Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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essential oil

A naturally occurring volatile liquid, formed in various parts of plant life, principally in the leaves, flowers, or fruit. The main constituents are the terpines, i.e., hydrocarbons which generally have the empirical formula C 10 H 16 , and their derivatives. They also contain alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ketones, as well as compounds containing nitrogen and sulfur. Essential oils are volatile in steam, have characteristic odors, and leave no oily marks on paper. They are virtually insoluble in water but are soluble in alcohol and ether. Many are susceptible to oxidation in the presence of air or oxygen. They are obtained by steam distillation or by extraction.

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