Everyone knows what oranges are, and the distinct, citrusy tang of orange is an immediately recognizable taste that appears in juices, salads, desserts and savory dishes. The scent of oranges is no less common. Many perfumes and colognes alike use orange as one of the basic odors that make up the complex blend of smells.
What fewer might realize, however, is that the use of the orange tree goes far beyond the various ways in which the fruit can be utilized. The essential oil extracted from the orange tree is used for a variety of purposes that we’ll discuss below.
Orange Oil: An Overview
All of your innate knowledge about the uses for the oranges is great for ordinary, daily use, but what extra properties does the essential oil made from oranges actually have? Vegetable Oil, a website that focuses on explicating the uses for various vegetable- (and in this case, fruit-) based oils, explains:
Orange oil appears as a yellow-orange liquid that smells strongly of the orange fruit. It is almost completely made up of a substance called d-limonene and is classified as an essential oil. It is this chemical that gives the orange fruit its distinct smell and taste. Orange oil is extracted from the rind of oranges in large amounts by centrifugation or distillation during the production of orange juice. It comprises almost 1 percent in volume of the total rind of an orange. Although its appearance and smell closely resembles that of orange juice, it is non-edible and will cause digestive problems and extreme stomach aches if directly consumed due to its high concentration of the slightly toxic d-limonene. Consuming small amounts of it from substances like orange juice has been shown to produce no effect on human health.
This explanation is perhaps slightly technical, but the site continues to explain why the particular chemical content of the essential oil means that the majority of uses for orange oil work as well as they do:
Because of its strong and pleasant aroma, orange oil plays an important part in many major industries. It is usually added to perfumes and household products to enhance or mask smell. Small amounts of it are also commonly added as flavoring to food and drinks, especially cakes. Today, it is largely present in solvents as an alternative to toxic chemicals, especially turpentine and acetone because it is non-toxic, environmentally friendly, cheap to produce and can dissolve stains efficiently.
Orange oil has made appearances in pesticides, especially in organic farms because it contains no poisonous substances and is an eco-friendly way to repel insects on plants. It works because of its active ingredient, d-limonene, which can dissolve the outer parts of insects but has relatively no effect on plants. It is considered the most natural and effective method to prevent ants and termites from infesting and is often used in kitchens where it poses no health risks compared to other frequently used toxic insect repellents.
The following video gives a general overview of the uses of orange oil as well. Note that neither of the lists is all-inclusive, and this article discusses even more ways in which you can garner the benefits of using orange oil.
Bear in mind while you use the essential oil, however, that the toxicity of orange oil does pose a potential hazard. The chemical d-limonene that makes the essential oil useful is the same chemical that can cause adverse reactions when exposed to the human body improperly. As mentioned above, ingested the highly concentrated oil is a problem, but the site offers the following warnings and precautions as well:
Applying orange oil directly on the skin may cure skin infections quickly in some cases, but make sure it is in its diluted form. Using concentrated amounts can cause burns and an increased sensitivity to sunlight which can lead to extreme discomfort because it eats into your skin. It is also flammable so be sure to keep it out of reach from children.
Use #1-12: Health-Related Uses
That the vitamin C traces in citrus products is beneficial to health is an undisputed fact, but the health benefits of orange essential oil aren’t just limited to vitamin C. Organic Facts, a popular health facts website, offers the following stunning list of 12 of the medical uses for orange oil:
Antispasmodic: Spasms can result in many irritating or serious problems including continuous coughing, convulsions, muscle cramps and extreme diarrhea. To avoid these effects, spasms must be treated early or prevented entirely. This can be done with the help of orange essential oil, which relaxes muscular and nervous spasms.
Sedative: When you need to cool down after a hard day at the office or are suffering from inflammation of any kind, you should reach for a natural sedative that helps you to relax. The artificial sedatives or drugs available on the market are mostly tranquilizers-based narcotics, such as opium and other synthetic forms. These, in the long run, do immense damage to the heart and various internal organs. It is a much better choice to use a natural one like orange essential oil. It alleviates anxiety, anger, depression and certain bodily inflammations.
Aphrodisiac: Orange essential oil has mild aphrodisiac properties. Systematic and regular use can cure problems such as frigidity, erectile problems, impotence, loss of interest in sex and decreased libido.
Anti-inflammatory: Orange essential oil provides quick and effective relief from inflammation, whether internal or external. Regardless of the reason, whether it is excessive intake of spices, fever, infections, side effects of antibiotics, gas, ingestion of toxic substances, or narcotics, orange essential oil can reduce the irritation and knee pain.
Cholagogue: It promotes secretions from all appropriate glands, including the exocrine and endocrine. Therefore, it is frequently used to promote menstruation, lactation, digestive juices, bile, hormones and enzymes.
Antiseptic: Wherever there is a cut or abrasion, there is always the chance of the wound becoming septic due to a bacterial infection. This is even more likely when the wound occurred from an iron object because then there remains a chance of it becoming infected by tetanus germs. Orange essential oil can help people avoid both septic, fungal infections and tetanus as they inhibit microbial growth and disinfect the wounds.
Antidepressant: The very smell of orange essential oil reminds you of happy moments and brings pleasant thoughts to mind. That is why this oil is so frequently used in aromatherapy. It creates a happy, relaxed feeling and works as a mood lifter, perfect for people who suffer from depression or chronic anxiety. Research suggests that natural essential oil of orange helps to reduce pulse rate and salivary cortisol due to child anxious state.
Diuretic: First, orange essential oils rids your body of excess gas, and then it’s time to get rid of the excess toxins. Again, the remedy is the same. Orange oil can effectively flush the body of toxins as well. It promotes urination, which eliminates toxins like uric acid, bile, excess salts, pollutants and excess water within the urine. Urination improves appetite and promotes digestion. It contributes toward losing fats, which makes it good for the heart as well.
Tonic: The relation of a tonic to the body is quite similar to overhauling and servicing a vehicle. A tonic tones up every system that functions throughout the body, keeps the metabolic system in proper shape, contributes to strength, and boosts immunity.
Carminative: Being a carminative means being an agent that helps in the removal of excess gas from the intestines. Gas, which forms in the intestines and pushes upwards, can be very troublesome. Gas, since it is light, moves upwards and pushes against the internal organs, creating chest pains, indigestion and discomfort. It can also cause a rise in blood pressure, negatively affect heart health and cause acute stomach aches. Orange essential oil can help with many of these problems because it relaxes the abdominal and anal muscles, thereby letting the gas escape. Furthermore, it does not let additional gas form.
Alzheimer’s disease: A study suggests that aromatherapy using orange essential oil may aid in improving cognitive function, especially in Alzheimer’s or dementia patients.
Insecticide: Research suggests that orange essential oil is effective against larvae and pupae of house fly and may eliminate house flies.
Based on this research, it would appear that regularly using orange essential oils in this way can be beneficial for the health of your whole family. Here’s a video as well that expounds upon some of these uses:
Uses #13-17: Cosmetic Uses
The next major subsection of orange oil uses have to do with cosmetics. Because orange oil has such distinctive and pleasant smells, many cosmetic products contain traces of orange oil. Organic Facts, the health website mentioned above, notes that the essential oil made from orange peels is used industrially in “soaps, body lotions, creams, anti-aging and wrinkle-lifting applications” to add scent to the mixtures.
You can create your own orange oil cosmetics as well. Simply adding a few drops of the essential oil to your favorite lotion, soap, creams, massage oils and even mouthwashes can imbue the liquids with the properties of orange oil.
Uses #18-20: Miscellaneous Household Uses
Orange oil is used primarily in the health-related and cosmetic fields, but you can find plenty of uses for orange oil in the house as well. For example, orange oil is often used as an ingredient in various cleaning products because the essential oil made from oranges has natural antibacterial properties (from the d-limonene). A writer from Aroma Web, an aromatherapy and essential oils website, explains how the essential oil can be used:
With its versatility, affordability and wonderfully uplifting aroma, orange oil is one of the most popular of essential oils within aromatherapy. The aroma of orange oil is cheerful and helps to improve the aroma of a stale-smelling or smoky room. [. . .] Orange oil has become a popular ingredient within a wide assortment of natural (and some not-so-natural) household cleaning products. I often add a few drops when I clean the floor, but I always recommend being careful when trying essential oils on surfaces for the first time, and only use a few drops.
Some people can’t tolerate citrus essential oils (or are even allergic), so be prudent when diffusing orange oil around others, but overall, sweet orange oil is a winner with children and adults alike.
Orange oil can be extremely useful as a cleaning product, but, perhaps surprisingly, it can be used as a polish to apply on wooden furniture. Western Wood Doctor, a comprehensive wood care website, explains one orange oil-based product that works particularly well:
Howard’s Orange Oil Cleaner and Furniture Polish is a moisturizing polish that works great on any type of wood or finish. It uses the cleaning power of real orange oil to break down dirt and grime build-up while enhancing the depth, luster and natural beauty of the wood grain. It doesn’t contain silicone or wax so it won’t build up on the wood finish.
Howard’s Orange Oil Cleaner and Furniture Polish is a natural cleaner that works great on antiques, kitchen tables, end tables, coffee tables, countertops, cabinets, bathrooms, etc. You can also use it to remove the gummy residue left from price tags, tape, etc. It smells delicious! (like a freshly peeled orange).
Not only does the orange oil polish keep your furniture looking and smelling nice, its natural insecticide properties can protect your home from insect infestations as well. The following video further explains how orange oil can be used as a wood polish.
You can purchase orange oil to use for these various purposes from your local essential oil store (or any online store), but you can try to make it yourself. Here are two videos that demonstrate different methods by which you can successfully extract your own orange oils from oranges bought at an ordinary supermarket: