Oil sources are either organic - plant and animal oils, or inorganic - petrochemicals. Over the next few weeks, this blog will discuss the basics of different types of plant oils -- fixed (lipid) and essential -- then compare and contrast them, and finally, look at the ways they are interrelated and can be combined.
I'll start with the plant lipid oils. (Note: there are animal lipid oils, but I will only be discussing lipid oils from plants in this blog.)
Lipid means fat. Lipids are comprised of fatty acids and triglycerides.
Oil is a substance that is a thick liquid at room temperature, that doesn't mix with water, can be dissolved in alcohol, is usually slippery, can catch fire easily, and may or may not evaporate easily. Oils are made up of chains of carbons and hydrogens. Lipid Oils are long chains of carbons and hydrogens with a fatty acid at one end of the chain and a triglyceride at the other end.
Plant lipid oils come from pressing the seeds, kernels, beans, grains, pulp fruit, and nuts of various plants. They are stable oils that don't evaporate, can usually tolerate high heat, and often have little to no aroma. You may have heard of carrier oils or base oils or fixed oils -- all of these terms are referring to lipid oils from plants. Their function within the plant is to store energy and nutrients for the seed to germinate, but they also serve our purposes.
Lipid oils contain fatty acids and healing fractions and are used in cooking and topical applications. They provide us with nutrients, like Essential Fatty Acids, (fats that our bodies need, but can't make) that support our bodies. In fact, every cell in every living organism needs some of these fats and oils to function properly. Examples of lipid oils include: Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Black Seed Oil, Hemp Seed Oil, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, etc. (There are hundreds more.)
If you are interested in learning more about lipid oils, Susan Parker's book The Power of the Seed is a great resource. Susan also offers classes online: The Carrier Oil Course; Lipid Hub; and Lipids Decoded. I highly recommend all of these!