Differences between vegetable oils and essential oils

Lavender Vegetable oils and essential oils sometimes are confused in using aromatherapy. Both types of oils are natural oils, and both have therapeutic properties, but which are composed of different ways. There are many types of vegetable oils and essential oils used in aromatherapy practice, so it is important to understand first the basic differences and similarities between the two types of oils before choosing an oil for personal use.

Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils are extracted from a wide variety of plants; the part of the plant which is extracted for oil depends on the type of plant. Some plants store oil in their leaves or flowers, while others store oil in their seeds. Whatever the way in which the oils are extracted from the plant, the best vegetable oils for aromatherapy practice are cold pressed. Plants are subject to a high level of heat in the extraction process lose some of the therapeutic properties of the plant. Vegetable oils are called fixed oils because they are not volatile and do not evaporate as essential oils. Also they are not soluble in alcohol.

Essential oils

essential oils are extracted from plants, but are a different type of “oil”. Despite its name, the essential oils are typically non-greasy, unlike the vegetable oils. Essential oils are the most commonly steam distilled or cold expressed from a plant. Essential oils are extracted from the glandular hairs, bags, glands or veins of a plant, including flowers, trees, grasses, leaves and roots. They are volatile and evaporate at or above room temperature; heat normally releases the fragrance of plants in the summer time and this is actually the fragrance of the essential oil of the plant. Essential oils usually dissolved in alcohol. Not all plants produce essential oils.

Uses of vegetable oils

Vegetable oils act as carrier oils in aromatherapy. They are typically used in aromatherapy massage but are also used in the manufacture of creams and lotions aromatherapy. Vegetable oils are called carrier oils aromatherapy because “carry” the essential oils to the body. You can use vegetable oils on their own for aromatherapy massage or, for greater therapeutic effect, combined with essential oils.

not to be confused vegetable oils used in aromatherapy with vegetable oils used in cooking; vegetable oils used in cooking usually have been refined or processed and have the same therapeutic properties as cold-processed vegetable oils.

Uses of Essential Oils

Essential oils are used for a number of health problems in the practice of aromatherapy. They used in aromatherapy massage in combination with vegetable oils, or skin lotions and creams aromatherapy. You can also add essential oils for aromatherapy diffusers and candles.

Do not confuse essential oils with fragrance oils; Fragrance oils are synthetic substances that have therapeutic properties unlike essential oils that have a number of therapeutic health benefits.

Examples of vegetable oils

Common vegetable oils include sunflower (Helianthus annuus) , sweet almond (Prunus dulcis) and apricot (Prunus armeniaca) . exotic oils include avocado plant (Persea gratissima) and olive oil (Olea europaea) . Vegetable oils differ in consistency and viscosity.

Examples of essential oils

Essential oils are divided into two main categories. Essential oils distilled include Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) , pink (Rosa Damascena) and ylang ylang (Cananga odorata) oils essential. Cold expressed citrus essential oils are oils such as sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) and lime (Citrus limon) . Essential oils are medium or light oils note basis, depending on how quickly evaporate.

vegetable oils and essential oils

The chemical composition of both vegetable oils and essential oils is complex and the exact chemical composition of each oil depends on the species of plant from which it was extracted. Vegetable oils and essential oils are different – but they are also similar. Understanding the difference between the two types of oils will help you make better decisions about how to choose the right type of oil / oil combination for your particular health problem.


  • Price, Len, 1999 carrier oils for aromatherapy and massage
  • Lawless, Julia, 1995 The Illustrated Encyclopedia essential oils
  • author’s own experience

Photo by eisenrah

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