Petroleum Distillate

So I love the product, Shout®. You know, the stain remover. It comes in handy quite often. I even have an extra bottle in the car. Recently I began using the “Stain-Lifting Foam” (which comes in an aerosol can) as a roach killer on the side. I cover the roach in the stuff, then there is some twitching, and within 15 seconds it’s a goner. On the side of the bottle it says it can be harmful or fatal if ingested, but at what doses? 15 seconds just isn’t enough time to call a physician should I accidentally consume some.

The warning label says this product contains “Petroleum Distillate”, which is supposedly the lethal ingredient. What is this stuff? And just how cautious should I be handling it?


To my surprise I Googled “petroleum distillate roach killer” and it appears this ingredient is used in most bug killers. Cool, it’s a bug killer in disguise.

Petroleum is just another name for crude oil. Crude oil is distilled to produce various products including gasoline, kerosene, diesel/home heating fuel and various hydrocarbon solvents. All of these are “petroleum distillates”. In the case of Shout, “petroleum distillate” is likely a hydrocarbon solvent in the range between gasoline and kerosene.

Soaps coat the exoskeleton of a bug, and prevent it from breathing. You can use other soapy solutions as well to kill bugs. Plain water beads up on the outside of a bug, and allows it to continue breathing.

A bug is much smaller than you.

Yeah, breathing differences aside, I’d imagine it would be quite more serious if you were soaked with a 30 foot can of Shout!

‘Petroleum distillate’ is an extremely vague term for anything you can distill from crude oil. It includes everything from LPG (liquid petroleum gas) to asphalt, tar, and petroleum coke, with gasoline, kerosene, and lubricating oils falling somewhere in-between.

All of these chemicals are harmful to humans in various ways but I don’t know of any that are spectacularly toxic. The idea of something like Shout killing you in 15 seconds is absurd unless you were held face-down in a tank of the stuff. About the worst you could do is douse yourself in it and set yourself on fire, in which case you might want to get image rights for your estate worked out first.