Essential oil

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A fragrant, volatile plant extract with a characteristic odor. Essential oils are typically composed of terpenes that are extracted from the leaves, stems, flowers, or twigs of plants by steam distillation, solvent extraction or by pressing. They are nondrying and nonsaponifiable. Essential oils, or essences, are used in perfumes, flavorings and pharmaceuticals. Examples of essential oils are: lemon, cedar, cinnamon, clove, peppermint, lavender, almond, rosemary, and wintergreen.

Synonyms and Related Terms

aceite esencial (Esp.); huile essentielle (Fr.); olio essenziale (It); essence, perfumes

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Soluble in ethanol, carbon disulfide, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, ligroin and fatty oils. Insoluble in water.
  • Density = 0.85-1.10 g/ml

Resources and Citations

  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982