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What is Orange Oil?

Mary McMahon
Updated Feb 07, 2024
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Orange oil is an essential oil extracted from the rind of the orange, a domesticated fruit which has been under cultivation by various human communities for thousands of years. The orange is believed to have originated in China, and it spread rapidly across Asia and into other regions of the world with traders who were interested in this aromatic, flavorful, juicy fruit.

Oil is naturally abundant in the rind of the orange fruit. Many people who have peeled an orange have noted the strong citrus aroma which fills the air when the rind has been broken; this smell is the result of the orange oil which is released from the rind. Some people also use this oil in a crude way when they save orange peels around the house to freshen up the air, allowing the peels to slowly dry out over time and release their aromatic oils in the process.

Cold pressed orange oil is made by squeezing orange rinds to express the oil, and is usually done at room temperature, not necessarily in “cold” temperatures. It is also possible to access orange essential oil through a steam distillation process. Steam distillation extracts more oil, but can tend to make the oil bitter, and this may not be acceptable for some applications.

One traditional use of orange oil is as a solvent. It is often included in products like furniture cleaners because it can remove dirt without damaging, and it helps to condition the wood in the process. This essential oil is also sometimes blended into natural cleaning products. It is believed to have insecticidal properties as well, and can be used to condition furniture to help it resist insect invasions.

In aromatherapy, orange is believed to have a cheering and calming effect. Orange oil can be blended with other essential oils, and some people who practice aromatherapy like to work with sweet orange oil, a high grade essential oil product made specifically from sweet oranges. This oil may be utilized as an anti-inflammatory, and can be administered to help people with digestive problems. When it is used in medical treatment, people should confirm that the oil is safe for consumption, and they should take note of whether or not it is diluted. Pure orange oil can irritate the skin and mouth, and may contribute to the development of photosensitivity, which can harm the skin.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By tanner182 — On Jul 09, 2011

@w00dchuck41 - I just started using orange oil as a cleaner -- and you're right, it works like a charm. I recently had a sugar ant infestation (the little tiny black ones) and I sprayed their nest with orange oil. I also read that it works to chase off ants. It did -- they were gone within hours!

I really like orange oil now since it isn't toxic like most cleaners and anti-pest sprays. I hate having all those chemicals floating around afterward, so I'll stick to more natural alternatives like citrus.

Thanks for the cleaning tip!

By w00dchuck41 — On Jul 09, 2011

I use orange oil for cleaning. As a parent, it also makes a great secret weapon! Orange oil is so strong that it removes crayon marks off of pretty much anything. I also use it to clean my stove and the rest of my kitchen -- instead of whatever I was cooking last night, the air smells like fresh oranges! Awesome stuff.

If anyone else uses it to clean, just remember to wear cleaning gloves. I dilute my orange oil a lot. It most certainly irritates skin undiluted. I just put about 7 drops of orange oil in a pint jar -- shake it and pop it in a spray bottle. I have to shake it every time I use it, but it works like a charm.

By Jacques6 — On Jul 08, 2011

@Almita - I buy orange oil all of the time -- but I've never tried making my own, I'll have to try that. Of course, I think actual orange oil extract is probably stronger than the orange peels because it's from concentrate. I'll have to see how they compare.

I don't really like to mix orange with anything else. It makes a nice summer scent by itself, even though plain peppermint is good for relaxing. Eucalyptus is just too strong of a smell for me! It reminds me of being sick because it's in a lot of cold-treating teas. I'll stick with orange for now.

By Almita — On Jul 07, 2011

Boiling fresh orange peels has a similar effect -- the scent is very soothing after a long day. It makes a sort of orange peel oil in the pan too, which can be reheated later.

I like to combine orange with peppermint and eucalyptus oils. It makes a sort of sweet, minty fresh scent in the air. Since I try to eat an orange every morning -- it's a nice way to not let the peels go to waste.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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