The key difference between camphor and eucalyptus is that camphor is a waxy solid that occurs in the wood of camphor laurel tree, whereas eucalyptus is a genus in flowering trees that contains eucalyptol, which is useful as traditional medicine.
Camphor is a substance that occurs in trees, while eucalyptus is a genus of plants. Camphor and eucalyptol in eucalyptus have medicinal importance.
What is Camphor?
Chemical Structure and Properties of Camphor
Camphor is a waxy solid having a strong aroma. This solid substance is flammable and transparent, as well. Camphor is a terpenoid substance having the chemical formula C10H16O. We can find this substance naturally occurring in the wood of camphor laurel (Cinnamomum camphora), which is a large evergreen tree we can find in East Asia. However, we can synthetically produce this substance from the oil of turpentine.
There are two possible enantiomers of camphor. Among them, the one on the left is the naturally occurring form of camphor we can name as (+)-camphor. The structure on the right side is the mirror image of the naturally occurring camphor structure.
Camphor occurs as white, translucent crystals. It has a fragrance that is penetrating. For centuries, camphor was produced as a forest product through condensation from the vapour given off by the roasting of wood chips cut from the relevant trees, and later by passing steam through the pulverized wood and condensing the vapour. However, we can produce camphor from alpha-pinene (this substance is abundant in the oils of coniferous trees). We can also produce it from the distillation of turpentine that is produced as a byproduct of the chemical pulping process.
There are many different uses of camphor due to its sublimating capability. It’s used in plastic production as a plasticizer, as a pest deterrent and a preservative, as a perfume ingredient, etc. In addition to these, there are some culinary uses of camphor (such as using it as an ingredient in sweets), medicinal uses (as a topical medication as a skin cream or ointment to relieve itching caused by insect bites), in Hindu religious ceremonies, etc.
What is Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus is a genus of flowering plants which belong to the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. These plants have a bark that is smooth, fibrous, sometimes hard or stringy, and it has leaves containing oil glands, sepals and petals that tend to fuse and form a “cap” or operculum over the stamens. The fruit of this tree is a woody capsule that we can name as “gumnut”.
Properties and Uses of Eucalyptus Oil
When considering eucalyptus oil, the major component in it is eucalyptol. We can readily obtain this oil through the steam distillation of eucalyptus leaves. It is very useful for cleaning purposes and also as a solvent in industries. Moreover, it has important properties such as antiseptic properties, deodorizing, and in small quantities, it is important in food supplements, e.g. in sweets, cough drops, toothpaste and decongestants. Furthermore, this eucalyptus oil has some other important properties, such as insect propellant properties, and it serves as an active ingredient in some commercial mosquito repellents. We can observe that aromatherapists have adopted eucalyptus oil for various different purposes.
In medicine, eucalyptus oil is important in many conditions, including asthma, bronchitis, plaque, and gingivitis, head lice, toe-nail fungus, etc. However, there is not enough scientific evidence that says that this oil is good for any of these applications.
Eucalyptus leaf is likely to be safe when we consume it in small amounts in the food we eat. However, there is not enough data to say the large amounts of eucalyptus oil is safe or not when taken orally.
What is the Difference Between Camphor and Eucalyptus?
Camphor is a waxy solid substance having a strong aroma. Eucalyptus is a genus of flowering plants which belong to the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. The key difference between camphor and eucalyptus is that camphor is a waxy solid that occurs in the wood of camphor laurel tree, whereas eucalyptus is a genus in flowering trees that contains eucalyptol that is useful as traditional medicine.
Below is a summary of the differences between camphor and eucalyptus in tabular form.
Summary – Camphor vs Eucalyptus
Camphor is a substance that occurs in trees, while eucalyptus is a genus of plants. Camphor and eucalyptol in eucalyptus have medicinal importance. The key difference between camphor and eucalyptus is that camphor is a waxy solid that occurs in the wood of camphor laurel tree, whereas eucalyptus is a genus in flowering trees that contains eucalyptol that is useful as traditional medicine.
1. “EUCALYPTUS: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews.” WebMD, WebMD, Available here.
1. “Sublimed camphor” By Self – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Eucalyptus tereticornis flowers, capsules, buds and foliage” By Ethel Aardvark – Own work (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia