What are the Different Types of Citrus Essential Oil?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Citrus essential oil is often part of clean, uplifting scents that are used all year round, but are quite popular in the summer months. Citrus essential oil can be extracted from nearly any citrus fruit, but most commonly comes from the bergamot orange. Other types of citrus essential oil are made from oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and tangerines.

Lemons.
Lemons.

In addition to being used to scent Lady Grey tea and Earl Grey tea, the essential oil that is extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange has been used in fragrance blends for centuries. It is still quite common today and is used in perfumes, lotions, and balms. Citrus essential oil from bergamot oranges also is used for products to scent the home such as diffusers and candles.

A bergamot orange, which is often used to make essential oil.
A bergamot orange, which is often used to make essential oil.

Some of these types of citrus essential oil also have subtypes. For example, there are a number of kinds of citrus essential oil that are made from oranges. One is a distinct citrus essential oil that comes from mandarin oranges. In addition to the list of oils from the orange family, there are sweet orange essential oil and bitter orange essential oil.

Oranges, which can be used to make citrus essential oil.
Oranges, which can be used to make citrus essential oil.

Furthermore, neroli oil comes from the distillation of the blossoms of an orange tree. Neroli oil is the most expensive of all of the essential oils that come from the citrus family. Petitgrain essential oil is also a citrus essential oil that comes from the orange tree. It is made from a distillation of the leaves of the orange tree. Sometimes twigs and even branches are added into the mixture that is used for distillation.

A jar of lotion containing citrus essential oil.
A jar of lotion containing citrus essential oil.

Citrus essential oil that comes from grapefruits, limes, and lemons are more straightforward and do not contain as many subcategories as the family of essential oils that come from oranges. Also, there is not a wide range of prices as there is with the oils that come from oranges. Citrus essential oil that comes from grapefruits, limes, and lemons can usually be purchased for less than $10 USD (US Dollars) for one ounce (about 30 milliliters). Sweet orange oil and bitter orange oil are comparable in price to the oils that come from the other citrus fruits listed above. Neroli oil, on the other hand, can easily be three times as expensive.

Tangerines can be used to make a citrus essential oil.
Tangerines can be used to make a citrus essential oil.

When using any kind of citrus essential oil, it is important to remember that these oils can create photosensitivity in the skin. This means that skin that has been exposed to the oil — or a product containing the oil — should be shielded from direct sunlight. If the oil is significantly diluted, this is less of a concern.

Citrus essential oils are known for their uplifting scent.
Citrus essential oils are known for their uplifting scent.
Essential oil made from limes are relatively inexpensive.
Essential oil made from limes are relatively inexpensive.
A concentrated citrus-based essential oil can be with fresh limes.
A concentrated citrus-based essential oil can be with fresh limes.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments

serenesurface

@bear78-- Have you tried bergamot? It's very nice. Citrusy and floral at the same time.

I also like citrus blends. I have one that's a combination of lemon, mandarin, orange and blood orange essential oils. It's really the ultimate citrus essential oil. I love using it in my diffuser as an air refreshener. It's supposed to clean the air and strengthen the immune system. I believe it does.

discographer

@bear78-- Grapefruit essential oil is lovely. I just bought a bottle. I was skeptical at first. I wanted the same scent that occurs when I just cut into a fresh grapefruit but I doubted that this could be possible with an essential oil. I was wrong. The essential oil really does smell like a freshly cut grapefruit.

If you are diluting it with other ingredients, it will work great. When you first open the bottle, it might seem a little too potent or strong. But don't worry, once it's diluted, it smells perfect. It's a very beneficial oil too.

bear78

I've been using lemon essential oil for a while now for lots of different things. I use it to make homemade soap, or add it to my shampoo for a nice refreshing scent. It basically works great for all bath products like bath salts, body scrubs, etc. But I do want to try something different now. I hadn't thought of grapefruit essential oil before, that could be great! Thanks for the recommendations.

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