum Products

Both Everyday and Exotic Examples of Petrochemicals

Petrochemical plants like this produce hundreds of everyday chemicals.
Petrochemical plants like this produce ingredients for food and drugs, not just exotic chemicals and fuels. Jason Teale Photography , Getty Images

Petrochemicals are any products made from petroleum. You're probably aware gasoline and plastic start out as petroleum but did you know many drugs and food additives are petroleum products? Here is a list of examples of petrochemicals, many encountered in everyday life:

The Primary Hydrocarbons

Raw crude oil and natural gas are purified into a relatively small number of hydrocarbons, which are used directly or act as feedstock to make other chemicals:

  • methane
  • ethylene
  • propylene
  • butanes
  • butadiene
  • BTX (benzene, toluene, xylene)

Examples of Petrochemicals

In addition to these initial petroleum products, many other materials are made. Here are some specific examples of everyday products made from petrochemicals:

  • aspirin
  • carpeting
  • crayons
  • detergents
  • dyes
  • explosives
  • fertilizers
  • gasoline
  • herbicides
  • milk jugs
  • pantyhose
  • perfume
  • pesticides
  • safety glass
  • shampoo
  • soft contact lenses
  • rubber
  • wax