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Orange oil is an essential oil produced by glands inside the rind of an orange fruit. It is extracted or steam distilled as a by-product of orange juice production. It is composed of mostly (greater than 90%) d-limonene[1], and is therefore often used in place of pure d-limonene, which can be further extracted from the oil by distillation.



Limonene is what gives citrus fruit their familiar aroma, and is therefore used in perfume and household cleaners for its fragrance. It is also an effective, environmentally friendly, and relatively safe solvent, which makes it an active ingredient of choice in many applications, such as, but not limited to, adhesive and stain removers, cleaners of various sorts, and strippers.


The composition of orange oil varies for several reasons. Region and seasonal changes as well as the method used for extraction lead to these variations. Several hundred compounds have been identified with gas chromatograph-mass spectroscopy. Most of the substances are part of the terpene group with limonene being the dominant one. Long chain aliphatic hydrocarbon alcohols and aldehydes like Octanal and Octanol are second important group of substances.

Compound Italian Orange Oil[2] Concentration [%] Valencia orange oil[3] Concentration [%] Valencia orange oil[4] Concentration [%] Valencia orange oil[5] Concentration [%]
Limonene 93.67 91.4 95.17 97.0
α-Pinene 0.65 1.4 0.42 -
Sabinene and β-Pinene 1.00 0.4 0.24 -
Myrcene 2.09 4.3 1.86 0.03
Octanal 0.41 - - -
Linalool 0.31 0.8 0.25 0.03
δ-3-Carene 0.31 - - -
Decanal 0.27 0.4 0.28 -


The limonene which is the main component of the oil is a mild irritant, as it dissolves protective skin oils. It is wise to wear solvent-resistant gloves when handling limonene solutions.

Limonene and its oxidation products are skin irritants, and limonene-1,2-oxide (formed by aerial oxidation) is a known skin sensitizer. Most reported cases of irritation have involved long-term industrial exposure to the pure compound, e.g. during degreasing or the preparation of paints. However a study of patients presenting dermatitis showed that 3% were sensitized to limonene.

Limonene has been observed to cause cancer in male rats, by reacting with α2U-globulin, which is not produced by female rats. There is no evidence for carcinogenicity or genotoxicity in humans. The IARC classifies d-limonene under Class 3: not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans. [6]

Orange oil can be used in pesticides [7]. Insects and small animals deaths in open drums of orange oil have been observed.

For more details of the regulatory status and toxicity, see limonene.

Limonene is also flammable. [8]

Treating Termite Infestations

Orange oil is increasingly being used as an alternative to more traditional methods of ridding a house of termites, such as tenting or using other dangerous pesticides. The benefits of an orange oil treatment include: occupants do not have to leave, the fumes are safe for people, pets, and plants, and the treatment does not leave behind toxic residue or fumes. The cons are: orange oil only kills the termites that the termite inspectors find and spray directly, it doesn't kill termites in the ground (or there's no guarantee that they'll get all of the underground termites), and the poison doesn't last long meaning that the building can be re-infested later.

External links


  1. ^ K. Bauer, D. Garbe, and H. Surburg, "Common Fragrence and Flavor Materials", 4th Ed, Wiley VCH, 2001, ISBN 3-527-30364-2. 189.
  2. ^ A. Verzera, A. Trozzi, G. Dugo, G. Di Bella, A. Cotroneo (2004). "Biological lemon and sweet orange essential oil composition". Flavour and Fragrance Journal 19 (6): 544–548. doi:10.1002/ffj.1348.  
  3. ^ J. Pino *, M. Sánchez, R. Sánchez, E. Roncal (2006). "Chemical composition of orange oil concentrates". Nahrung / Food 36 (6): 539–542. doi:10.1002/food.19920360604.  
  4. ^ J. D. Vora , R. F. Matthews , P. G. Crandall , R. Cook (1983). "Preparation and Chemical Composition of Orange Oil Concentrates". Journal of Food Science 48 (4): 1197–1199. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2621.1983.tb09190.x.  
  5. ^ R. L. Colman, E. D. Lund, M. G. Moshonas (1969). "Composition of Orange Essence Oil". Journal of Food Science 34 (6): 610–611. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2621.1969.tb12102.x.  
  6. ^ ".".  
  7. ^ ".".  
  8. ^ "Safety data (MSDS) for limonene".  


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