Bag Balm was first released in the late 1800s to help treat a cow's sore udders, but has since grown in popularity as an all-purpose salve for humans, too. Three major products comprise Bag Balm's ingredients—this recipe hasn't changed since it was first created—and give Bag Balm the soothing, moisturizing effects for which it's known.
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Bag Balm's manufacturer includes 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate at a 0.3 percent concentration. In Bag Balm, it works as an antiseptic, according to the National Cancer Institute, helping to kill bacteria. It also acts as a stabilizer to help Bag Balm keep its consistency. The Environmental Working Group's cosmetic database ranks the chemical as a 5 on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being safe and 10 being hazardous to your health. According to the group, it may contribute to cancer risks and has unknown effects on the skin when left on for extended periods of time.
Lanolin functions as one of the main bases for the 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate. In Bag Balm, it helps to both soften and hydrate your skin, according to the National Cancer Institute, potentially resulting in smoother, more supple skin. It's relatively safe, though it may cause an allergic reaction or have uncertain effects when its levels build up in your body, according to the Environmental Working Group.
Petrolatum is the second base ingredient for the 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate. Just like the lanolin, it also helps to moisturize your skin. It may also help protect your skin from UV rays and traps moisture in your skin, according to the Environmental Working Group. The group ranks petrolatum as posing a very low health risk—it ranks a 2 on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being hazardous—but may be toxic to your organs if consumed.