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A general name for a wide variety of viscous liquids that are obtained from mineral, vegetable, animal and synthetic substances. In general, oils are slippery, combustible liquids that are immiscible in water. In the 1800s, oil were classified as either volatile or fixed. Currently oils are further subdivided by function and type. One classification scheme is as follows (with examples):

1. Mineral - aliphatic (paraffin) or aromatic (asphaltic)

2. Vegetable - drying (linseed), semidrying (soybean) or nondrying (castor)

3. Animal - fats (Lard), liquid (Fish oil)

4. Essential - odorous oils from plants (turpentine, clove, lemon, Camphor)

5. Edible - plant oil used in food products (olive, soybean, corn)

Synonyms and Related Terms

aceite (Esp.); huile (Fr.); olio (It.)

Other Properties

Many oils are soluble in ethanol. Insoluble in water.

Drying oils often have a bright yellow autofluorescence that decreases with age

Non-fluorescent detection agents for oil: Sudan Black B

Fluorescent detection agents for oil: Rhodamine B; Dichlorofluorescein

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985

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