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Oranges are well known, delicious fruits that are packed with Vitamin C and other essential vitamins and nutrients that make them an important part of anyone’s diet. They’re incredibly effective in uplifting spirits and energy without affecting natural sugar balance, as they contain low amounts of fructose – a naturally occurring simple sugar that can lead to sugar spikes or be harmful to those with diabetes. However, it’s advisable that you still drink orange juice in moderate amounts, as consuming it in excess regularly can promote tooth decay. But a glass or two a day is no problem!
Besides being a natural stimulant (high natural electrolyte content), the orange is also amazing at strengthening your immune system and fighting off infections that are common during flu season. Besides the high levels of Vitamin C that oranges are known for, they also contain minerals such as potassium and calcium – which are highly effective with regards to helping your body fight off infection. A little known fact about the humble orange is that they also contain reasonably high levels of Vitamin A – which makes them really good for both your eyes and your skin. However, it’s the essential oil of this fruit that really contains all the good stuff that’s so good for you – so keep reading to find out more.
What is Orange Essential Oil?
Oranges have been mentioned as far back as 300 years BC and have been revered by many societies for their delightful smell and incredible healing properties. The orange tree is native to most tropical and subtropical regions around the world, however it is currently cultivated on a mass-scale in Brazil, the US and China for a variety of reasons. The most commonly cultivated genus of the fruit is known as the ‘sweet’ orange and the name gives you the best indication of it’s qualities. It contains very low levels of acidity making it suitable for consumption in fruit form, as a jam/marmalade or as a juice. Some might say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but it’s equally true that an orange a day will do the same – if not more!
The essential oil of the orange is even more potent as it’s a distilled extraction of all the essential nutrients, vitamins and phytochemicals that make the orange such a potent natural health and skin care treatment. The oil is extracted from the rind (or peel) of the fruit through a method known as steam distillation. Steam distillation is the oldest method of producing essential oils and is still one of the best ways to do so as it provides a pure extract which is free from impurities.
The peel of the orange is crushed or pressed and placed into a chamber. Water is then heated in a separate compartment in order to produce steam, which then passes through a tube and enters the chamber where the organic matter is contained. The steam fills the chamber and the essential nutrients and vitamins of the organic matter are extracted through the process of evaporation. The steam, now containing all the essential nutrients and vitamins, passes through another tube and gathers in a final chamber where the vapor condenses and forms droplets. These droplets then gather at the base of the chamber and form the final product – the essential oil. This can be diluted again if need be in order to change the grade or potency of the oil – but generally is left in its first form in order to retain as many of the phytochemicals and nutrients that make the oil so healthy.
How To Use Orange Essential Oil For Skin
As I mentioned earlier in the article, the orange is a strong source of a variety of vitamins, nutrients and phytochemicals that make it incredibly healthy and suitable as a natural skin treatment too. Everyday, our skin is exposed to the sun for various amounts of time. Even when it’s cloudy outside, our skin is still affected by the harmful UV rays that the sun emits. These UV rays are one of the main causes of free-radical damage on our skin – one of the main causes of speeding up the aging process.
The strong antioxidant properties contained in the various phytonutrients and chemical compounds of the orange oil such as citronellal, alpha pinene and linalool help to contain and get rid of the free-radical molecules before they can damage or degenerate skin tissue, thus preventing or at least slowing the signs of aging on our skin in the form of wrinkles and sun spots.
These chemical components also help to reduce the effects of inflammation on your skin rapidly and can soothe and moisturize the surface layer, allowing for better cell regeneration. This makes the oil a suitable treatment for acne, psoriasis (or eczema) and general skin irritation or redness often caused by an allergic reaction. Although, it’s always recommended that you seek medical attention if you have known allergies – the oil can help to soothe your skin on the way to the doctor’s office or be used as an alternative in an emergency situation.
The strong antiseptic properties of the oil also make it an effective means of treating minor cuts or wounds from getting infected. The oil can also be used to regulate and reduce the effects of excess sebum oil on your skin, which often causes your pores to be blocked and results in blemishes or blackheads. By cutting through this oil, and ultimately removing it, you can restore your skin’s natural oil balance and reduce the amount of blemishes on your face with regular use.
The best way to utilize the oil is by exfoliating your skin first with a natural scrub or via steam treatment (roughly 3-5 minutes) to open your pores and loosen any dead skin cells or toxins that are on the surface of your skin. Then apply the oil to your skin with a clean cotton swab. Make sure that your rub the oil over most of your face, especially the affected areas and sensitive T-zone (under your eyes, your forehead and sides of your nose). Use multiple swabs if need be. Once this is done, rinse your face with cool water and pat dry with a clean towel. Orange essential oil has a very low comedogenic rating – so is suitable to be left on your skin overnight as a moisturizer – if you’d like to apply a small amount after drying for toning reasons. Repeat this process daily if you’re just scrubbing, but if you’re utilizing a steam method – repeat 3 times a week.
How To Use Orange Essential Oil for Hair
One of the most amazing qualities about orange essential oil is that it’s suitable for treating a serious lice infection – which is good news for anyone who’s ever been unfortunate enough to contract a lice infection and knows how harmful chemical treatments can be. The strong citrus odor and antibacterial qualities of the oil helps to ward off the lice as well as kill off their eggs and an larvae that may be left on your scalp.
The other benefits of this essential oil for your hair is that it acts as a natural moisturizer and conditioner and will help to reduce the signs of frizziness and split ends in dry or damaged hair. The oil also adds volume to hair, helping users feel fresh and revitalized. The oil penetrates deep into the hair follicles by entering from the scalp – which means that they are nourished from the inside, making the the follicles stronger and promoting generally healthier hair. The Vitamin C content in the oil also stimulate the flow of blood cells in the scalp, which means more nutrients reach the follicles. This also promotes hair growth, or at least slows and ultimately prevents hair loss in both men and women.
How To Make DIY Homemade Anti-Lice Shampoo Spray
- 2 cups of water.
- 2 tbsp of aloe vera gel.
- 10 de-seeded, whole soapnuts 2x tbsp of unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
- 2 tbsp of dried orange peel 4x tbsp of extra virgin oilve oil.
- 1 cinnamon stick.
- 10 orange oil drops.
- 1 tbsp of lemongrass essential oil.
- 5 drops of tea tree essential oil.
- 9 drops of cinnamon leaf essential oil (or 5 cinnamon sticks).
- 2 empty spray bottle.
- Combine the water, soapnuts, orange peels and cinnamon oil (or sticks) into a pan and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add the lemongrass. Let the mixture cool.
- Once cool, pour the mixture into a bowl through either a mesh strainer or muslin/cheesecloth.
- Now add the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, aloe vera gel and the essential oils to the mixture.
- Pour this into a spray bottle and shake well.
Make sure you shake well before using the mixture each time. For the first treat mean, spray the mixture into your hair until it is completely saturated. Then cover your hair with a shower cap and let it sit for 1-4 hours (the longer the better). Now, rinse your hair in a shower and follow this up with an apple cider rinse and then use a lice comb on your hair. Repeat this process each day for 7 days, and allow the mixture to soak into your hair for at least 10-15 minutes each time.
To make the vinegar rinse, simply combine the following ingredients into a separate spray bottle:
- 2 ¼ cups of herbal tea 10 x drops of cinnamon oil (4-5 sticks).
- ¼ cups of apple cider vinegar 9 x drops of orange oil.
- ¼ cup of aloe vera gel 5 x drops of lavender oil.
- 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.
Is Sweet Orange Essential Oil Different Than Orange Essential Oil?
The truth about oranges is that there are a wide variety of them in cultivation today – however, the majority of fruit cultivated is of the ‘sweet’ variety (roughly 70% as a matter of fact). All oranges share basically the same nutrient qualities – however some contain more limonin and limonoids which make them more acidic in flavor and less suitable as edible fruits or for juicing purposes.
However, the basic chemical compounds and phytonutrients that make the orange rinds viable for steam distillation are contained in almost all cultivars of the fruit, meaning that orange or ‘sweet’ orange oil will have basically the same properties. ‘Sweet’ orange oil, would however, be more suitable for cooking or baking with because of it’s sweeter flavor and aroma.
How to Make DIY Orange Essential Oil
Making orange oil at home is quite simple really – and it’s always handy to keep a bottle of the stuff around, whether you’re using it for cooking, baking or treating your hair and skin. The ingredients are cheap and readily available and the process is quick and simple. What you will need:
- Zester (or paring knife).
- Grain alcohol (or vodka).
- Muslin or cheesecloth.
- Paper towel.
- Glass jar with a lid.
- 7-9 oranges.
How to prepare the oil: Firstly, grate or cut off the peel (or rind) of the oranges. As much as you can and with as little as the white pith that’s found on the inside of the peel. Once you have a sizeable amount of peels (a handful will work), cut them into smaller pieces, place those on a paper towel and allow them to dry on a windowsill with as much direct sunlight as possible. Note that this may take up 2 days.
Once the peels are dry, place them in the glass jar. Now, heat up the grain alcohol or vodka by placing the whole bottle in a bowl of warm (preferably steaming) tap water. Once the temperature of the alcohol has risen (touch to tell), pour the alcohol into the glass jar until it just covers the orange peels. Now, tightly secure the lid of the jar and shake the liquid vigorously for about 3-5 minutes.
Do this a few times daily for at least 3 days. The rule of thumb here is that the more you shake the jar, and the longer you leave the peels in the alcohol, the more oil will be extracted. Then, strain the liquid through your muslin or cheesecloth filter into a bowl and cover with a paper towel – make sure that the towel doesn’t fall into or touch the liquid. Leave this in an open and cool space for a few days (3-4). Once the alcohol has evaporated completely (you’ll know by consistently gauging it’s smell) – what’s left is the oil.
As a general word of advice, we recommend that anyone who is pregnant stay away from essential oils in general or consult a doctor before using anything. They’re highly concentrated and could have an effect on your child. The same applies for children under the age of 6. It’s also important to patch test the oil on your skin before applying vigorously as you might be allergic and not even know it. Generally though, reactions are rare and the essential oils are considered safe by many health care practitioners as well as non-toxic.
— Natural JOE (@ntrljoe) December 22, 2016
Orange essential oil is an amazing oil to add to any collector’s cupboard or as a starting point for anyone who’s new to the world of essential oils. I highly recommend giving this a try as it’s a really versatile oil that’s effective and smells great. A rare combination and definitely a must-have item in any household. It’s also great for those outdoor adventurers or keen campers as it works well as a natural pest and insect repellent – without the downside of side-effects or skin irritations that occur with most repellents. It’s safe, non-toxic, smells great and works well. But don’t just take my word for it – try some and see for yourself!