The key difference between volatile oil and fixed oil is that volatile oils are essential oils that can vaporize easily, whereas fixed oils are nonvolatile oils.
Volatile oils are also known as essential oils. These are highly volatile oils that can evaporate even at room temperature. Fixed oils, on the other hand, do not easily evaporate. These two oils have many different applications on different occasions.
What is Volatile Oil?
The volatile oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid consisting of volatile chemical compounds from plants. These oils are also known as essential oils, ethereal oils, aetheroleum, or it is named using the name of the plant, such as oil of clove or lavender oil.
The volatile oil is named as such because it consists of the essence of the plant’s fragrance, which is volatile. These are commonly used in aromatherapy. Clove oil, lavender oil, peppermint oil, sweet orange oil, spearmint oil, Mentha arvensis oil, and cedarwood oil are some examples of popular volatile oils. They evaporate very quickly, even at room temperature; hence the name ‘volatile oil’ is used.
Generally, volatile oils are extracted by distillation using steam. In addition, there are other methods such as expression, solvent extraction, absolute oil extraction, resin tapping, wax embedding, and cold pressing. Typically, volatile oils are used in manufacturing perfumes, cosmetics, soaps, air fresheners, etc. Volatile oils can also be used in food flavoring, drinks, adding scents to incense and household cleaning products, etc.
What is Fixed Oil?
Fixed oil is a nonvolatile oil of animal or plant origin. These are esters of fatty acids, dense and nonvolatile. Fixed oils are mainly made from the seeds of plants. Some examples include olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, etc. These are useful as materials and feedstock for the production of many other useful products. They also have a low refractive index.
Fixed oils are veritable sources of energy that helps in growth and development and provides essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins for the body to boost the immune system and improve food palatability. There are different types of fixed oils, such as ground nut oil, peanut oil, oleum oliva, teel oil, maize oil, margosa oil, etc.
What is the Difference Between Volatile Oil and Fixed Oil?
Volatile oil and fixed oil are important types of oils that have many different applications on different occasions. The key difference between volatile oil and fixed oil is that volatile oils are essential oils that can vaporize easily, whereas fixed oils are nonvolatile oils. Some examples of volatile oils include melissa oil, zingiber oil, peppermint oil, etc., while some examples of fixed oils include maize oil, margosa oil, ground nut oil, peanut oil, teel oil, etc.
Moreover, volatile oils are extracted from various plant parts such as leaves, bark, and petals, whereas fixed oils are produced by seeds of plants. Since volatile oils easily evaporate at room temperature, it is easy to extract them, whereas the extraction of fixed oil is comparatively difficult.
The below infographic presents the differences between volatile oil and fixed oil in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Volatile Oil vs Fixed Oil
The volatile oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid consisting of volatile chemical compounds from plants, while fixed oil is a nonvolatile oil of animal or plant origin. The key difference between volatile oil and fixed oil is that volatile oils are essential oils that can vaporize easily, whereas fixed oils are nonvolatile oils.
1. “Volatile Oil – Definition and Examples.” Biology Online Dictionary – Biology Articles, Tutorials & Dictionary Online, 1 Mar. 2021.
2. Dhifi, Wissal, et al. “Essential Oils’ Chemical Characterization and Investigation of Some Biological Activities: A Critical Review.” Medicines (Basel, Switzerland), MDPI, 22 Sept. 2016.