The Chemistry of Essential Oils


Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in seeds, bark, stems, roots flowers, as well as other parts of plant. They prevent plants with protection against predators, as well as disease and play a role in plant pollination. This oil is fat soluble, but doesn’t involve fatty lipids or acids found in vegetable and animal oils. Although the oils aren’t oil they seem to be very clean and get absorbed immediately into the skin. Essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile oils that can be extracted from aromatic plants.

I chose this project honestly because I couldn’t necessarily decide on what I wanted to do and everything I thought I would do was already taken. I’m very much into natural and organic food and products. As well as I think it is very interesting how essential oils can enhance certain moods for certain types of essential oils.

My life is affected by this because I am all about nature and taking care of our environment. We don’t need anything else messing up our environment. Imagine how much product we use that have so much chemicals in it that we don’t need in our skin. All the greasy and oily products used for our hair and skin. Why don’t we all just use something healthy for our skin that isn’t oily and won’t have a reaction from chemicals. Also, essential oils aren’t that much money and you don’t need much on the skin only a drop or so. It’s like $5 for a small thing of essential oils compared to spending $20 bucks or more on other products.

Composition of ...

The two principle elements of constituents of essential oils are, unsaturated hydrocarbons, the structure based on the isoprene unit also known as terpene hydrocarbons. Also, compounds with oxygen atoms, also known as oxygenated compounds, alcohols, esters, aldehydes, ketones, lactones, coumarins, ethers, and oxides etc. Also what is interesting is that there is in every single oil has more than 100 components terpenes hydrocarbons. Monoterpene carbons are found nearly in all essential oils and has a structure of 10 carbon atoms and has at least one double bond, they react with heat and air reactants. For this reason citrus oils don’t last, they are high in monoterpene hydrocarbons, they have a quick reaction to air and are oxidized. Sesquiterpenes contain 15 carbon atoms and have complex pharmacological actions.

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

The main metabolic pathway is through mevalonate lead to sesquiterpenes and from methyl-erythritol leading to monoterpenes, which is located in different parts of a plant. They can be found in the root such as vetiver grass or in stems like petiribi wood and incense in leaves like in the eucalyptus trees. It can work as eternal messengers, like defense substances or plants volatiles aimed for natural enemies but to also attract pollinating insects to their host. The essential oils are accumulated in cells, secretory cavities or glandular hairs in plants and are globules with impermeable cells whose interior has essential oils.

The two main components of essential oils are naturally occurring and are found in the plants roots and stems. They have been tried to be made in a lab, but even with today’s knowledge and technology we can’t beat mother nature.

Background Research

The essential oils are extracted from distillation by using steam, some of the other processes include expression or solvent extraction. The plants store essential oils either in external secretory structures or in the surface of the plant internal secretory structures. The external secretory structures in plants are called glandular trichome. They can be found on surface of plant (such as herb leaves) and thought to be responsible for production of chemicals that attracts pests or pollinators. Glandular trichomes are an important source of essential oils or products that can be used by the pharmaceutical industry, although many of these have evolved to provide the plant with protection against herbivores and pathogens.


About the Author

Louri Larsen is a 18 year old female that is a Junior from Senior High School in Billings,MT. Most of her childhood she grew up in Billings MT, going to school at Newman Elementary, Riverside Middle School, and now going to graduate at Billings Senior High School in January 2016. Louri’s hobbies are running/exercise, being a workaholic at Burger King, organizing, movies/music, and spending time with friends. Her plans in the future is right after finals are over going down South and going to Boot Camp for the National Guard to help pay for college. She will be going to MSU Billings and get a degree in Accounting and Business Management.