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Essential oils are volatile and liquid aroma compounds from natural sources, usually plants. Essential oils often have an odor and are therefore used in food flavoring and perfumery. They are usually prepared by fragrance extraction techniques (such as distillation, cold pressing, or Solvent extraction). Essential oils are distinguished from aroma oils (essential oils and aroma compounds in an oily solvent), infusions in a vegetable oil, absolutes, and concretes. Typically, essential oils are highly complex mixtures of often hundreds of individual aroma compounds.

  • Agar oil or oodh distilled from agarwood Aquilaria malaccensis Highly prized for its fragrance
  • Ajwain oil distilled from the leaves of Carum copticum Oil contains 3565 thymol
  • Angelica root oil distilled from the Angelica archangelica
  • Anise oil from the Pimpinella anisum rich odor of licorice
  • Asafoetida oil used to flavor food
  • Balsam of Peru from the Myroxylon used in food and drink for flavoring in perfumes and toiletries for fragrance
  • Basil oil used in making perfumes as well as in aromatherapy
  • Bay oil is used in perfumery and aromatherapy
  • Bergamot oil used in aromatherapy and in perfumes
  • Birch oil used in aromatherapy
  • Black pepper oil is distilled from the berries of Piper nigrum
  • Buchu oil made from the buchu shrub Considered toxic and no longer widely usedcitation needed Formerly used medicinally
  • Calamodin oil or calamansi essential oil comes from a citrus tree in the Philippines extracted via cold press or steam distillation
  • Calamus oil Used in perfumery and formerly as a food additive
  • Camphor oil
  • Cannabis flower essential oil used as a flavoring in foods primarily candy and beverages Also used as a scent in perfumes cosmetics soaps and candles
  • Caraway seed oil used a flavoring in foods Also used in mouthwashes toothpastes etc as a flavoring agent
  • Cardamom seed oil used in aromatherapy Extracted from seeds of subspecies of Zingiberaceae ginger Also used as a fragrance in soaps perfumes etc
  • Carrot seed oil used in aromatherapy
  • Cedar oil or cedarwood oil primarily used in perfumes and fragrances
  • Chamomile oil there are many varieties of chamomile but only two are used in aromatherapy Roman and German German chamomile contains a higher level of the chemical azulene
  • Cinnamon oil used for flavoring
  • Citronella oil from a plant related to lemon grass is used as an insect repellent
  • Citron oil used in Ayurveda and perfumery
  • Clary Sage oil used in perfumery and as an additive flavoring in some alcoholic beverages
  • Clove oil
  • Coconut oil used for skin food and hair
  • Coffee oil used to flavor food
  • Coriander oil
  • Costmary oil bible leaf oil formerly used medicinally in Europe still used as such in southwest Asia6 Discovered to contain up to 125 of the toxin thujone
  • Costus root oil
  • Cranberry seed oil equally high in omega3 and omega6 fatty acids primarily used in the cosmetic industry
  • Cubeb oil used to flavor foods
  • Cumin seed oilblack seed oil used as a flavor particularly in meat products
  • Curry leaf oil used to flavor food
  • Cypress oil used in cosmetics
  • Cypriol oil
  • Davana oil from the Artemisia pallens used as a perfume ingredient
  • Dill oil chemically almost identical to Caraway seed oilcitation needed High carvone content
  • Elecampane oil
  • Elemi oil used as a perfume and fragrance ingredient Comes from the oleoresins of Canarium luzonicum and Canarium ovatum which are common in the Philippines
  • Fennel seed oil
  • Fenugreek oil used for cosmetics from ancient times
  • Fir oilwhich
  • Frankincense oil used in aromatherapy and in perfumes
  • Galangal oilwhich used to flavor food
  • Galbanum oil used in perfumery
  • Garlic oil is distilled from Allium sativum
  • Geranium oil also referred to as geranol Used in herbal medicine aromatherapy and perfumery
  • Ginger oil used medicinally in many cultures and has been studied extensively as a nausea treatment where it was found more effective than placebo
  • Goldenrod oil used in herbal medicine including treatment of urological problems
  • Grapefruit oil extracted from the peel of the fruit Used in aromatherapy Contains 90 limonene
  • Helichrysum oil
  • Henna oil used in body art Known to be dangerous to people with certain enzyme deficiencies16 Premixed pastes are considered dangerous primarily due to adulterants
  • Hickory nut oil
  • Horseradish oil
  • Hyssop
  • Idahogrown Tansy
  • Jasmine oil used for its flowery fragrance
  • Juniper berry oil used as a flavor
  • Laurus nobilis
  • Lavender oil used primarily as a fragrance
  • Ledum
  • Lemongrass Lemongrass is a highly fragrant grass from India The oil is very useful for insect repellent
  • Lemon oil similar in fragrance to the fruit Unlike other essential oils lemon oil is usually cold pressed Used in cosmetics
  • Lime
  • Linalool
  • Litsea cubeba oil lemonlike scent often used in perfumes and aromatherapy
  • Mandarin
  • Marjoram
  • Melissa oil Lemon balm sweet smelling oil
  • Mentha arvensis oil mint oil used in flavoring toothpastes mouthwashes and pharmaceuticalsmedical citation needed as well as in aromatherapy
  • Moringa oil can be used directly on the skin and hair It can also be used in soap and as a base for other cosmetics
  • Mountain Savory
  • Mugwort oil used in ancient times for medicinal and magical purposes Currently considered to be a neurotoxinmedical
  • Mustard oil containing a high percentage of allyl isothiocyanate or other isothiocyanates depending on the species of mustard
  • Myrrh oil warm slightly musty smell
  • Myrtle
  • Neem oil or neemt ree oil
  • Neroli is produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree
  • Nutmeg oil
  • Orange oil like lemon oil cold pressed rather than distilled Consists of 90 dLimonene Used as a fragrance in cleaning products and in flavoring foods
  • Oregano oil contains thymol and carvacrol
  • Orris oil is extracted from the roots of the Florentine iris Iris florentina Iris germanica and Iris pallida It is used as a flavouring agent in perfume and medicinally
  • Palo Santo
  • Parsley oil used in soaps detergents colognes cosmetics and perfumes especially mens fragrances
  • Patchouli oil very common ingredient in perfumes
  • Pennyroyal oil highly toxic It is abortifacient and can even in small quantities cause acute liver and lung damagemedical
  • Peppermint oil
  • Perilla essential oil extracted from the leaves of the perilla plant Contains about 5060 perillaldehyde
  • Petitgrain
  • Pine oil used as a disinfectant and in aromatherapy
  • Ravensara
  • Red Cedar
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Rosehip oil distilled from the seeds of the Rosa rubiginosa or Rosa mosqueta
  • Rosemary oil distilled from the flowers of Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Rose oil distilled from rose petals used primarily as a fragrance
  • Rosewood oil used primarily for skin care applications
  • Sage oil
  • Sandalwood oil used primarily as a fragrance for its pleasant woody fragrance
  • Sassafras oil from sassafras root bark Used in aromatherapy soapmaking perfumes and the like Formerly used as a spice and as the primary flavoring of root beer inter alia Sassafras oil is heavily regulated in the United States due to its high safrole content
  • Savory oil from Satureja species Used in aromatherapy cosmetic and soapmaking applications
  • Schisandra oil
  • Spearmint oil often used in flavoring mouthwash and chewing gum among other applications
  • Spikenard
  • Spruce oil
  • Star anise oil highly fragrant oil using in cooking Also used in perfumery and soaps has been used in toothpastes mouthwashes and skin creams22 90 of the worlds star anise crop is used in the manufacture of Tamiflu a drug used to treat influenza and is hoped to be useful for avian flu
  • Tangerine
  • Tarragon oil distilled from Artemisia dracunculus
  • Tea tree oil extracted from Melaleuca alternifolia
  • The spice star anise is distilled to make star anise oil
  • Thyme oil
  • Tsuga belongs to the pine tree family
  • Turmeric used to flavor food
  • Valerian
  • Vetiver oil khus oil a thick amber oil primarily from India Used as a fixative in perfumery and in aromatherapy
  • Warionia used as a perfume ingredient
  • Western red cedar
  • Wintergreen
  • Yarrow oil
  • Ylangylang

Eucalyptus oil historically used as a germicide

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Common Types of Plant Oils

Eucalyptus oil

Most eucalyptus oil on the market is produced from the leaves of Eucalyptus globulus. Steam-distilled eucalyptus oil is used throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America and South America as a primary cleaning/disinfecting agent added to soaped mop and countertop cleaning solutions; it also possesses insect and limited vermin control properties. Note, however, there are hundreds of species of eucalyptus, and perhaps some dozens are used to various extents as sources of essential oils. Not only do the products of different species differ greatly in characteristics and effects, but also the products of the very same tree can vary grossly.

Lavender oil

Lavender oil has long been used in the production of perfume. However, it can be estrogenic and antiandrogenic, causing problems for prepubescent boys and pregnant women, in particular. Lavender essential oil is also used as an insect repellent.

Rose oil

Rose oil is produced from the petals of Rosa damascena and Rosa centifolia. Steam-distilled rose oil is known as "rose otto", while the solvent extracted product is known as "rose absolute".

Potential Dangers of Oils

The potential danger of an essential oil is sometimes relative to its level or grade of purity, and sometimes related to the toxicity of specific chemical components of the oil. Many essential oils are designed exclusively for their aroma-therapeutic quality; these essential oils generally should not be applied directly to the skin in their undiluted or "neat" form. Some can cause severe irritation, provoke an allergic reaction and, over time, prove hepatotoxic. Some essential oils, including many of the citrus peel oils, are photosensitizers, increasing the skin's vulnerability to sunlight. Industrial users of essential oils should consult the safety data sheets (SDS) to determine the hazards and handling requirements of particular oils. Even certain therapeutic grade oils can pose potential threats to individuals with epilepsy or pregnant women.

Ingestion and Oils

Essential oils are used extensively as GRAS flavoring agents in foods, beverages, and confectioneries according to strict Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and flavorist standards. Pharmacopoeia standards for medicinal oils should be heeded. Some oils can be toxic to some domestic animals, cats in particular. The internal use of essential oils can pose hazards to pregnant women, as some can be abortifacients in dose 0.510 ml, and thus should not be used during pregnancy.

Pregnancy and Oils

The use of essential oils in pregnancy is highly not recommended due to inadequate published evidence to demonstrate evidence of safety. Pregnant women often report an abnormal sensitivity to smells and taste, and essential oils can cause irritation and nausea. >strong>Essential Oil use in children can pose a danger when misused because of their thin skin and immature livers. This might cause them to be more susceptible to toxic effects than adults.


Estrogenic and antiandrogenic activity have been reported by in vitro study of tea tree oil and lavender essential oils. Case reports suggest the oils may be implicated in some cases of gynecomastia, an abnormal breast tissue growth in prepubescent boys. The European Commission's Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety dismissed the claims as implausible in 2008. However, in 2018, a study led by J. Tyler Ramsey of the American National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that these oils contain eight substances that affect human hormones, increasing the level of oestrogen and decreasing the level of testosterone. Some of the substances are found in "at least 65 other essential oils".

Oil Handling

Exposure to essential oils may cause a contact dermatitis. Essential oils can be aggressive toward rubbers and plastics, so care must be taken in choosing the correct handling equipment. Glass syringes are often used, but have coarse volumetric graduations. Chemistry syringes are ideal, as they resist essential oils, are long enough to enter deep vessels, and have fine graduations, facilitating quality control. Unlike traditional pipettes, which have difficulty handling viscous fluids, the chemistry syringe, also known as a positive displacement pipette, has a seal and piston arrangement which slides inside the pipette, wiping the essential oil off the pipette wall.

Flammability in Oils

The flash point of each essential oil is different. Many of the common essential oils, such as tea tree, lavender, and citrus oils, are classed as a Class 3 Flammable Liquid, as they have a flash point of 5060 C.

Toxicology in Oils

The following table lists the LD50 or median lethal dose for common oils; this is the dose required to kill half the members of a tested animal population. LD50 is intended as a guideline only, and reported values can vary widely due to differences in tested species and testing conditions.

Pesticide residues in Oils

There is some concern about pesticide residues in essential oils, particularly those used therapeutically. For this reason, many practitioners of aromatherapy buy organically produced oils. Not only are pesticides present in trace quantities, but also the oils themselves are used in tiny quantities and usually in high dilutions. Where there is a concern about pesticide residues in food essential oils, such as mint or orange oils, the proper criterion is not solely whether the material is organically produced, but whether it meets the government standards based on actual analysis of its pesticide content.

Oil Use in aromatherapy

Essential oils are used in aromatherapy as part of, for example, essential oil diffusers. Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine in which healing effects are ascribed to the aromatic compounds in essential oils and other plant extracts. Aromatherapy may be useful to induce relaxation, but there is not sufficient evidence that essential oils can effectively treat any condition. Essential oils should not be interpreted to be cures for chronic disease, or other illnesses, as scientific research does not support this. Much of the research on the use of essential oils for health purposes has serious methodological errors. In a systemic review of 201 published studies on essential oils as alternative medicines, only 10 were found to be of acceptable methodological quality, and even these 10 were still weak in reference to scientific standards. Use of essential oils may cause harm including allergic reactions and skin irritation; there has been at least one case of death. As such, the use of essential oils as an alternative medicine should be approached with caution.

Oil Use as pesticide

Research has shown that essential oils have potential as a natural pesticide. In case studies, certain oils have been shown to have a variety of deterring effects on pests, specifically insects and select arthropods. These effects may include repelling, inhibiting digestion, stunting growth, decreasing rate of reproduction, or death of pests that consume the oil. However, the molecules within the oils that cause these effects are normally non-toxic for mammals. These specific actions of the molecules allow for widespread use of these green pesticides without harmful effects to anything other than pests. Essential oils that have been investigated include rose, lemon grass, lavender, thyme, peppermint, and eucalyptus. Although they may not be the perfect replacement for all synthetic pesticides, essential oils have prospects for crop or indoor plant protection, urban pest control, and marketed insect repellants, such as bug spray. Certain essential oils have been shown in studies to be comparable, if not exceeding, in effectiveness to DEET, which is currently marketed as the most effective mosquito repellent. Although essential oils are effective as pesticides when first applied in uses such as mosquito repellent applied to the skin, it is only effective in the vapor stage. Since this stage is relatively short-lived, creams and polymer mixtures are used in order to elongate the vapor period of effective repellency. In any form, using essential oils as green pesticides rather than synthetic pesticides has ecological benefits such as decreased residual actions. In addition, increased use of essential oils as pest control could have not only ecological, but economical benefits as the essential oil market diversifies and popularity increases among organic farmers and environmentally conscious consumers.

Oil Dilution

Essential oils are usually lipophilic compounds that usually are not miscible with water. They can be diluted in solvents like pure ethanol and polyethylene glycol. The most common way to safely dilute essential oils for topical use is in a carrier oil. This can be any vegetable oil readily available, the most popular for skin care being jojoba, coconut, wheat germ, olive and avocado.




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