View your list of saved words. (You can log in using Facebook.)
Any greasy substance liquid at room temperature and insoluble in water. It may be a fixed (nonvolatile) oil, an essential oil, or a mineral oil (seepetroleum). Fixed oils and fats (derived from animals and plants) have the same chemical compositionboth are esters of glycerol and fatty acids. These oils have a variety of industrial and food uses. Linseed, tung, and other drying oils are highly unsaturated (seesaturation); these and large quantities of soybean, sunflower, and safflower oils (also constituents of foods) are used in paints and varnishes. When exposed to air they absorb oxygen and polymerize (seepolymerization), forming a tough coating. Some specialty oils and oil derivatives are also used in leather dressing and textile manufacture.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on oil, visit Britannica.com.