Nonfood versatile uses of soybean

Soy-based materials are gaining popularity in the construction industry. Soybean oil, soybean oil refining by-products and emulsion of soybean oil methyl esters are being used as release agents for concrete, competing against petroleum-based release agents. This soybean oil is being promoted for its environmental advantages and low toxicity and skin irritation to workers. When soy candles burn, they do not get as hot as paraffin candles and their fragrance spreads faster. Soy candles also burn more cleanly and do not leave soot like paraffin. Crayons made from soybean oil have better colour and do not rub off like other crayons. These all-natural crayons also cost less.

A product called 'soysilk', made from the residual compounds of soybeans following tofu manufacturing, is quickly becoming a yarn of choice. It is being used for clothing and for a cuddly new toy called 'Tofu Bear'. Soybean can also be found in everyday beauty products. Soybean is not as greasy as other products and it helps to protect the skin from the sun. Soybean is used to make shampoos and conditioners that provide nutrients to hair.

Lubricants made from soybean oil protect metal better than other lubricants, as they do not dry out like other oils and reduce cost of multiple applications. Soybeans are also used to make oil for hydraulic systems. Soy hydraulic oil is better for the environment and easier to clean up and recycle than standard hydraulic oils. Soybeans are also used to make paints and tough coatings for many surfaces. These are safe for the environment and safe enough for use in food packages.

Soybean oil is being used to develop toner for use in laser printers, copiers and fax machines. Paper printed with soy toner is easier to recycle and comes out cleaner and brighter (Fan et al., 1999). Soy foams are currently being developed for use in coolers, refrigerators, automotive interiors and even footwear (Soybean Producers Association, 2007).

Soybean oil is being used in insect sprays for orchards and trees. Soybean resins are used to make fibreglass, which is being tested to make strong yet lightweight parts for farm equipment, cars and boats. A product called 'soapstock', made from soybean parts, forms an environmentally safe coating that protects roads and helps control dust on gravel roads. Soybean solvents remove grease, paint, oil and stains without harming materials. Unlike other solvents they can be cleaned with water, making them better for the environment.

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