The term "vegetable oil" can be narrowly defined as referring only to substances that are liquid at room temperature, or broadly defined without regard to a substance's state (liquid or solid) at a given temperature. While a large majority of the entries in this list fit the narrower of these definitions, some do not qualify as vegetable oils according to all understandings of the term.
Vegetable oils can be classified in several ways. For instance, by their use or by the method used to extract them. In this article, vegetable oils are grouped in common classes of use.
There are several types of plant oils, distinguished by the method used to extract the oil from the plant. The relevant part of the plant may be placed under pressure to extract the oil, giving an expressed (or pressed) oil. The oils included in this list are of this type. Oils may also be extracted from plants by dissolving parts of plants in water or another solvent. The solution may be separated from the plant material and concentrated, giving an extracted or leached oil. The mixture may also be separated by distilling the oil away from the plant material. Oils extracted by this latter method are called essential oils. Essential oils often have different properties and uses than pressed or leached vegetable oils. Finally, macerated oils are made by infusing parts of plants in a base oil, a process called liquid–liquid extraction.
Sources and Uses
Most, but not all vegetable oils are extracted from the fruits or seeds of plants. For instance, palm oil is extracted from palm fruits, while soybean oil is extracted from soybean seeds.
Vegetable oils may also be classified by grouping oils extracted from similar plants, such as "nut oils".
Although most plants contain some oil, only the oil from certain major oil crops complemented by a few dozen minor oil crops is widely used and traded.
Oils from plants are used for several different purposes. Edible vegetable oils may be used for cooking, or as food additives. Many vegetable oils, edible and otherwise, are burned as fuel, for instance as a substitute for petroleum-based fuels. Some may be also used for cosmetics, medical purposes, wood finishing, oil painting and other industrial purposes.
A number of citrus plants yield pressed oils. Some, such as lemon and orange oil, are used as essential oils, which is uncommon for pressed oils.[note 1] The seeds of many if not most members of the citrus family yield usable oils.
Grapefruit seed oil, extracted from the seeds of grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi). Grapefruit seed oil was extracted experimentally in 1930 and was shown to be suitable for making soap.
Lemon oil, similar in fragrance to the fruit. One of a small number of cold pressed essential oils. Used as a flavoring agent and in aromatherapy.
Orange oil, like lemon oil, cold pressed rather than distilled. Consists of 90% d-Limonene. Used as a fragrance, in cleaning products and in flavoring foods.
Members of the Cucurbitaceae include gourds, melons, pumpkins, and squashes. Seeds from these plants are noted for their oil content, but little information is available on methods of extracting the oil. In most cases, the plants are grown as food, with dietary use of the oils as a byproduct of using the seeds as food.
Coriander seeds are the source of an edible pressed oil, Coriander seed oil.
Coriander seed oil, from coriander seeds, used in a wide variety of flavoring applications, including gin and seasoning blends. Recent research has shown promise for use in killing food-borne bacteria, such as E. coli.
Date seed oil, extracted from date pits. Its low extraction rate and lack of other distinguishing characteristics make it an unlikely candidate for major use.
Mafura oil, extracted from the seeds of Trichilia emetica. Used as an edible oil in Ethiopia. Mafura butter, extracted as part of the same process when extracting the oil, is not edible, and is used in soap and candle making, as a body ointment, as fuel, and medicinally.
Tigernut oil (or nut-sedge oil) is pressed from the tuber of Cyperus esculentus. It has properties similar to soybean, sunflower and rapeseed oils. It is used in cooking and making soap and has potential as a biodiesel fuel.
These oils are extracted from plants that are cultivated solely for producing oil-based biofuel.[note 5] These, plus the major oils described above, have received much more attention as fuel oils than other plant oils.
Linseed oil's properties as a polymer make it highly suitable for wood finishing, for use in oil paints, as a plasticizer and hardener in putty and in making linoleum. When used in food or medicinally, linseed oil is called flaxseed oil.
Astrocaryum murumuru butter is employed in lotions, creams, soaps hair conditioners, facial masks, shampoo, oils and emulsions, skin moisturizer, products for the nutrition of the hair and restore damaged hair, depilatory waxes.
Ojon oil extracted from the nut of the American palm (Elaeis oleifera). Oil extracted from both the nut and husk is also used as an edible oil in Central and South America. Commercialized by a Canadian businessman in the 1990s.
Tucumã butter is extracted from both the pulp and seed of the fruit of Astrocaryum vulgare, a South American oil palm. The pulp oil is used as a skin conditioner. The seed oil is sold for use as a cooking oil and for making soap due to its high lauric acid content.
^There are some plants that yield a commercial vegetable oil, that are also used to make other sorts of biofuel. Eucalyptus, for example, has been explored as a means of biomass for producing ethanol. These plants are not listed here.
^Carrot seeds are also used to obtain an essential oil with quite different properties than carrot seed pressed oil.
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