Neroli ~ Citrus aurantium L. and/or Citrus bigardia L. possesses GRAS status (generally recognized as safe). Neroli oil contains more than 70 different natural occurring chemicals, however the constituents that are responsible for its lovely scent are primarily:
linalyl acetate (43-68.5%)
geraniol (2.8 – 5.9%), and
limonene (traces up to 10.2%). Percentage levels vary from batch to batch, due growing conditions, geographical location and species.
The essential oil of Neroli is derived by the steam distillation of orange and/or bitter orange tree blossoms. Neroli is one of the most expensive essential oils on the market (approximately $8,000 Cdn. per litre) because it takes about 100 kilos of blooms to create just 1 litre of neroli oil. At that price it is not economically viable for candle and soap manufacturers to use pure essential oil of Neroli in their products and so they often use synthetic knock-offs.
In contrast, just 1 litre of distilled Petitgrain (orange or lemon LEAF oil) is approximately $160 Cdn. per litre, this is due to the fact that the orange leaf yields much more oil than the blossom. When you smell Neroli and Petitgrain side-by-side it is quite clear that they have similar aromatic notes with Neroli being very sweet and floral, while Petitgrain has more sharp, and tenacious green notes.
Neroli oil is highly valued by perfumers for its sweet and middle floral notes, with a slight smokey green pepper undertone. Skin care alchemists declare that Neroli helps to combat dry, irritated and sensitive skin and it may help improve the skin’s elasticity which in-turn may slow down the occurrence of thread veins and prevent scaring.
True Neroli oil is prized by Aromatherapists as being one of the most important oils in their collection, as the scent of Neroli can produce feelings of euphoria and lower respiration, thereby helping to reduce stress and help to quell anxiety.
Two of the chemicals that occur naturally in Neroli and Petitgrain (and in approximately 200 other different species of aromatics plants) are Linalool and linalyl acetate. Research indicates that when the scent of linalool and linalyl acetate are lightly vaporized they have relaxing and positive effects on the central nervous system, helping to quiet the mind and lower respiration and may be useful from a pain management perspective.
In a laboratory setting, the application of Neroli oil was found to have antibacterial action against several species of bacteria while it’s vapour was less effective. Neroli oil application proved effective with many forms of fungi.
Given the fact that Neroli possesses anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties it does not indicate that the oil be used as an alternative to treat bacterial infections in humans. Based on the fact that Neroli possesses anti-microbial properties, some ‘essential oil sales folks’ may entice or suggest that people buy Neroli oil and add it to their home-made cleaning products. In my opinion this is sheer nonsense and an un-ethical sales pitch. Don’t waste your money or your Neroli. There are plenty of other essential oils that contain constituents that are anti-microbial and are more affordable for your do-it-your-self natural cleaning products.
Petitgrain ~ Citrus aurantium L., Citrus reticulata, possesses GRAS status (generally recognized as safe). The primary chemical constituents in Petitgrain are:
linalyl acetate (46-71%)
a-Terpineol (2-8%), and
Geranyl acetate (1.9-3.4%).
As previously mentioned Petitgrain oil is derived via steam distillation of leaves and twigs primarily from the lemon and orange tree. The odour of Petitgrain oil is comprised of nearly 400 different components. Dermal sensitization and phototoxicity is rare with Petitgrain oil unless it has been adulterated with cold pressed citrus oils. In a laboratory setting, the application of Petitgrain oil was found to exhibit relatively good action against several species of bacteria and fungi, however its vapour was less effective.
Given the fact that Petitgrain oil possesses anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties it does not indicate that the oil be used as an alternative to treat bacterial infections in humans. Since Petitgrain is a very affordable essential oil it would make more sense to add a little Petitgrain oil and not Neroli oil to your homemade natural cleaning products. Petitgrain oil is an excellent fragrant choice that could be used to naturally scent unscented mediums such as carrier oils, lotions, creams, deodorants, soaps, shampoos and shower gels. In the palm of your hand with a dollop of your choice (lotion, carrier oil, soap) add 2-3 drops of petitgrain and enjoy.
Linalyl acetate also possess promising anti-inflammatory properties. Linalyl acetate often occurs in conjunction with linalool in many essential oils but it must be understood, that while essential oils possess these valuable properties it does not mean that essential oils should be used in leu of conventional therapies.
Most of the empirical research (scientific) involving essential oils has been conducted in laboratory settings in vitro (controlled environment outside of a living organism) often on skin tissue or ileum (smooth muscle intestine samples) excised from laboratory animals.
Neroli in it’s pure or neat form could cause cutaneous irritation therefore it is imperative to dilute neroli in a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil. Typically safe dilutions of all essential oils should be maintained at less than 6-10% per volume, however harsh essential oils (those essential oils that are known to be severe dermal irritants) should be maintained a lower dilutions such as 1-2% per volume.
Because Neroli is so darn expensive it would be a waste of money to use it in wash off products or to diffuse it in an electric aromatic diffuser. To truly benefit from the relaxing effects of Neroli consider blending 20 drops of neroli in 10 ml bottle of fractionated coconut oil or jojoba oil and use it to perfume your wrists and palms of your hands, and then cup the aroma around your nose in order to benefit from it’s odour – this is what ‘Aroma’-therapy is all about.
Neroli is a very delicate aroma – blending it with other essential oils takes some skill and understanding because some will compliment and others will compete. At Bespoke Aromatics – I personally create custom blended natural perfumes with pure essential oils – drop in for a whiff sometime – and ask about my Neroli Solifore perfume.
Lis-Balchin, M., Dr. (1995) The Chemistry & Bioactivity of Essential Oils.
Lis-Balchin, M., Dr. (2006) Aromatherapy Science, A Guide for HealthCare Professionals.
Tisserand, Robert & Young, Rodney. (2014) Essential Oil Safety, A Guide to Health Care Professionals, 2nd Edition.
Online Research Resources:
Note: Aromatherapy, like any other natural therapy, is intended to complement not replace traditional medicine. When in doubt about any medical condition, always seek medical advice. See legal
Sandra Topper, Professional Aromatherapist & Aromachologist