After reading several posts on Cosmoline and it's removal I keep thinking back to the days when I worked in a machine shop about 25 years ago, we used several coatings that were all referred to as "Cosmoline", but only one was actually branded Cosmoline. If I remember right, the Cosmoline coating was made by Shafco and was spayed on, it had little to no odor, and set up like an greasy wax coating, nearly completely clear. We also used several heavier and much messier coatings, one which did smell like creosote, but that stayed wet and sticky, and collected dust very quickly, the third one I remember was a wax like spray that was put on very hot, and dried up to a honey colored coating that felt like the part was dipped in plastic, that coating could be peeled off once it was cold, so long as it was put on heavy enough. Cosmoline was used on complete assemblies that were usually then crated in wood crates for export of military delivery. The creosote based coating, which was the worst to handle, was like handling a greasy old bike chain, the stuff never really dried. When an item came in with it that needed to be cleaned, we had two choices, either a heated mineral spirits solvent in a large tank, or a steam pressure washer.
Cosmoline came in both an orange colored spray can, as well as in drums that were pumped into a large spray system. But the true Cosmoline was not too hard to remove as long as you got the part warm, I would say anywhere above 100 degrees or so, at that point the stuff would wash right off. Right around the time I left that job, they had just bought a water based parts washer, which was heated, and while I never liked the idea of washing metal parts in water due to corrosion, the fact that the part emerged so hot, the water evaporated instantly, leaving the part clean and rust free.
Most of the modern parts you will see have either Cosmoline or something called Fluid Film as a protectant. Both are usually very thin and not too hard to remove. Myself, I have a small bench top parts washer that holds about 2 gallons of solvent, I have an old heating pad, not really sure where it's from, but I keep it under the parts washer for in the winter, it warms the solvent to about 85 degrees, and works great. I worked on bikes for years without a parts washer, cleaning parts in a coffee can full of gasoline, but after having one, I couldn't live without it now.
As far as storing parts, after I clean the years of grease away, I either use a zip lock bag, and spay a little WD40 inside or for larger parts, I'll spray the part in motorcycle chain lube, which seems to work much like Cosmoline.