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Why Cold Expression for Citrus Essential Oils?

Why Cold Extraction for Citrus Essential Oils?

Citrus essential oils, such as Lemon, Lime, Orange, and Mandarin, are the perfect oils for this time of year. Winter is coming to an end, and the bright uplifting aroma of citrus can help remind you that spring is just around the corner. With this season change also comes spring cleaning! Citrus oils are a classic ingredient in homemade cleaning products.

Most essential oils are distilled with a combination of water and steam, but oils from citrus peels are cold expressed to preserve all of the aromatic botanical goodness that they posses. This process involves puncturing the skins of either the whole fruit or just the fruit peel and pressing the essential oil out. With this process, a little bit of juice is also extracted, which is then separated from the essential oil.

For therapeutic uses, you want to buy a citrus oil that is cold expressed, however you can find distilled citrus oils on the market as well. These oils are mostly used in the fragrance industry and have different characteristics then an expressed citrus oil. Pictured below is an expressed lime essential oil (left) and a distilled lime essential oil (right). The expressed oil has a rich green-golden color and has that characteristic tart lime aroma. The distilled oil is clear and has an almost sweet aroma more associated with a lemon-lime flavor.

The difference between Cold Expressed and Steam Distilled essential oils.

The aromas of citrus oils are not always as sour as they may seem. Orange or Tangerine oils have a sweet citrus aroma, where Lime and Grapefruit have a more sour note. I consider Lemon to be the middle, and Bergamot has a slightly spicy note to it. All citrus oils are considered top notes, and will evaporate quickly, so it is a good idea to add some grounding base and middle notes while blending, like with Clary Sage or Nutmeg.

Citrusy Cleaning Recipes!

Essential oils for natural cleaning.

Citrus Shine Aroma Spritz Recipe

Mix all ingredients in a 2 oz glass bottle with mister top. Shake well before use and spray as needed. This blend makes a wonderful spritz for offices or bathrooms. It may also be used as a dusting spray while cleaning.


Multipurpose Cleaner Recipe

Mix all ingredients together. This blend may be used on most hard surfaces as a general surface cleaner in a spray bottle, or as a floor cleaner (when cleaning hard wood floors always clean a small test patch to ensure the blend does not react with the finish on the floor)


Want more cleaning recipes using natural essential oils?

Check out The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier!



Topics: Recipes, Aromatherapy


Written by Christine on February 22, 2013

Christine, Products Manager and Certified Aromatherapist, is super knowledgeable about all our products after having spent more than a decade at Mountain Rose Herbs. When she isn’t overseeing our line of thousands of sustainable offerings, she can be found gardening, running around with her energetic daughter, canning and preserving food, homebrewing, and spending time outdoors.