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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

General structure of a triglyceride, the main constituent of vegetable oil and animal fats
Synthetic motor oil being poured

An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and is hydrophobic but soluble in organic solvents. Oils have a high carbon and hydrogen content and are nonpolar substances. The general definition above includes compound classes with otherwise unrelated chemical structures, properties and uses, including vegetable oils, petrochemical oils, and volatile essential oils. All oils can be traced back to organic sources.



Essential oil

An essential oil is a concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. An oil is 'essential' in the sense that it carries a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant. Essential oils do not, as a group, need to have any specific chemical properties in common, beyond conveying characteristic fragrances. In history, oil has been used by Vikings, Spartans, etc. in war as they believed it made them stronger.[citation needed]

Essential oils are typically extracted by distillation. Other processes include expression, or solvent extraction. They are used in perfumes, cosmetics and bath products, for flavoring food and drink, and for scenting incense and household cleaning products.

Mineral oil

Mineral oils, found in porous rocks underground, originated from organic material, such as dead plankton, accumulated on the seafloor in geologically ancient times. Through various geochemical processes this material was converted to mineral oil, or petroleum, and its components, such as kerosene, paraffin waxes, gasoline, diesel and such. These are classified as mineral oils because they do not have an organic origin on human timescales, and are instead derived from underground geologic locations, ranging from rocks, to underground traps, to sands.

Other oily substances can also be found in the environment; the most well-known of those is asphalt, occurring naturally underground or, where there are leaks, in tar pits.

Petroleum and other mineral oils (specifically labelled as petrochemicals) have become such a crucial resource to human civilization in modern times they are often referred to by the ubiquitous term of "oil" itself.

Organic oils

Organic oils are also produced by plants, animals and other organisms through organic processes, and these oils are remarkable in their diversity. Oil is a somewhat vague term in chemistry; instead, the scientific term for oils, fats, waxes, cholesterol and other oily substances found in living things and their secretions, is lipids.

Lipids, ranging from waxes to steroids, are somewhat hard to characterize, and are united in a group almost solely based on the fact that they all repel, or refuse to dissolve in, water, and are however comfortably miscible in other liquid lipids. They also have a high carbon and hydrogen content, and are considerably lacking in oxygen compared to other organic compounds and minerals.

Synthetic oils

Synthetic oil is a lubricant consisting of chemical compounds which are artificially made (synthesized) from compounds other than crude oil (petroleum). Synthetic oil is used as a substitute for lubricant refined from petroleum, because it generally provides superior mechanical and chemical properties than those found in traditional mineral oils.


A bottle of olive oil used in food.


Many edible plant and animal oils and fats are used in cooking and food preparation. In particular, many foods are fried in oil much hotter than boiling water. Oils are also used for flavoring and for modifying the texture of some foods e.g. stir fry.

Health advantages are claimed for a number of specific oils such as omega 3 oils, evening primrose oil, olive oil and coconut oil. Trans fats, often produced by hydrogenating vegetable oils, are known to be harmful to health.


Oil is used on hair to give it a lustrous look. It helps to avoid tangles and roughness to the hair. It also helps the hair to be stabilised and grow faster.[citation needed]


Almost all oils burn in aerosol form generating heat, which can be used directly, or converted into other forms of fuels by various means. The oil that is pumped from the ground is then shipped via oil tanker to an oil refinery. There, it is converted from crude oil to diesel fuel (petrodiesel), ethane (and other short-chain alkanes), fuel oils (heaviest of commercial fuels, used in ships/furnaces), gasoline (petrol), jet fuel, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas.

Electricity generation

Oil and any of its more refined products are often used to create electricity. This is done by means of a steam engine. The steam engine turns the thermal energy into rotary motion, which can then be transformed into electricity, by means of a generator.

Heat transport

Many oils have higher boiling points than water and are electrical insulators, making them useful for liquid cooling systems, especially where electricity is used.


Due to their non-polarity, oils do not easily adhere to other substances. This makes oils useful as lubricants for various engineering purposes. Mineral oils are more suitable than biological oils, which degrade rapidly in most environmental conditions.


Color pigments can be easily suspended in oil, making it suitable as supporting medium for paints. The slow drying process and miscibility of oil facilitates a realistic style. This method has been used since the 15th century.


Crude oil can be processed into petroleum; 'petrochemicals' are chemical products made from raw materials of petroleum or other hydrocarbon origin. They are used in products such as detergents, fertilizers, medicines, paints, plastics, synthetic fibres, and synthetic rubber.

Other uses

Sulfuric acid has been called oil of vitriol in pre-scientific times, due to its viscous consistency. Even in modern times, it is sometimes called vitriolic acid, and caustic personalities are called "vitriolic".[citation needed] Sulfuric acid is not a petrochemical, and in modern parlance, is not an oil.[citation needed]


Oils have been used throughout history as a fragrant or religious medium. Oil is often seen as a spiritually purifying agent. It is used in religious ceremonies, such as the chrism used in baptism, and has traditionally been used to anoint kings and queens. Oil that is associated with one or more saints is known as "oil of saints" and believed by some to have beneficial properties, as is "oil of martyrs"[1].

See also

  • Emulsifier, allow oils and water to mix
  • Wax, compounds with oil-like properties that are solid at common temperature


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Quotes about oil

  • "Moses dragged us through the desert for 40 years to bring us to the one place in the Middle East where there was no oil." ~ Golda Meir
  • "The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun." ~ Ralph Nader
  • "Overdrafts on aquifers are one reason some of our geologist colleagues are convinced that water shortages will bring the human population explosion to a halt. There are substitutes for oil; there is no substitute for fresh water." ~ Paul R. Ehrlich
  • "Nobody thinks the United States went to strike against Iraq in order to gain land or water or oil, nobody thinks America has any ambitions about real estate." ~ Shimon Peres
  • "This morning, prompted by increasing concerns about terrorism, oil prices reached a record high as the cost of a barrel of crude is a whopping $44.34. Wow, it seems shocking that a product of finite supply gets more expensive the more we use it.... Now the terror alert means higher oil prices, which oddly enough means higher profits for oil companies giving them more money to give to politicians whose policies may favor the oil companies such as raising the terror alert level. As Simba once told us — it's the circle of life." ~ Jon Stewart
  • "So when you go up against the Far Right you go up against the big financial special interests like the Halliburtons of the world, the big oil companies, the big energy companies who work so hard to rip us off." ~ Barbara Boxer
  • "This war has been motivated by pride or arrogance, by a desire to control oil wealth, by a desire to implant our programs." ~ Jimmy Carter
  • "No young American should be held hostage to America's dependence on oil" ~ John Kerry
  • "The House okayed the gasoline tax cut, which will increase the deficit, line the pockets of the oil companies, and hurt the environment; Dole said that if there was just some way this could interfere with people's sex lives, it would be perfect legislation." ~ Bill Maher
  • "This is going to be a very expensive war, and Victory is not guaranteed— for anyone, and certainly not for anyone as baffled as George W. Bush. All he knows is that his father started the war a long time ago, and that he, the goofy child-President, has been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish it Now." ~ Hunter S. Thompson
  • "I'm not dependent on oil. I can quit whenever I want. ~ Green Party (Sweden)"
Look up oil in Wiktionary, the free dictionary


Up to date as of January 15, 2010
(Redirected to oil article)

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also oïl




From Latin oleum from Ancient Greek ἔλαιον (elaion), olive oil) from ἐλαία (elaia), olive).



Wikipedia has an article on:




oil (plural oils)

  1. Liquid fat.
  2. Petroleum-based liquid used as fuel or lubricant.

Derived terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


to oil

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to oil (third-person singular simple present oils, present participle oiling, simple past and past participle oiled)

  1. (transitive) to lubricate with oil
  2. (transitive) to grease with oil for cooking






  1. to educate

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Only olive oil seems to have been used among the Hebrews. It was used for many purposes: for anointing the body or the hair (Ex 29:7; 2 Sam 14:2; Ps 235; 92:10; 104:15; Lk 7:46); in some of the offerings (Ex 29:40; Lev 7:12; Num 6:15; 15:4), but was excluded from the sin-offering (Lev 5:11) and the jealousy-offering (Num 5:15); for burning in lamps (Ex 25:6; 27:20; Mt 25:3); for medicinal purposes (Isa 1:6; Lk 10:34; James 5:14); and for anointing the dead (Mt 26:12; Lk 23:56).

It was one of the most valuable products of the country (Deut 32:13; Ezek 16:13), and formed an article of extensive commerce with Tyre (27:17).

The use of it was a sign of gladness (Ps 9210; Isa 61:3), and its omission a token of sorrow (2 Sam 14:2; Mt 6:17). It was very abundant in Galilee. (See OLIVE.)

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

Natural olive oil
Synthetic motor oil

The word oil is used for many different kinds of liquids. Oil usually does not mix with water.

Some oils are made from plants and used in foods and for cooking. Some kinds of plant oils that people use are African oil palm, maize (corn), olive, peanut, soy, and sunflower.

Other kinds of oil are made from crude oil (petroleum) which comes from under the ground. People use large oil wells to bring the oil to the top of the ground. The oil is sent in special ships called tankers or in pipelines to factories called refineries where it is distilled into LPG, gasoline (petrol), diesel fuel, and fuel oil. Plastics are also normally made from crude oil. Oils from crude oil are also used as fuels for engines or to make the parts of machines work together without sticking or stopping.

Different kinds of oils are also used for many other things, for example to make cosmetics, medicines, paints, and detergents, like washing up liquids. Soaps are similar to detergents, but they are generally made from animal fats rather than oils.

There is also synthetic oil.

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