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by Cybele
It’s no secret I have a crush on orange oil. It smells amazing in home fragrance diffusers. It’s also one of my favourite oils for home cleaning products, because it contains a lot (sometimes up to 95%, according to the editors of Green Living Tips) of d-limonene a cleaning agent.
Essential oils aren’t cheap. On the other hand orange peels often end up in the garbage, so it’s nice to find a use for them and save the cost of buying essential oil. The only real cost here is the vodka and a cheap one will do the trick.
In the past, I have made a pretty potent lemon oil, using the infusion method, but I wanted to have a go at making an orange essential oil at home (without a still), as essential oils are believed to be more potent and pure. The result using the method below is not as pure as cold pressing, but it does mean you can do it at home easily.

Orange essential oil

How to make orange essential oil

IngredientsHow to make orange essential oil

Orange peels (as many as you have available) with as little of the white pith as possible
Glass jar with a tight fitting lid
Vodka (I didn’t use the fancy pants vodka in the picture, it’s just that the el cheapo one had an ugly bottle and I couldn’t bring myself to take a pretty picture of it) or undenatured ethyl alcohol (I have tried this, so it best to follow the instructions in this post) but not rubbing alcohol
Coffee filter or cheese cloth/muslin
Paper towel or cheese cloth/muslin

How to make orange essential oil

Dry the orange peels on a paper towel somewhere warm and out of direct sunlight until they are hard. This usually takes about two days, depending on the humidity (it’s faster if you tear the orange peels into smaller one-inch pieces.)
How to make orange essential oilCut the dried orange peels into smaller pieces with a sharp knife. Pop the diced peels into a glass jar. Warm the alcohol, by placing the bottle of vodka into a bowl filled with hot tap water. Pour the vodka into the jar until it covers the orange peel.
How to make orange essential oil
Screw on the lid and shake the jar. Shake it vigorously for a couple of minutes. Do this a few times a day for three or more days. The more you shake it and the longer you leave the peels in the vodka, the more oil will be extracted.
How to make orange essential oilStrain the peels into a bowl using a coffee filter or cheese cloth. Squeeze all the liquid into the bowl. Cover the dish with a kitchen paper towel or cheese cloth. Be careful not to let the towel fall into the liquid. Let it sit for a few days and when the alcohol has evaporated, what remains will be orange oil.Oil
Enjoy!
Cybele x
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About the Author

Blah Blah Magazine

Cybele Masterman (Bele) trained as a beauty therapist, aromatherapist and journalist. After working as all of the above has found herself on a quest for a beautiful and meaningful life that doesn't cost the earth. Follow on google: +blahblahmagazine twitter: @blahblahzine or Instagram: BlahBlahMagazine

58 Comments on "How to make orange essential oil"

  1. Annet 08/11/2013 at 12:15 am · Reply

    Love this!!!!! Also since citrus-time has begun yet again…
    I love citrus too… To eat/ drink/ in my food. But also in my cosmetics, synergies of oils, in my little oilevaprate-thingy….

    At this moment my peels go into a jar with vinigar, to make my own cleaning-spray (just let them soak a few weeks, sift and… spray). As soon this yar if full, ill go and make this!!!

    Oh and also… very pretty pictures! :)

  2. Blah Blah Magazine
    Blah Blah Magazine 09/11/2013 at 11:18 am · Reply

    Hi Annet, I’m so happy to hear others love citrus as much as I do. Orange and lemon are such uplifting fragrances. I can’t but help but smile. Not something I usually do when cleaning! Enjoy citrus season!

  3. Ann 12/11/2013 at 12:38 am · Reply

    Wouldn’t some of the more volatile components of the orange peel evaporate if you dry the peel (zest)? Is that an essential step?

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 12/11/2013 at 9:25 am · Reply

      It’s true that anything we do can destroy the particularly volatile compounds, so it’s a matter of trying to keep as many as possible. According to my Aromatherapy chemistry text book high temperatures are the biggest issue for volatile compounds and direct sunlight is not great either. So, you’ve brought up a good point that I should’ve clarified to air dry the peel somewhere warm, but out of direct sunlight.
      The drying is important to maximise the purity (not that this will be as pure as essential oils from a still), because drying in air will take a lot of the water out of the peel, therefore leaving a higher ratio of oil. I hope this helps x

  4. Marilyn Batey 12/11/2013 at 7:38 am · Reply

    How do you know when the alcohol has evaporated?

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 12/11/2013 at 9:13 am · Reply

      The smell will tell you when the alcohol has evaporated and I noticed that it evaporates a lot faster in warmer weather, so it’s worth leaving it in a warm spot while it evaporates. Enjoy!

  5. maggi g 12/11/2013 at 10:19 am · Reply

    I just have to try this recipe. thanks for the great info. im off to buy some oranges…..

  6. rick 12/11/2013 at 11:32 am · Reply

    and the resulting oil should be used in cleaning? not sure exactly what to clean or how?

  7. amit 22/11/2013 at 3:31 am · Reply

    What is alternate to alcohol or vodka for making orange oil

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 24/11/2013 at 12:58 pm · Reply

      Hi, this particular recipe needs an alcohol to extract the oil. However, you can make a very potent version of this lemon oil, using lots of orange peel. Hope this helps x

  8. Kristen Gonzalez 13/12/2013 at 10:27 am · Reply

    I was wondering if this oil could be used in making soaps/body scrub or in your bathwater? Also, could this apply to herbs as well or just citrus peel ?

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 13/12/2013 at 11:14 am · Reply

      I’m glad you asked about using this technique for herbs, because I wondered the same thing! So I did a little experimenting using this technique to make lavender oil, sadly it didn’t work very well. So, I don’t think it’s a great technique for herbs and flowers. It seems to break the plant down. I prefer the infused oil method for herbs and flowers.
      The reason I hesitate about recommending this method for body and beauty products is because I don’t know of a way to make sure there is absolutely no alcohol remaining. Alcohol can be drying for the skin and that’s why I use this method in this lemon oil post for skin products. I hope this helps x

  9. Peter 15/12/2013 at 4:22 pm · Reply

    Hi, as you have indicated, the oil infusion methods works for both lemons and oranges, but will the alcohol method also work for lemons?
    Also which of these two methods creates the purest form of essential oil for lemons?
    And for oranges?

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 15/12/2013 at 5:37 pm · Reply

      Yes, you’re absolutely correct you can use both the alcohol and infusion methods for both oranges and lemons. Technically, the alcohol method will create the purest essential oil for all citrus, outside of using a still, however it’s impossible to remove all traces of alcohol from the oil.
      This is why it’s important to consider what you’re using the oil for. When I make cosmetics I always use the infusion method and actually infuse the peel into the carrier (coconut, olive,etc.) oil I want to use in the product. However, the alcohol method is create for air fresheners, diffusers and cleaning products. I hope this helps.

  10. Peter 15/12/2013 at 8:27 pm · Reply

    Thanks for the clarification regarding the “alcohol” method vs the “infusion” method.
    Have you tried the “cold press” method for citrus?
    This title seems a bit of an anomaly to me as heat (although below 120F) is applied to help extract the oil.
    Is it worth trying?

  11. Blah Blah Magazine
    Blah Blah Magazine 15/12/2013 at 11:34 pm · Reply

    Hi Peter, I haven’t tried the cold press method, because I want to do some more research into the temperatures (I agree it seems quite the oxymoron!), but I’d love to hear if anyone else has tried it how they went?

  12. Cecilia 24/12/2013 at 5:09 am · Reply

    Does wine work as a substitute for Vodka? We just happen to run out of Vodka, but still have some wine at hand.

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 24/12/2013 at 7:50 am · Reply

      Unfortunately wine won’t work as it is not pure enough. Vodka is really the only regular alcohol that works because of its purity. It’s ideal to use the pure alcohol used by chemists but it’s not that convenient to buy. I hope this helps x

  13. Niteen 29/12/2013 at 4:37 pm · Reply

    Can i make bitter orange oil (citrus aurantium oil) using the same method ?

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 29/12/2013 at 8:14 pm · Reply

      Excellent question! I had to put my thinking cap on for this one and eventually came up with an answer: It depends! If you want to create an oil from the peel, then yes, this technique works really well. However, citrus aurantium oil is often called Neroli oil and it’s a bit misleading because Neroli oil is actually made from the bitter orange blossom and has a delicate floral fragrance. Unfortunately, this cannot be made using this technique and I’m yet to find an easy way to extract this beautiful perfume at home. I hope this helps x

  14. Niteen 31/12/2013 at 5:41 pm · Reply

    thanks for the reply. I hope you will find the way very soon. I will be waiting for your reply!

  15. Niteen 01/01/2014 at 7:55 pm · Reply

    Hi, I wanted to use bitter orange oil for application on skin. So can i make it using infusion method

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 01/01/2014 at 9:26 pm · Reply

      Hi, you could certainly use the peel in the infusion method. I am not sure what the properties are of the bitter orange peel and if it can be used on the skin. My trusty ‘Complete Guide to Aromatherapy’ doesn’t list the properties of the peel, only the flowers. It’s not sounding so ‘Complete’ ;) What are you planning to make?

  16. Niteen 03/01/2014 at 8:51 pm · Reply

    Hi, actually i read one blog, in which about natural whitening using ayurveda is written. In which they said that applying mixture of few drops of bergamia and aurantium oil mixed with 100 ml almond oil for one month on face will make the skin fair. I got bergamot oil, but i am unable to get aurantium oil !

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 05/01/2014 at 8:30 pm · Reply

      Hello, sorry for the delay. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with the oils and skin whitening treatments. If you wanted to make the aurantium oil you could infuse the peel in the sweet almond oil using the lemon oil method. The thing that slowed me down replying to this post is that I can’t recommend using citrus oils on the face, because they can cause the skin to be sensitive to the sun. So, if you do use this combination then it’d be best to only use the oils at night and wear sunscreen during the day. I’m sorry, I can’t be of more use!

  17. Niteen 05/01/2014 at 4:28 pm · Reply

    Please help me!

  18. Niteen 05/01/2014 at 9:09 pm · Reply

    Can i use bergamot oil ?

  19. Blah Blah Magazine
    Blah Blah Magazine 05/01/2014 at 10:56 pm · Reply

    Hello beautiful Niteen, I have to say that your skin colour is gorgeous and unfortunately, bergamot is a citrus as well and has the same photo sensitivity issues!

  20. Marisa 23/01/2014 at 12:29 am · Reply

    Can you use this technique with anything? Like vanilla and herbs?

  21. Denise 17/02/2014 at 12:08 am · Reply

    Hi. Cybele,

    Thanks a lot for these great ideas! Where I live we consume lemons on a daily basis and I have been racking my head for a nice science fair project involving reusing and recycling for my students. I’m going to use it at home as well!

  22. Laura 23/02/2014 at 9:12 am · Reply

    Thank you for sharing your recipe! I have some tangerine peels that I’d like to try this with, but was wondering if there’s anything else I could use aside from the vodka. Can rubbing alcohol be used? The only spirits I have at the moment are a cheap Scotch & a 99 Proof Apple Schnapps which is only about 50 % ALC./VOL.

  23. Blah Blah Magazine
    Blah Blah Magazine 23/02/2014 at 9:41 am · Reply

    I haven’t used rubbing alcohol but I believe it’s probably not a good idea, according to this post http://www.offthegridnews.com/2012/04/09/how-to-make-your-own-essential-oils-and-perfumes/.The other option is undenatured ethyl alcohol. The idea is to use a ‘pure’ alcohol so your lovely schnapps might get you in a sticky situation ;)
    I would love to hear how you go x

  24. rani 04/03/2014 at 12:56 am · Reply

    is that true, because I am
    making a research about that oil.

  25. Amaya 04/03/2014 at 6:04 am · Reply

    Hi can you use Rubbing Alcohol instead of vodka? Or is there another alternative?

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 04/03/2014 at 4:36 pm · Reply

      Hi, apparently you can use undenatured ethyl alcohol, but not rubbing alcohol. I am trying to ascertain why that is. I hope this helps!

  26. diana 05/03/2014 at 10:47 pm · Reply

    In getting orange oil can I use boiling method.

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 24/06/2014 at 4:17 pm · Reply

      Dear Diana, my apologies, somehow I missed your question. It’ probably too late, but the problem with boiling is that the high temperatures can destroy the more volatile aspects of the oils and can caramelise the oil. I hope this helps.

  27. Vick 22/04/2014 at 11:36 am · Reply

    Hi, would the essential oils made from this work in candle making?

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 22/04/2014 at 12:01 pm · Reply

      They should work well. I used this in some candles and I’m really happy. Next time I would probably increase the quantity of oil used as the fragrance isn’t as potent as commercial oils. I hope this helps. I’d love to hear how you go x

  28. Vicky 28/04/2014 at 9:49 pm · Reply

    I’ve already zested my oranges. Can use the zest in the same way? And would it have as much oil content as using strips of the peel? Which method is better?

    Also I was hoping to use it in a spray bottle to get the smell if chlorine out if my sins hair and skin after swim practice. Any thoughts?

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 28/04/2014 at 10:00 pm · Reply

      Don’t worry, it’s fine to use orange zest, at worst you may need to strain it twice. However, it’s not a great one for using on the skin as there will be some alcohol residue and that can be very drying, which could compound the dryness of chlorine. The other issue is that citrus oils can make the skin a bit more sensitive to the sun, so that may be a consideration. However, if you’re not staying in the sun, then a potent infused oil might be a good option like using orange instead of lemon in this post.

  29. Vicky 28/04/2014 at 9:57 pm · Reply

    Hi Peter, Vicky here again. What about putting some of the mixture in his shampoo or liquid soap, wonder if that would help with the smell. We’ve tried many shampoos and soaps and hr still has a lingering smell of chlorine.

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 28/04/2014 at 10:16 pm · Reply

      Apparently, peppermint, lavender and citrus are the best natural fragrances for masking smells and I’ve heard of some people eating an orange and rubbing the peel into the skin and hair when getting out of the pool.
      You’ve got me thinking. I’m actually trialling a couple of spray fragrances for skin, but the oils take several weeks for the fragrance to infuse, so I won’t know the results for a couple of weeks. Would he use a lotion? This is a peppermint foot cream recipe: http://blahblahmagazine.com.au/foot-cream-recipe/
      Blah Blah Magazine recently posted…Falling off the ceiling and how to make foaming cleanserMy Profile

  30. Vicky 01/05/2014 at 3:38 pm · Reply

    Hi Cybele,
    First of all, sorry for calling you Peter on the last note, don’t know what I was thinking, oops!
    Regarding the lotion, yes he would use it.
    And the reason I am looking for a pure form of orange oil, is because I noticed that if I ever get bleach on my hands and then peel an orange, the smell of the bleach is gone. It is not masked, for there is actually a chemical reaction that occurs which neutralizes the bleach.
    The thought has crossed my mind of rubbing an orange peel all over him and squirting it in his hair, but realistically I’m looking for an easier solution :-)
    I have three questions:
    First, is an essential orange oil the same thing as the oil from the orange rind? What is the difference?
    Second, what exactly comes out of the rind? I know it’s part oil, but obviously it hurts your eyes when it accidentally squirts into your eye. So what else is in it? And which component does the neutralizing?
    Third, how can I bottle it……and squirt it all over my stinky chlorine boy?
    Thanks Cybele!

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 01/05/2014 at 11:29 pm · Reply

      Hi Vicky,
      No worries, I quite like the name Peter. It sounds like you’ve made quite the discovery. Yes, pure essential orange oil is from the oil in the peel. Hence we use dried peel to maximise the oil extracted over the water soluble materials. I’m not exactly sure what’s causing this chemical reaction but my suspicion is dLimonene a powerful cleaning agent found in orange oil. It’s quite probable as Chlorine is a very volatile substance.
      I’m taking my boy swimming Saturday week and I have some bought orange essential oil that I use for skin preparations that I’ll mix with oil and apply at about 7% orange oil to base oil.
      The homemade essential oil if used carefully has the advantage that any remaining alcohol will help the oil disperse in water for a spray and act as a bit of a preservative, so could be mixed with some water and some oil like sweet almond to counteract the drying quality of the alcohol. The issue of photo sensitivity remains so it’s important to stay out of the sun once the orange oil has been applied. I did an orange hand cream but that might be a bit heavy for using in the hair. I’m really excited about your discovery. I’ll go away and do some research into what’s behind this chemical reaction and get back to you about how I go with my son. Then we can look into recipes for the spray. I hope this helps.
      Bele x

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 21/05/2014 at 3:24 pm · Reply

      Hi Vicky,
      I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t forgotten about you! It’s just that for various reasons (illness, triathlons, etc) we still haven’t made it to the swimming pool to test the theory, but I’ll let you know when I do.
      Bele x

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 24/06/2014 at 4:20 pm · Reply

      Hi Vicky,
      I hope it’s not too late, but I’ve just tried doing an orange oil version of this recipe I did for another blog and it has worked well. Basically, replacing the lemon oil for orange. You don’t have to use the sandalwood or lavender either, just increase the orange accordingly.
      http://www.henryhappened.com/diy-body-spray.html

  31. Kayla 19/06/2014 at 2:58 pm · Reply

    Could you use a dehydrator to dry out the orange peels?

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 19/06/2014 at 3:32 pm · Reply

      Funny you should ask! I’ve just been given a dehydrator and orange peels were one of the first things. And, yes, it worked a treat x

  32. Kristel Jusi 23/06/2014 at 9:53 pm · Reply

    Hi, would the essential oils made from this work in perfume making?

    • Blah Blah Magazine
      Blah Blah Magazine 24/06/2014 at 1:56 pm · Reply

      Technically you could, you may need to adjust the alcohol used in the perfume recipe because there’s alcohol residue with this and the amount of orange oil used as this oil is not as potent smelling as professionally stilled essential oil. I hope this helps x

      • Kristel Jusi 24/06/2014 at 4:13 pm · Reply

        How about making Dragon Fruit Essential Oils, do you have a recipe?
        Kristel Jusi recently posted…How to cope with failureMy Profile

        • Blah Blah Magazine
          Blah Blah Magazine 24/06/2014 at 4:23 pm · Reply

          Wow that sounds amazing! it’d make an incredible fragrance. Unfortunately, I don’t. Do you happen to know if the essential oil is extracted from the flower? Extracting the oil from flowers is a very delicate operation, but doable.

  33. Glynis 26/06/2014 at 10:38 pm · Reply

    Could you separate by freezing (the vodka stays liquid and at the top – pour off and reuse it)? I ask because you can do this when making peppermint oil.
    Glynis recently posted…Feb 12, Collectables, antiques and ornaments for saleMy Profile

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