An essential oil is a concentrated, hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile or ethereal oils, or simply as the "oil of" the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove. An oil is "essential" in the sense that it carries a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant. Essential oils do not as a group need to have any specific chemical properties in common, beyond conveying characteristic fragrances. They are not to be confused with essential fatty acids.
Essential oils are generally extracted by
distillation. Other processes include expression, or
solvent extraction. They are used in
and bath products, for
flavoring food and drink, and for scenting
household cleaning products.