Part 2: Sweet Orange
The second essential oil I would recommend for your essential oil tool kit is Sweet Orange. The botanical name is Citrus sinensis. You could choose any citrus oil (lemon, lime, pink grapefruit, mandarin or tangerine to name a few), but I choose sweet orange for several reasons. First of all, it’s a beautiful, refreshing and juicy sweet scent that most people find very pleasant, secondly, it’s safe for children, adults and elderly and third, in my experience, it is the least costly of the citrus oils.
Why choose Sweet Orange Oil?
- pleasing aroma
- safe for children and adults
Sweet orange doesn’t grow wild anywhere in the world. Scientists believe it is the natural hybrid result of a pummelo and the mandarin. It is believed to have originated from somewhere between the South-West of China and the Himalayas. Eventually distributed along trade routes, sweet orange trees are now found in many parts of the world, and it is the most commonly grown tree fruit.
Orange essential oil is most commonly extracted from the orange peel using a method called cold pressing. This process may involve grinding, chopping or puncturing the orange peel in order to access the pouches of essential oils contained within the cells before pressing. This is a common extraction method for citrus essential oils as heat processing can easily destroy the oil’s antioxidants and active ingredients. You may find steam distilled as an extraction method for citrus oils as well.
Uses for Sweet Orange Essentail Oil:
- Deodorizing – eliminates odors while leaving a fresh, energizing scent
- Sedative and relaxing while also increasing alertness
- Reduces anxiety
- Improves digestion, relieve cramps and constipation
- Relieve nasal irritation from seasonal allergies
- Disinfects – useful to add to laundry, dishwasher or mop water
- Can be helpful for eczema sufferers when applied topically
- Reduce age/dark spots on the skin
- Boost collagen production in the skin
- Treat acne by eliminating bacteria, reducing inflammation, pain and swelling.
- Enhance circulation
- Stimulates the bladder and lymphatic system
- Anti-inflammatory – use on swollen joints, even ankles.
- Stimulate immune system
Cautions When Using Sweet Orange Essential Oil
Citrus oils tend to have phototoxic properties. This means that when applied to your skin, topically, citrus essential oils can increase the effects of exposure to UV radiation. This can cause extremely unpleasant skin irritation including blisters, burns, redness and changes in skin pigmentation. This reaction may occur anywhere from 1-24 hours after sun exposure. To prevent this happening it is recommended that if applied topically a person should avoid spending prolonged periods in the sun for 72 hours.
However, there is research that suggests some citrus oils are NOT phototoxic. Cold pressed oils tend to contain more phototoxic constituents than their steam distilled counterparts. Some cold pressed citruses are highly phototoxic (bergamot or lime), while others are relatively safe (sweet orange or mandarin). If you blended lime and sweet orange for example your risk would not be lessened.
The following citrus essential oils are considered non-phototoxic or negligible risk:
- FCF or bergapten-free bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
- Steam distilled lime (Citrus aurantifolia)
- Steam distilled lemon (Citrus limon)
- Steam distilled grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
- Mandarin or Tangerine ( Citrus reticulata)
- Neroli – Orange blossom (Citrus x aurantium)
- Petitgrain bigarade – Orange leaf (Citrus x aurantium)
- Sweet or Blood Orange (Citrus sinensis)
- Yuzu (Citrus junos)
I still recommend that you err on the side of caution and use good judgment if you plan on using citrus oils topically before sun exposure. ALWAYS ensure your essential oil is diluted with a carrier oil if applying topically. A general rule of thumb is 4 drops of citrus essential oil to 30 mL of carrier oil (Tisserand & Young, 2014).
How to incorporate sweet orange oil into your everyday life:
- Diffuse it or inhale it – this is an excellent way to avoid any phototoxicity concerns and still reap the benefits. Reduces anxiety, sadness, anger and other negative moods. Diminish unpleasant scenes and freshen the air. Stimulate the immune system and eliminate airborne pathogens. Sedative and aphrodisiac. Enhances cognitive function and memories.
- To use topically, dilute as above and massage over sore muscles, swollen joints, abdomen for digestion.
- It is often advised to use orange as part of your nighttime skincare routine to reduce the risk of phototoxicity. Dilute 1 drop of essential oil in 1.5 tsp of carrier oil such as coconut, macadamia or jojoba and massage a small amount onto your skin. This can be used as an oil cleansing method or after cleansing the skin as a serum/moisturizer to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, dark spots and to increase collagen production over time.
- For acne, mix 1 drop of orange essential oil with 1 tsp aloe vera gel and apply as a spot treatment to the affected area.
- Make a tonic for the face using 3 drops of orange essential oil mixed with 1 cup of water and ½ tsp of apple cider vinegar. Apply using cotton pads or balls to face as you would a toner or astringent.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning all about sweet orange essential oil and find it an enjoyable and non-threatening addition to your essential oil tool kit!