Essential Oil Spotlight: Neroli

Neroli essential oil

The captivating neroli essential oil is extracted from fragrant citrus blossoms of the bitter orange tree (Citrus aurantium subspecies amara), also known as bigarade, sour or Seville orange.

Neroli flowers and essential oil burner

The bigarade orange tree yields a spectrum of botanical aromatics. Bitter orange oil comes from the cold pressed fruit peel; petitgrain oil is distilled from the leaves and twigs. The flower gives orange blossom absolute that is extracted with volatile solvents and last but not least, neroli bigarade essential oil which is hydrodistilled.

Neroli essential oil hydrodistillation results in a low yield. One thousand kilos of these flowers are needed to yield eight hundred grams of this precious aromatic, a costly and labour intensive process. As a result, the quality of the essential oil can vary considerably and the old saying "the nose knows" holds true here.

If unopened or wilted flowers are collected, the distilled oil will have a grassy odour. If small leaves and stalks are inadvertently mixed in with the flowers, the resulting oil can have "off-notes". So, remember to trust your nose in matters of quality control with this essential oil.

Neroli essential oil is light and airy and not very long lasting, yet has an incredible diffusivity and radiance.This is what is referred to as "sillage" - how an aroma leaves a scent trail around a person or object and the strength of its projection or "throw", based on the diffusive nature of the ingredients rather than the longevity or richness of the scent. A few drops in the diffuser is often all that's needed to experience its magnetic effects.

Neroli can be described as an an orange-floral scent but with refreshing green and spice notes and a slight hint of bitter - a "green" floral that is a perfume all by itself. Immersing yourself in its radiant aroma is when you really gain an insight on the power a scent can have on our well being.

Neroli essential oil bottle and flowers

It has a profoundly calming but at the same time uplifting effect. Neroli could be classed along with oils like lavender, clary sage or sweet marjoram with what the aromatherapist Peter Holmes refers to as a "green, calming fragrance energy", that is, having both relaxant and restorative properties at the same time.

In times of stress and major change, neroli is one of your go-to oils to soothe and reassure and maintain a connection to yourself. It reminds you to take a step back and reflect on a situation once in a while to avoid living in a constant state of reaction.

Neroli flowers

In the home, diffusing neroli in the living room gives an easy going, spacious atmosphere to your space. At night, diffuse in the bedroom half an hour before bedtime to relax and unwind.

Neroli functions as a top to middle note. It brings cool, light, green-floral elements and elegance to any essential oil blend.

Neroli essential oil features in the Scentcillo Greek Island and Starlet blends.

The Culture of Scent: Neroli

The use of neroli flowers in wedding traditions dates back to Ancient China, evolving into a symbol of purity, fertility and everlasting love. The Crusaders were said to have brought this tradition to Europe, adopting it from Saracen wedding ceremonies, to be used in their own wedding celebrations upon their return.

The blossoms represented the wish for a marriage to produce abundant offspring, just as the orange was a prosperous fruit-baring tree. Brides would attach the flowers as a headpiece to the bridal veil or add sprigs to their bouquets. Over the years the link between orange blossom and weddings became so firmly entrenched that to say "to gather orange blossom" meant to "seek a wife".

Neroli flower headpiece

Further Reading: Neroli essential oil - relaxing blossom scent of Spring