Ask Difference

Volatile Oil vs. Fixed Oil — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on November 20, 2023
Volatile oils evaporate upon exposure to air, often aromatic, while fixed oils don't evaporate and are primarily fatty in nature.
Volatile Oil vs. Fixed Oil — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Volatile Oil and Fixed Oil


Key Differences

Volatile Oil and Fixed Oil differ fundamentally in their properties and applications. Volatile Oils are so named because they easily evaporate at room temperature and typically have a strong aroma. In contrast, Fixed Oils are stable, do not evaporate, and are derived from the fatty portions of plants.
When you think of Volatile Oils, think of essential oils like eucalyptus or lavender oil. These oils are often used in aromatherapy and for their therapeutic properties. On the flip side, Fixed Oils such as olive oil or almond oil are used for cooking, skincare, and are rich in fatty acids.
Volatile Oils are generally obtained through processes like steam distillation from various plant parts. These oils have low molecular weight compounds, leading them to evaporate easily. Fixed Oils, however, are extracted mainly from seeds or nuts and primarily contain lipids.
In the cosmetic and therapeutic world, Volatile Oils are often used for their scent and potential therapeutic properties. Fixed Oils, owing to their non-volatile nature, are commonly used as carriers for volatile oils or as moisturizing agents in skincare products.
It's crucial for users to understand the difference. While Volatile Oils can be very potent and are often used in small quantities, Fixed Oils are milder and can be used more liberally, for instance, as massage oils or in cooking.

Comparison Chart


Easily evaporates, aromatic.
Stable, non-volatile, fatty.


Derived from various plant parts.
Extracted mainly from seeds or nuts.


Aromatherapy, therapeutic properties.
Cooking, skincare, carriers for volatile oils.

Extraction Method

Steam distillation, cold pressing.
Cold pressing, solvent extraction.

Molecular Weight

Low molecular weight compounds.
High molecular weight, primarily lipids.

Compare with Definitions

Volatile Oil

Used for aromatherapy and therapeutic properties.
Many people believe Volatile Oil from eucalyptus can help with respiratory issues.

Fixed Oil

Derived mostly from seeds or nuts.
Sunflower Fixed Oil is extracted from sunflower seeds.

Volatile Oil

Obtained mainly through steam distillation.
The Volatile Oil of rose petals is carefully extracted to preserve its aroma.

Fixed Oil

Non-volatile and often used liberally.
Fixed Oils like almond oil are great for massages.

Volatile Oil

Essential oils derived from plants.
The Volatile Oil from lavender is known for its calming properties.

Fixed Oil

Used in cooking, skincare, and as carriers.
I use coconut Fixed Oil both for cooking and as a moisturizer.

Volatile Oil

Evaporates easily upon exposure to air.
The fragrance of the Volatile Oil quickly filled the room.

Fixed Oil

Primarily composed of fatty acids.
Flaxseed Fixed Oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Volatile Oil

Often characterized by a strong aroma.
A drop of Volatile Oil can change the scent of an entire lotion.

Fixed Oil

Oils that don't evaporate on exposure to air.
Olive Fixed Oil remains stable in the bottle for a long time.

Common Curiosities

Do Fixed Oils expire?

Yes, they can go rancid over time. It's best to store them in cool, dark places and check expiry dates.

Can Fixed Oils be used for frying?

Yes, many Fixed Oils like canola or sunflower oil are suitable for frying.

Are all Volatile Oils safe for direct skin application?

No, some can be irritating; often they're diluted with a Fixed Oil before application.

Are Volatile Oils the same as essential oils?

Yes, volatile oils are often referred to as essential oils.

Is coconut oil a Volatile Oil?

No, it's a Fixed Oil and doesn't evaporate easily.

How long can I store Volatile Oils?

Typically, they should be used within 1-3 years, but always check for any changes in aroma or appearance.

Why are Volatile Oils used in perfumes?

Due to their strong aroma and ability to evaporate, releasing the scent.

Can Volatile Oils be ingested?

Not all. Some might be toxic when ingested, always consult a professional.

Are there therapeutic benefits to Fixed Oils?

Yes, oils like olive and almond Fixed Oils have skin-nourishing properties.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger

Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms