Clove Oil

As low as $16.50
In stock
Only %1 left

Clove Oil from the leaf of the plant by steam distillation. Use to prevent skin forming on oil paint. Add to egg tempera, emulsions and glues to prevent mold and bacteria. Clove oil is composed primarily of eugenol. Learn more about its use in painting.

Clove oil is a pale yellow to dark brown oil derived from the clove tree cultivated in the Moluccas or Spice Islands (now Maluka of Indonesia), Madagascar, Zanzibar, and the Philippines. The principal component of clove oil is eugenol. It is very slightly soluble in water and soluble in organic solvents. It has a spicy aroma and the taste of cloves. It is used in perfumes, flavorings, essential oils, and dentistry (as a local antiseptic and analgesic).

Our clove oil is obtained by redistillation of crude clove leaf oil obtained initially by steam distillation of the dried leaves from cultivated non-GMO clove trees. The oil is pure and natural, and unadulterated. Raw materials and processed oil were never irradiated. The oil was never tested on animals. Analysis of the clove oil shows that the main component of the oil is eugenol, with a concentration of 85%. Eugenol is a natural antioxidant that prevents or slows the rate of oxidation of vegetable oils.

Uses in Painting

Painters use clove oil to slow the drying time of oil paints substantially. Although some artists recommend adding a drop of clove oil per inch of paint squeezed from the tube, we do not recommend its use in this manner. Although some claim that it darkens paint, using clove oil as a drying retarder in oil paint is greatly discouraged as its addition tends to weaken the dried paint film substantially. One way to effectively use clove oil to preserve oil paint fresh on the palette is to add a few drops to a cotton ball and place the palette along with the cotton ball containing the clove oil in a sealable container, such as a Sta-Wet palette.

A drop or two of clove oil can also suppress the odor of turpentine, and even this small amount can give a pleasant odor.

Clove oil is also used as a preservative in water-based painting mediums, such as casein, egg tempera, glue (distemper), and watercolor. Add a drop to 100 ml (3.3 ounces) of the paint medium, for example, to preserve the paint.

Origin and History

The Latin word clavus means nail shaped, which refers to the bud of the clove tree since the shaft and head of the clove bud resembles a nail. The clove tree (Syzgium aromaticum or Eugenia caryophyllata) is a tropical evergreen tree believed to be indigenous to the Moluccas. The people of the Moluccas used to plant a clove tree to celebrate the birth of a child and would wear a necklace of cloves to protect them from evil spirits and illness. As early as 200 BCE, envoys from Java to the Han-dynasty court of China brought cloves with them to China. The Chinese used it to relieve toothaches and as a breath freshener, especially during audiences with the emperor. Clove was much used by the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese for its medicinal value. Clove has antiseptic properties and was used to prevent contagious diseases like the Plague. During the Middle Ages, cloves were used in Europe to preserve, flavor, and garnish food. From the 8th century, cloves became increasingly popular in Europe, and along with nutmeg, the importation of this coveted spice helped the enterprising Venetians become extraordinarily wealthy. The lure of cloves and nutmeg attracted the Portuguese to the Spice Islands in 1514; they were followed by the Dutch in 1605, who retained control over the trade until late in the 18th century, at which time the exotic spices of the Moluccas were starting to be grown elsewhere in the world. Clove cultivation was almost entirely confined to Indonesia. In the early 17th century, the Dutch eradicated cloves on all islands except Amboina and Ternate to create scarcity and sustain high prices. In the latter half of the 18th century, the French smuggled cloves from the East Indies to Indian Ocean islands and the New World, breaking the Dutch monopoly.

Cloves were among the most precious items in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries and were worth more than their weight in gold. An illustration of their value can be seen in Magellan’s fateful circumnavigation of the world (1519–1522), which started with five ships and over 250 men. Although only one ship and 18 men returned to Spain, its cargo of about 50 tons of cloves and nutmeg was considered to have made the expedition a financial success.

Today, cloves are still used as a spice in perfumes, mulled wines and liqueurs, aromatherapy, medicinal and dental products, and stuck in an orange as pomade, an insect repellant.


Clove products can be divided into three: clove buds used whole and as a ground spice and are also the raw material for clove bud oil and oleoresin; clove stem oil; and clove leaf oil, used principally as a source of eugenol. Essential oils from the clove tree are divided into bud, leaf, and stem oils. Cloves contain 14 to 20 percent essential oil, the principal component of which is the aromatic oil eugenol (70-90%). Still, odor and flavor differ significantly due to the varying proportions of minor and trace components.

Clove is a small, reddish-brown flower bud of the tropical evergreen tree Syzygium aromaticum of the family Myrtaceae (also Caryophyllus aromaticus, Eugenia caryophyllata, E. aromatica) and is believed to be indigenous to the Moluccas. The clove tree grows to about 8 to 12 meters in height. Its gland-dotted leaves are small, simple, and opposite. The trees are usually propagated from seeds that are planted in shaded areas. Flowering begins about the fifth year; a tree may yield up to 75 pounds (34 kg) of dried buds annually. Just before the flowers open, the rose-peach buds are hand-picked in late summer and again in winter and then sun-dried, turning a deep red-brown. Cloves vary in length from about 1/2 to 3/4 inches (13 to 19 mm). Although native to southeast Asia, it is cultivated worldwide, especially in the Molucca Islands, Madagascar, the Philippines, Zanzibar, and Mauritius, as well as in Ternate, Tidore, and a couple of other of the northern Spice Islands in Indonesia. The island of Zanzibar, part of Tanzania, is the world’s largest producer of cloves. Madagascar and Indonesia are smaller producers. The major oil-producing countries are Madagascar and Indonesia.


Cloves are intensely pungent owing to eugenol, which is extracted by steam distillation to yield clove oil. The leaf oil contains 12% caryophyllene and 90% eugenol as significant components. Unrectified Madagascan oil has a sharp, slightly crude medicinal (eugenol), often phenolic aroma without any of the sweet smoothness of the rectified material. Clove leaf oil is frequently refined and redistilled to remove the constituents that produce the crude odor and discoloration. The process of steam distillation begins when the distiller inserts the chosen plant material, or charge, into a chamber. The plant material is supported on a perforated grid. The water level in the chamber is below the grid, and at low pressure, wet steam rises through the plant material. The most important aspect of this method is that the steam is maintained at a relatively low temperature and pressure. As the steam passes through the plant material, it ruptures the plant’s oil-bearing sacs and cavities and liberates its essence, which is carried away into the steam. The steam and essential oil then pass out of the chamber and through a coiled tube surrounded by cold water. Here the steam is cooled, and the condensated water and essential oil flow into a collection vessel. Since the essential oil is insoluble in water, it forms a layer above it, facilitating separation. Small quantities of odorous principles also remain in the water, forming fragrant water called a hydrolate.

Our clove oil is derived from a natural source, redistilled from crude clove oil extracted from the dried leaves of Eugenia caryophyllata, using steam distillation and redistilled for purity.

Source:Eugenia caryophyllata
Synonyms:Clove leaf oil, eugenol
Chemical Name:Eugenol (principal ingredient)
Chemical Formula:CH2CH2CH2C6H3(OCH3)OH
Appearance:Clear, pale yellow
Odor:Spicy, phenolic, and sweet
Refractive Index:1.5300–1.5380 @ 20 °C
Specific gravity:1.0460 @ 25 °C 
Shelf Life:Four years


Clove oil is a very potent essential oil and should be used carefully. Clove oil can cause dermatitis and irritate skin and mucus membranes.


Keep tightly closed in a cool, dry place away from direct light. Shelf life is about four years when stored properly. Clove oil will darken during storage, which is a typical process.

More Information
BrandRublev Colours
VendorNatural Pigments
Processing TimeUsually ships the next business day.

Here’s what else artists recommend

Here are items you recently viewed during your visit of Natural Pigments Recently Viewed
No recently views items
Clear All
Clove Oil
Copyright © 2024-present Natural Pigments, Inc. All rights reserved.