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Essential Oils

An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils, aetherolea, or simply as the oil of the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove. An oil is “essential” in the sense that it contains the “essence of” the plant’s fragrance—the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which it is derived. The term essential used here does not mean indispensable as with the terms essential amino acid or essential fatty acid which are so-called since they are nutritionally required by a given living organism. Rather, it has been suggested by aromatherapists that “essential oil” is a contraction of “quintessential oil,” from the Aristotelian theory of matter.

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