Uses of Oils and Fats | Biology Ideas | Classifications and Uses


Botanical source – Cocos nucifera Linn.
Family – Palmae (Arecaceae)
Part used – Fruit (dried solid endosperm)
Type – Fat

Coconut oil is obtained by expression or solvent extraction from the dried solid parts of the endosperm of Cocos nucifera Linn.


Characters –

The oil is pale yellow in colour, coconut-like or odourless and liquid at 28°C to 30°C and becoming semi-solid at 20°C.

Physical and Chemical Characteristics –

Refractive Index: at 40°C, 1.448-1.450, Acid Value: not more than 2, Iodine Value: 7-10, Saponification Value: 250-264, Solubility: Soluble at 60° in 2 parts of alcohol, less soluble at lower temperatures, soluble in ether and chloroform.


Chemical Constituents –

It contains triglycerides, the constituents of the fatty acid of which are lauric acids (50%), myristic acid (20%), with smaller proportions of capric (8%), caprylic (9%), caproic (1%), oleic (4%), palmitic (7.5%) and stearic acid (3.5%).

Read Also: Oils and Fats | Biology Ideas | Definition and Classification


Uses –

  1. It is very widely used as edible fats in confectioneries, cosmetics and pharmaceutically in ointment bases.
  2. Refined coconut oil is edible and is extensively used for food products.
  3. Unrefined coconut oil is commonly used for cooking in Kerela.
  4. Oil is used for making confectionery and candy bars.
  5. Coconut oil has long been used in soap, cosmetics, shaving creams, shampoos and other toilet preparations.
  6. It is the one and only oil that has been used in marine soaps.
  7. It is also used as an illuminant.
  8. The oil cake is used as fodder and as manure.



Botanical source – Carthamus tinctorius Linn.
Family – Compositae (Asteraceae)
Part used – Seeds
Type – Drying oil (Unsaturated fatty acid)



World: It is cultivated in U.S.S.R., Mexico, India, U.S.A., Ethiopia and Australia.

India: It is cultivated in eastern Utter Pradesh,  Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh,  Karnataka.


Characters –

Safflower oil is a yellowish-yellow colour with a characteristic scent and bland flavour. It grows and becomes stronger when it is exposed to the wind for a long time.


Chemical Constituents –

Fatty acids present as glycerides, are palmitic acids 6.4%, stearic acid 3.1% arachidic 0.2%, oleic 13.4%, Linolenic acid 0.04 – 0.13%, Linoleic 76.6%.


Physical and Chemical Characteristics –

Specific Gravity at 25°C, 0.910-0.915, Refractive Index: at 40°C, 1.4690 -1.4692, Acid Value: 1.0-9.7, Saponification Value: 82.5-86, Iodine Value: 140-150. Solubility: soluble in usual oil and other fat miscible organic solvents. Reichert Meissl No. below 0.5.

Read Also: Resources of Vegetable Oils | Biology Ideas | Difference Between Vegetable and Volatile Oils


Uses –

  1. Safflower oil is an edible oil, because of its high contents of unsaturated fatty acids, Safflower oil has been given to patients with hyper-cholesterolaemia. Safflower oil may cause diarrhoea.
  2. Safflower oil is used in the treatment of atherosclerosis.
  3. Due to high linoleic acid content, it is consumed for the preparation of vegetable ghee.
  4. Industrially, it is used for the preparation of soft soap varnishes, linoleum, and water-proofing material.
  5. India has exported safflower oil to the tone of Rs. 699 lakhs during the year 1995-96.
  6. It is also used as an illuminant.



Botanical source – Garcinia purpurea
Common name – Kokum, Kokum butter, Kokum oil
Family – Guttiferae (Clusiaceae)
Part used – Seeds
Type – Fat


Chemical constituents –

It consist of glycerides of stearic, Myristic and Oleic acid.
Kokum is the fat obtained by expression from the seeds of Garcinia purpurea (G. indica).


Cultivation –

World: It is cultivated in tropical Asia, Africa and Polynesia.

India: It is distributed in Konkan, Western India and Nilgiri hills.


Distribution –

The tree grows plentiful in the Konkan, Malabar and Canara districts of Western India.

Fruits are collected and dried and seeds are separated. The dried pericarp is known as ‘Kokum.

Its taste is sweet-sour and is used in culinary preparations. Seeds contain 30 per cent fat. Seeds are expressed and solid wax-like fat known as kokum butter is obtained.

It is a pale yellow solid with a melting point of 39°C to 42°C. It consists of glycerides of stearic, myristic and oleic acids.

Read Also: Classification of Vegetable oil | Biology Ideas | Examples and Types


Uses –

  1. Kokum butter is used in dysentery and mucous diarrhoea.
  2. It is used in phthisis pneumonia.
  3. Externally it is used in skin diseases and has a healing property and is employed in ulcerations, fissures of lips and hands, chapped skin, and in wounds and sore accompanied with inflammation. It is used as an ointment and suppository base.
  4. In Europe, it is used in the preparation of pomades.
  5. It is used as a nutrient, reducing, astringent and emollient.
  6. After the extraction of oil, the left cake is used as manure.
  7. It is employed in cotton thread size.
  8. It is used in the preparation of ointments and suppositories.
  9. The dried rind of the fruit is called amsul and used as a substitute for tamarind.


Lemon Grass Oil

Botanical source – Cymbopogon citratus
Family – Gramineae (Poaceae)
Part used – Leaves
Type – essential oil
Chemical constituents – Citral, Citronellal, nerol, geraniol.


Cultivation –

World: It is cultivated in West Africa, Guatemala, and East Africa.

India: It is indigenous to India, grown in Madras, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Maharashtra.

There are two plants from which lemongrass oil is obtained (1) East Indian lemongrass oil is obtained from Cymbopogon flexuosus and West Indian lemongrass oil is obtained from Cymbopogon citratus.

East Indian oil is mainly obtained from cultivated plants in Kerala in South India and West Indian oil is obtained from cultivated plants in Guatemala, Haiti, West Indies and Kenya and Zaire in Africa.

Recently in Kerala, an improved variety of OD-19 is developed by selection. It contains more oil and citral content is 85-90 per cent as against 70-75 per cent citral of other local types.

Read Also: Oils and Fats | Biology Ideas | Definition and Classification


Uses –

  1. Leaves of both species contain 1 to 2 per cent volatile oil and volatile oil contains 70 to 80 per cent citral. Oil is used as a stimulant and carminative.
  2. Citral is a suitable substance for the synthesis of β ionone used in the synthesis of vitamin A. So the importance of lemongrass oil has increased. β – ionone synthesised from citral is exported also from India.
  3. It is used as a flavouring agent and in perfumery.
  4. This oil makes a basic raw material for manufacture. Of many aromatic chemicals, which are used in perfumery, soap and cosmetic industries.
  5. The oil is used in many pharmaceutical preparations such as pain balms and disinfectants.


Eucalyptus Oil

Botanical source – Eucalyptus globulus L.
Family – Myrtaceae
Part used – leaves
Type – Essential oil
Chemical constituents – Cineole also known as eucalyptol (80%), Piperitone and citronellal.
World – It is native to Australia and Tasmania. Now cultivated in southern France, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, India and the USA (California).
India – Nilgiris, the Anamalais, Palni hills, Simla hills, at Shillong, Assam.


Eucalyptus oil is the volatile oil obtained by distillation from the fresh leaves of high cineole containing species, Eucalyptus globulus: E polybractea and E smith.

Eucalyptus species are natives of Australia and Tasmania. Cultivation of eucalyptus is carried out in South France. Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Zaire (Congo), India and the U.S.A. especially in California for the production of volatile oil.

Eucalyptus requires plenty of water and is grown to dry marshy lands Volatile oil is present in glands in the mesophyll of leaves. In Eucalyptus species, besides cineole, piperitone and citronellal are present

Leaves contain 1 10 3 per cent volatile oil. The volatile oil is colourless or pale-yellow liquid. Odour is aromatic and camphoraceous. Taste is pungent, camphoraceous. spicy and cooling.


Chemical Constituents –

Eucalyptus oil contains 70 to 85 per cent cineole and terpene hydrocarbons, pinene and camphene and in small quantities butyric, valeric and caproic aldehydes having an unpleasant smells.

The percentage of cineole can be determined by the congealing point of an additive complex of cineole: cresol (3:2:1). The congealing point 42° corresponds to 70 per cent cineole. The congealing point of pure cineole is 52°.

Eucalyptus oil is sometimes obtained from other species and according to pharmacopoeial standards cineole is not less than 70% and oil must be free from a large amount of phellandrene.

Aliphatic aldehydes and hydrocarbons present in the oil have irritant properties, cause cough, and have undesirable action on the heart so oil is rectified to remove them and is used.

Read Also: Resources of Vegetable Oils | Biology Ideas | Difference Between Vegetable and Volatile Oils


Use –

  1. Eucalyptus oil is used as a flavouring agent, antiseptic, diuretic, diaphoretic and expectorant and in other respiratory diseases. It is used as an inhaler, in nasal drops and nasal ointment.
  2. Externally it is used as a counter-irritant in swelling and inflamination and as a massage in rheumatism and disease of the cold.
  3. The oil is used in perfumery.
  4. Mosquito and vermin repellent.
  5. As an ingredient of gemicidal and disinfecting preparations.
  6. As a deodorizing and arepticizing composition for use in theatres.
  7. It is an ingredient of Several ointments.