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No Clowning Around: Halloween and oil and natural gas

This Halloween, you may want to get your clown on—after all, what’s scarier than a clown? But you’ll need some help from petrochemicals.

Clowns can be truly terrifying. To prove the point, horror-movie aficionados have flocked to the movie It, based on a Stephen King novel about a super-scary demonic clown that terrorizes a group of kids. So far in 2017, the movie has earned $300 million in box office receipts.

Clowns just aren't as scary without the help of petrochemicals.

There’s even a word for a phobia of clowns: coulrophobia. And it’s possible that the term “heebie jeebies” came about when someone found herself suddenly looking up at a clown at a birthday party.

This Halloween, whether you plan to dress up as a scary It-like clown, or something else, it’s likely you’ll be relying on more than one oil and/or natural-gas product to get your costume ready.

Mask or Makeup:

Most Halloween masks are made from latex. While latex is found in nature as a milky white fluid found in some flowering plants, nowadays the main source is synthetic latex made by polymerizing butadiene, sometimes with other molecules such as styrene: petrochemicals derived from petroleum by-products.

Alternatively, you could go the face-painting route—in which case there’s a good chance that the paints you use contain parabens, mineral oil, paraffin, adhesives and binders derived from oil and natural gas.


That bright-red plastic clown nose or plastic blood-dripping knife are made, er, from plastic, which of course comes from oil and natural gas. Ditto on the plastic bag or plastic Jack-o-lantern bucket you’ll be carrying if you’re young enough at heart to pursue some trick-or-treats for yourself.


Most off-the-rack Halloween costumes are made from synthetic materials like polyester, which is inexpensive and won’t wrinkle when you carry it to work in your backpack or bag. Many of the bright colours in these outfits are also derived from oil and natural gas.

Glow sticks are fun and a good safety accessory Halloween night.

Glow Sticks:

Whether you’re taking the kids out on a trick-or-treat run, or going out to a late-night Halloween bash, glow sticks are both a fun and safety-mindful accessory. The outer shell is usually plastic, and the liquid inside that you shake up to make it glow is trichlorophenyl oxalate, which is derived from petrochemical building blocks like propylene and toluene.

Take a Halloween Safety Moment:

Before you and your kids go out on Halloween night, take a moment and make sure you’ve thought about safety. It’s an exciting time, especially for children, who may not always be aware of their surroundings. Make sure everyone is wearing night-visible clothing and flashing bands or glow sticks, and always check for children when driving through residential neighbourhoods.