Citrus Essential Oils

Citrus essential oils have refreshing and mood-lifting effects. They are generally pressed from the peel which is the waste product of fruit processing industry. These essential oils are popular for their scent and the mood they create, but citrus essential oils also contain
many phytochemical compounds which have excellent antimicrobial properties against bacteria and fungi.

Five Citrus Essential Oils for Health and Well Being

citrus essential oils

1Sweet Orange Essential Oil

Sweet orange essential oil has the distinct smell and taste of oranges due to colorless liquid hydrocarbon, d-limonene which makes up more than 90 percent of the oil. Limonene is a common ingredient in many commercial household cleansers. Since sweet orange oil has such a strong and pleasurable scent along with its high levels of limonene, it is often used as an eco-friendly substitute for cleaning solvents.

To extract the essential oil, the peel is cold pressed by piercing the tiny pouches in the rind where the oil sits.

Sweet orange oil is used in a variety of products, including household air fresheners, cleaning supplies and perfumes to massage oils, bath treatments, skin creams and even some food and drinks. Its uplifting aroma has been used to help relieve depression and upset stomachs.

When used in vapor therapy or added to massage oils and bath products, sweet orange oil assists in eliminating body toxins, reducing stress, boosting the immune system and relieving symptoms of cold and flu. As an ingredient in skin creams, it improves skin conditions such as acne and dermatitis; moisturizes and relieves dryness and irritation; keeps skin youthful by aiding in the formation of collagen, and detoxifies congested skin.

Sweet orange oil blends well with many natural spices and oils, including black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, frankincense, bergamot, neroli, sandalwood, and lavender.

Sweet orange oil is non-toxic, non-sensitizing, non-irritating, and non-phototoxic. However, as with any new product, always test a small amount for skin sensitivity or allergic reaction.

2Mandarin Essential Oil

Mandarin oil comes from small evergreen trees with glossy leaves, fragrant flowers, and orange fruit. The trees grow up to 20 feet tall in tropical and subtropical areas. The essential oil is a yellow-orange oil that is cold pressed and expressed from the peel of the almost ripe fruit.

The scent is described as tangy, delicate, sweet, floral citrus top notes with deep, warm undertones. It is an uplifting, cheering and soothing oil. Mandarin essential oil is commonly used in skin healing and rejuvenation formulas to fight infections and help tone the skin.


Its properties increase circulation to the skin, reduce fluid retention and thus, can help prevent the onset of stretch marks. Psychologically, mandarin is strengthening and helps to relieve stress, calm an overactive mind, and promote restful sleep. It is also used to help aid digestion.

Mandarin oil blends well with other citrus and spicy oils, as well as neroli, lavender, ylang ylang, geranium, and cypress.

Mandarin oil is non-toxic and non-sensitizing; however, as a precaution always test a small amount for skin sensitivity or allergic reaction. Mandarin oil is not considered to be phototoxic.

3Lemon Essential Oil

The lemon tree is a small, evergreen tree native to Asia. It has oval shaped leaves, fragrant flowers, and fruit that turn from green to yellow as they ripen. The tree grows fruit year round.

Lemon essential oil is cold pressed from the peel. Approximately 1,400 lemons yield 1 pound of lemon essential oil. The oil has a fresh, light aroma that is sweet,  sharp, and reminiscent of fresh lemons.

Lemon oil is used in a variety of products including household air fresheners, cleaning supplies, and body care products as well as food and drinks. Lemon oil is widely regarded for its ability to lift the spirits and enhance the mood. It is reputed to aid in concentration and clear a confused mind while increasing memory.

Lemon oil’s purifying and cleansing properties make it popular in skin care. It brightens the complexion and is since it has antiseptic properties, it is good for oily skin and acne. Some swear by lemon oil’s effectiveness in removing warts.

Lemon oil is made up of almost 70% d-limonene, which is a colorless, liquid hydrocarbon. Limonene is a common ingredient in many commercial cleansers. Because lemon oil has a strong and pleasant scent along with its high levels of limonene, it is often used as an eco-friendly substitute for harsh cleaning solvents. Lemon oil can deodorize, clean, sanitize, bleach and disinfect naturally. Lemon oil has also been used as a nontoxic insecticide.

Lemon oil is reputed to blend well with almost anything, but especially other citrus oils and floral oils. Herbal scents such as peppermint, tea tree, and thyme blend well with lemon oil too. It is sometimes suggested that if an essential oil blend doesn’t smell quite right, then add a few drops of lemon – that will usually ‘fix’ the blend.

Lemon oil may cause skin irritation or skin sensitivity. It can also have a temporary bleaching effect on the skin, so do not use on sensitive skin. With any new product, always test a small amount for skin sensitivity or allergic reaction. Do not use any essential oils undiluted on the skin.

Lemon oil may cause photosensitivity, which means it makes the skin sensitive to sunlight. Exposure to sunlight or tanning beds after using products containing phototoxic ingredients can lead to irritation. It is best to avoid exposure to strong sunlight or tanning bed rays for 24 hours after using products containing this essential oil.

4Bergamot Essential Oil

Bergamot is named after the city of Bergamo, Italy where most of its trade originated. The tree can grow up to 13 feet tall and bears small, inedible (they are sour and bitter) citrus fruit. Bergamot essential oil is expressed from the peel of the almost-ripe fruit. It takes about one hundred pieces of fruit to make 3 ounces of essential oil.

Bergamot has sweet, lemony top notes with warm, floral and spicy undertones.

Bergamot essential oil is called a ‘sunny’ essential oil and may help to reduce anxiety, depression, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The oil is said to be cheering, calming and uplifting. Bergamot oil is also the go-to essential oil for treating urinary tract infections because it has antiseptic properties. Some also use it to regulate appetite or in facial creams to help with oily skin and acne.


Bergamot oil blends well with other florals and citruses. Some may recognize the scent as it is used in Earl Grey Tea.

Do not use this oil if you have very sensitive skin. As with any new product, always test a small amount for skin sensitivity or allergic reaction. Do not use any essential oils undiluted on the skin.

Bergamot oil may cause photosensitivity, which means it makes the skin sensitive to sunlight. Exposure to sunlight or tanning beds after using products containing phototoxic ingredients can lead to irritation. It is best to avoid exposure to strong sunlight or tanning bed rays for 24 hours after using products containing this essential oil.

5Bitter Orange Essential Oil

The bitter orange tree is an evergreen tree native to southern China and Northeastern India. It grows up to 30 feet high with white blossoms. It has many similarities to the sweet orange tree, but the leaves of the bitter orange tree are broader and are shaped like a heart. Bitter orange fruit is also smaller than the sweet orange fruits.

The tree is well recognized for its resistance to disease and is often used as grafting stock for other citrus trees. Bitter orange essential oil is cold pressed from the peels of the fruit, but the bitter orange tree also produces petitgrain and neroli essential oils from leaves, twigs, and blossoms, respectively.

Bitter orange essential oil has a sharp, refreshing citrus aroma. It is a cross between sweet orange and tart grapefruit. The name refers to the bitter taste of the fruit, not the scent of the essential oil.

Bitter orange essential oil has very similar properties to sweet orange essential oil. Bitter orange can be used in formulas created for acne ridden, dry and/or mature skin. Its antibacterial, antiseptic, and antifungal properties help detoxify and purify. Psychologically, bitter orange helps to calm and soothe the psyche. It is a cheery and uplifting oil that can be used for stress and anxiety as it clears the mind and helps the user regain focus.

Bitter orange oil blends well with other citrus essential oils as well as spicy oils such as black pepper, cinnamon, and clove. Lavender, myrrh, and sandalwood also mix well with it. The oil is a good stand-in for a blend if you would like to avoid the sweetness found in sweet orange oil.

Bitter orange essential oil is considered phototoxic and is for external use only. Bitter orange oil may cause photosensitivity, which means it makes the skin sensitive to sunlight. Exposure to sunlight or tanning beds after using products containing phototoxic ingredients can lead to irritation. It is best to avoid exposure to strong sunlight or tanning bed rays for 24 hours after using products containing this essential oil.

One Last Thing About Citrus Essential Oils

As concern grows over the use of synthetic preservatives, there is a growing interest in shifting to natural antimicrobial agents. Continuing research shows that plant-based sources can fill the need in manufacturing and industrial uses. At the consumer level, there are already many tried and true uses of citrus essential oils that can replace synthetic products today.


References
Potential antimicrobial uses of essential oils in food: is citrus the answer?

Antifungal activity of lemon (Citrus lemon L.), mandarin (Citrus reticulata L.), grapefruit (Citrus paradisi L.) and orange (Citrus sinensis L.) essential oils

5 COMMENTS

  1. Very interesting! I never knew essential oils, especially these ones, had so many benefits! I am hoping that I can buy the orange essential oils, both to help alleviate my moods when I get depressed and reduce stress.

  2. These are all fabulous essential oils. Sweet orange was one of the first essential oils I ever used and I used it to clean. I’ll never go back to chemical cleaners again. Thanks for going into such great detail about all these citrus oils.

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