Definitions

tallow oil

List of vegetable oils

This list of vegetable oils includes all vegetable oils that are extracted from plants. There are three methods for removing the oil. The relevant part of the plant may be placed under pressure to "extract" the oil, giving an expressed oil. Oils may also be extracted from plants by dissolving parts of plants in water or another solvent. The solution may be separated from the plant material and concentrated, giving an extracted or leached oil. The mixture may also be separated by distilling the oil away from the plant material. Oils extracted by this latter method are called essential oils. Essential oils often have different properties and uses than pressed or leached vegetable oils. Macerated oils are made by infusing parts of plants in a base oil a process known as maceration.

Although most plants contain some oil, only the oil from certain major oil crops complemented by a few dozen minor oil crops is widely used and traded. These oils are one of several types of plant oils.

Vegetable oils can be classified in several ways, for example:

  • By source: most, but not all vegetable oils are extracted from the fruits or seeds of plants, and the oils may be classified by grouping oils from similar plants, such as "nut oils".
  • By use: oils from plants are used in cooking, for fuel, for cosmetics, for medical purposes, and for other industrial purposes.

The vegetable oils are grouped below in common classes of use.

Edible oils

Major oils

These oils account for a significant fraction of world-wide edible oil production. All are also used as fuel oils.

Nut oils

Nut oils are generally used in cooking, for their flavor. They are also quite costly, because of the difficulty of extracting the oil.

Oils from melon and gourd seeds

Members of the cucurbitaceae include gourds, melons, pumpkins, and squashes. Seeds from these plants are noted for their oil content, but little information is available on methods of extracting the oil. In most cases, the plants are grown as food, with dietary use of the oils as a byproduct of using the seeds as food.

Food supplements

A number of oils are used as food supplements, for their nutrient content or medical effect.

Other edible oils

Oils used for biofuel

A number of the oils listed above are used for biofuel (biodiesel and Straight Vegetable Oil) in addition to having other uses. A number of oils are used only as biofuel.

Although diesel engines were invented, in part, with vegetable oil in mind, diesel fuel is almost exclusively petroleum-based. Rising oil prices have made biodiesel more attractive. Vegetable oils are evaluated for use as a biofuel based on:

  1. Suitability as a fuel, based on flash point, energy content, viscosity, combustion products and other factors
  2. Cost, based in part on yield, effort required to grow and harvest, and post-harvest processing cost

Multipurpose oils also used as biofuel

The oils listed immediately below are all (primarily) used for other purposes - all but tung oil are edible - but have been considered for use as biofuel.

Inedible oils used only or primarily as biofuel

These oils are extracted from plants that are cultivated solely for producing oil-based biofuel. These, plus the major oils described above, have received much more attention as fuel oils than other plant oils.

Drying oils

Drying oils are vegetable oils that dry to a hard finish at normal room temperature. Such oils are used as the basis of oil paints, and in other paint and wood finishing applications. In addition to the oils listed here, walnut, sunflower and safflower oil are also considered to be drying oils.

Other oils

A number of pressed vegetable oils are either not edible, or not used as an edible oil.

See also

General references

Notes and references

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