Citrus essential oils are amazing! Their aromas are fresh and uplifting, creating a good mood and bright aroma. They are easily attainable at most popular essential oil brands and usually one or two of them comes in a standard essential oils starter kit. That said, some citrus oils are also phototoxic, exposing your skin to dangers of pigmentation if used prior to sun exposure. In this article you’ll find all the info you need to safely use citrus essential oils during summer months.
Further, some citrus oils can corrode the plastic components used in essential oil diffusers, damaging the materials and leaving behind a permanent scent that you don’t really want around when you choose to switch up your diffuser blend to other oils.
Not all citrus oils don’t play well together with the diffuser plastics. Further below in this article, I’ve outlined which ones exactly you need to be careful around. Some citrus essentials are totally okay in any diffuser. I’ve just summarized this article to include all citrus essential oils so that you can at the same time learn something more about this group of oils as well.
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Citrus essential oils are one of the most popular fragrances that commercial industries use. However, if you have read some reviews on diffusers, a lot would hesitate to use citrus essential oils in their diffusers. You may ask, “Can’t I really use them in my diffuser?”, “What’s wrong with citrus oils in diffusers?”, “Well that sucks, how else could I use them?”
These are the questions I’m going to answer for you. This article will give you a bunch of ideas about citrus essential oils and how to apply them without using diffusers.
What are Citrus Essential Oils?
When you enter a room and there’s someone in there peeling an orange or slicing a lemon, no matter where you are, your sense of smell won’t mistake that for anything else. That is the smell of citrus essential oils.
Citrus essential oils are extracts from fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits. Their distinct fragrance are due to the aromatic compounds in the form of terpenes that are present in the leaves, flowers and fruit rinds of citrus trees.
How are citrus essential oils extracted?
Steam distillation and cold pressing are two of the known methods for extracting citrus essential oils.
- In steam distillation, you heat the fruit peelings or any area of the plant as your source. Then, the extract in the form of steam will be condensed. The oil extract is then separated from the water. Essential oils have been extracted through steam or hydro-distillation even as early as the Middle Ages by the Arabs for beneficial purposes 1. Not much has changed since then, apart from the ever progressing technology and the growing pursuit of acquiring new knowledge through research.
- The much more specific way for citrus fruits, is extraction through cold pressing. This is a mechanical separation that involves pressing the essential oil out. The cold temperature pressing works at an advantage of preserving the potency of the aroma.
Citrus Essential Oils Uses & Benefits
Citrus essential oils, in general, possess antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties. They are known detoxifiers and also help in weight loss. However, it is important to keep in mind that most of them, especially cold-pressed essential oils, are photo-toxic. Keep them away from light to prevent skin irritation and allergies. Essential oils have many advantages and can help in the prevention or healing of several complaints.
11 Examples of Citrus Essential Oils 2
- Lime Essential Oil (Citrus Aurantifolia) has a characteristic light green color with a sweet, tart aroma that came from Mexican Lime or West Indian Lime. Lime oil is used a lot for preventing contamination. In fact, you can use lime as a first-aid to inhibit tetanus infection.
- Bitter Orange Essential Oil (Citrus Aurantium), as its name suggests, has a characteristic bitter orange aroma. With its carminative and digestive remedial benefits, you can use this in treating constipation and other related digestion problems.
- Petitgrain Essential Oil (Citrus Aurantium) has a characteristic clear yellow appearance that came from the leaves and twigs of the orange tree. As a result, it has less of the fruity aroma and more of the fresh, woody and slightly floral scent.
- Neroli Essential Oil (Citrus Aurantium) has a distinct orange-brown color with a floral aroma that can only come from the fresh blossoms of the orange tree.
- Bergamot Essential Oil (Citrus Bergamia) is a green oil that came from bergamot orange peels.
- Lemon Essential Oil (Citrus Limon) has the familiar lemon scent, but just stronger as it is concentrated.
- Yuzu Essential oil (Citrus Junos) has a greenish orange color that came from the fruit peel. It has a characteristic bright, fruity aroma that you can use for relieving fatigue and anxiety.
- Grapefruit Essential Oil (Citrus Paradisi) has a sweet and tangy aroma that came from grapefruit rinds. It is known to be useful for treatment of water retention and accumulation of toxins.
- Mandarin Essential Oil (Citrus Reticulata) came from the citrus rinds and has the sweetest aroma among the citrus oils. A lot of industries in soap making and cosmetics apply orange oil in their products.
- Sweet Orange Essential Oil (Citrus Sinensis) is what is commonly known as the generic orange oil. It is a popular scent which came from the citrus orange rinds.
- Blood Orange Essential Oil (Citrus Sinensis) has a similar aroma to that of Sweet Orange essential oil, but with a slightly sour characteristic.
Citrus Essential Oils Phototoxicity
Essential oils are popular for beauty and body treatments. They are very potent and they must be diluted in a lotion or carrier oil before you can safely use them on the skin. Phototoxicity, also called photosensitivity, is when the skin is expose to direct sunlight and shows signs of an allergic reaction, after having been in contact with essential oils. Any lotion, spray or body mist you apply before heading out into the sun, should definitely contain no big amounts of phototoxic essential oils.
To further complicate things, there are actual limits of how much is considered safe, vs. when they start reacting with the sunlight.
Not all citrus essential oils are phototoxic. And, not all phototoxic essential oils are citrus oils. Whew!
Which Citrus Essential Oils are Photosensitive?
- Bergamot essential oil
- Cold pressed Lime essential oil
- Bitter Orange essential oil
- Cold pressed Lemon essential oil
- Grapefruit essential oil
If you’ve been exposed to a phototoxic essential oil, or if a photosensitive oil has be utilized in aromatherapy massage, the individual should not sun tan for twelve or more hours after the massage. Avoid direct sun exposure for at least 12+ hours. If you still like to use these oils, you totally can, but you have to stay below safe limits. Use fewer drops, or choose to diffuse it rather than applying it topically.
Which Citrus Essential Oils are NOT Phototoxic?
- Steam distilled Bergamot essential oil
- Steam distilled Lemon essential oil
- Steam distilled Lime essential oil
- Mandarin essential oil
- Sweet Orange essential oil
- Tangerine essential oil
Citrus Essential Oils in Your Diffuser
Citrus oils naturally give a distinct whiff in the air because essential oils are small in terms of molecular size. Diffusers work by distributing these particles to the air. Once in the air, they come in contact to your skin and with the nerves that would send those therapeutic benefits to the brain.
So, can you use citrus oil in your diffusers? The answer would be yes. However, there are inconvenient consequences. Citrus oils originate from fruits that are naturally acidic. When you use them in your diffusers, it could corrode the inner components. Generally, diffusers are made of plastic materials that are not highly corrosive, but susceptible to it, nonetheless. A lot of it here depends on the quality of your manufacturer’s choice in plastics used.
Corrosion of your essential oil diffuser due to citrus oil use would only lead to unprecedented early damage of the diffuser. Aside from that, as a result of the corrosion of plastic, you may diffuse petrochemicals to the air if you continue using this diffuser unknowlingly.
There are some glass essential oil diffusers that would have no of citrus oil diffuser damage – like this one here. It’s around $45 so still extremely attainable.
If you still plan to use citrus oils in your regular one-size-fit-all diffuser, and this unit so happens to have plastic components, please make sure that the oil doesn’t remain sitting in there, especially when not in use. You would have to clean your diffuser within 24 hours after each use.
Pretty tedious, right? Not to mention, a bit risky. Sure, there may be diffusers made out of anti-corrosion materials. But it’s best to be cautious and not take the chance. Either switch to a glass diffuser, or have a look at the following cheap and shockingly creative ways to apply citrus essential oils into your daily life without using a diffuser!
How to Apply Citrus Essential Oils without Using a Diffuser?
Here are some simple and creative alternative ways of applying citrus essential oils:
Necklaces, bracelets, keychains, earrings — jewelry could be diffusers, too!
You can buy diffuser jewelry or, even better, you can make your own. You could make a quick diffuser on-the-go by adding a few (one to three) drops of your essential oil to some air dry clay (find it HERE for around $6), form it to your desired shape, and design it into a shape of your choice. Now you can go anywhere with a pocket smelling fresh and sweet!
How long the aroma lasts would depend on the type of essential oil. But you can always make another one, place it inside a cute vessel as a pendant, then it’s good as new.
Terra Cotta Pendants
Many crafty small businesses offer ready-made terra cotta pendants. A company I can highly recommend is Terra-Cotta-Pendants.com. Browse their large selection of 120 designs and you’re sure to find a pendant symbol that matches your style. Pendants are also affordably priced and come on decent quality leather strings. The packaging is simple but professional, so these diffuser bracelets, car diffusers, or necklaces are definitely gift-worthy as well.
Scented candles never get old. Aside from the soft glow ambience and the calming mood they bring about, the aroma definitely adds flavor to the overall setting.
Just add 10-20 drops of your favorite citrus oil and mix it with a carrier oil, say grapeseed oil. The presence of the carrier oil would give a lasting aroma. Apply it to the candle with your hands and spread it over the entire area apart from the wick. Leave it for at least an hour for the oil to absorb. Then, you may light the scented candles in your room or during your bath.
A do-it-yourself essential oil spray would be an organic way to freshen up your surroundings without the use of the artificial fragrance from aerosols. You simply need drops of your favorite essential oil, water and an alcohol as an emulsifying agent. The amount and ratio of these ingredients is up to your preference and good judgment. Then, you could spray the scent to your rooms or your cars. No aerosols, just organic fruity scents.
Reed diffusers give an impression of calm simplicity. They are just like candles, but even safer without the fire. You can buy reed diffusers, although, it could easily be done at home. All you need are reed diffuser sticks or bamboo skewers, drops of your favorite essential oil, light carrier oil and a fancy vase or bottle with narrow opening.
For a lasting fragrance, a light carrier oil is preffered so that the oil would absorb to the sticks faster compared to a heavier oil. A container with a narrow opening would reduce the rate of evaporation.
Reed diffusers could last as long as all of the oil evaporates. Even then, you could fill it once again.
Cotton balls with drops of your favorite citrus essential oil is another effortless way to freshen up your dank cabinets and your musky closets. Just leave them to it, and nature would do the work.
Toilet Paper Roll
This method is a great idea to apply especially if you are expecting visitors at your house. Just get a roll of tissue, pour a few drops of citrus oil into the carton roll, then place it in its dispenser. When the visitor goes to your bath and gets enough roll of tissue, a citrus whiff of air would fill the room.
Personal inhalers are your very own portable and emergency refuge. During unfortunate occasions when you feel dizzy or whenever you’re feeling unwell, you could just grab your first-aid personal inhaler. Inhalers are available at very affordable prices, so you could easily get one. Then, just add about 15 drops to the cotton pad. It may be less or more, depending on your preference.
Do you see? There are a lot of cheap and creative ways in applying citrus essential oils just with the use of everyday mundane things. Citrus essential oils are too good for your diffuser! Try those alternatives and share them with your friends! If you have some more ideas, feel free to comment below and let us know.
“I consider essential oils the life force or soul of the plant.”
– Stephanie Tourles, Organic Body Care Recipes
Stephanie Tourles, a certified aromatherapist from Orland, Maine, definitely speaks the truth, although, figuratively.