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raw materials & chemicals > Oils

Oils

An oil is any neutral chemical substance that is a viscous liquid at ambient temperatures, is immiscible with water but soluble in alcohols or ethers. Oils have a high carbon and hydrogen content and are usually flammable and slippery (nonpolar). Oils may be animal, vegetable, or petrochemical in origin, volatile or non-volatile.

Organic oils are produced in remarkable diversity by plants, animals, and other organisms through natural metabolic processes. Lipid is the scientific term for the fatty acids, steroids and similar chemicals often found in the oils produced by living things, while oil refers to an overall mixture of chemicals. Organic oils may also contain chemicals other than lipids, including proteins, waxes and alkaloids.

Lipids can be classified by the way that they are made by an organism, their chemical structure and their limited solubility in water compared to oils. They have a high carbon and hydrogen content and are considerably lacking in oxygen compared to other organic compounds and minerals; they tend to be relatively nonpolar molecules, but may include both polar and nonpolar regions as in the case of phospholipids and steroids.

Crude oil, or petroleum, and its refined components, collectively termed petrochemicals, are crucial resources in the modern economy. Crude oil originates from ancient fossilized organic materials, such as zooplankton and algae, which geochemical processes convert into oil. It is classified as a mineral oil because it does not have an organic origin on human timescales, but is instead obtained from rocks, underground traps, or sands. Mineral oil also refers to several specific distillates of crude oil.

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