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There are a great many natural oils, waxes, and greases from mineral, plant and animal sources. In addition, while many of the refined petroleum products were not around, raw petroleum ranging from natural gas to tar was known and used. The oil fields of Pennsylvania, Texas and Oklahoma started out as oil pools on the surface that were simply collected in buckets.
A common grease of that era would contain animal fat, wax, and graphite.
Since a great many people didn't have much access to commercial products they'd use whatever they had on hand. Bear grease or sheep's fat work quite well. Rendered sheep fat is practially odorless and doesn't spoil.
For you guys looking for sperm oil substitutes, jojoba oil is very similar chemically and actually superior for high pressure and temperature applications. Physically, jojoba acts just like sperm oil.
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