When I see neroli oil (Citrus aurantium) listed as an essential oil ingredient in any product or mixture, I immediately think of bright flowers and exotic, sweet, calming fragrances. Doubly alluring as the oil itself is the unique way neroli oil is produced: acquired from bitter orange tree blossoms through water distillation. Pale yellow in color and similar in scent to bergamot and lime, neroli essential oil is used in facial toners for its antibacterial and emollient properties. Toners and facial products with neroli oil have also been used to fade acne scars, cleanse skin and improve skintone. Neroli oil’s distinct aroma and therapeutic effects have also been used as an anti-depressant and aromatherapy tool to calm anxiety.
The by-product of neroli distillation is condensed water, better known as orange flower water and is the common form of neroli oil used in many cosmetic fragrances, facial toners, creams and lotions for it’s astringency and aroma. Orange flower water has also been used in baking, concocting medical tonics, and found in many North African and Middle Eastern recipes. Much orange flower water sold today contains large amounts of alcohol or other chemical preservatives, so be sure to carefully research all aspects of this ingredient and manufacturers if you are thinking of purchasing and using it yourself.
It takes approximately 100 lbs of blossoms to produce 1 lb of neroli essential oil.
Producing neroli oil involves gathering fresh bitter orange blossoms by hand and then going through water distillation. Gathering these precious blossoms is all about timing and careful attention; the flowers quickly lose their oil when plucked from the tree. Excessive handling and bruising of the blossoms can also greatly diminish the quality and quantity of neroli oil produced. Swift harvesting and careful handling of the blossoms are qualities of neroli oil production which make this essential oil quite pricey and rare.
Neroli oil is thought to be named after the princess from Nerola (a small city near Rome, Italy) who made the essential oil a fashionable fragrance and healing tonic throughout Europe and Asia. Around the world, neroli has been a popular essential oil since the late 17th century for it’s distinct sweet, spicy aroma and many health benefits. Top commercial producers of neroli oil are Italy, France, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and USA.
Do you use any products containing neroli oil? Here are some products containing neroli oil that I’ve tried or am curious about: