I want to talk today about the citrus oils because they are much more affordable than some other oils that are available but this does not mean that they are somehow inferior or less useful or poorer quality or anything like that. The main reason that there is a significant price discrepancy with oils is because of the amount of oil that can be extracted from the plant material.
Let’s break it down
Citrus oils are extracted from the rind of the fruit and there is substantially more oil in the rind of a citrus fruit than there is in, say, the petal of one rose.
For comparison, it takes the rind from around 25 lemons to extract 5 mL of essential oil. It takes almost 10 kg of rose petals to get the same amount of rose essential oil. The sheer cost of the raw plant material to create rose essential is mind-blowing, and yes, rose essential oil is incredible, but it’s not within everyone’s budget. Citrus oils – some at less than $20 for 15 mL – are much more affordable and should be more widely celebrated for their incredible benefits and uses.
The other reason that citrus oil is comparatively “cheap” is because citrus fruits are so much more readily available than other oils. While some plants grow best in certain climates, citrus fruit is hardy and comparatively prolific so it’s more accessible which drives the end cost down.
What are some of the ways to use citrus oils?
So maybe now you’re thinking, “That’s great, Eva. I can afford a few citrus oils but what the heck can I do with them?” Keep reading…
You can diffuse them, add them to skincare, clean with them, use them in baking, reduce discomfort, help with mood boosting… There are so many ways to use citrus essential oils and I really want to challenge you today to grab those citrus oils and start using them. Don’t leave them on the shelf because you think they’re only good for cleaning sticky residue off old jam jars.
The citrus oils are well-researched and acknowledged as known mood boosters so if you’re after something uplifting in the diffuser, definitely pop a citrus oil in. If you don’t really love the scent of a citrus oil on its own, add a tree oil, then you’ll have the beautiful combined properties of uplifting + grounding.
There was a super fascinating study done a few years ago that looked at how inhalation of specific citrus oils helped to improve positive feels for people in the waiting room of a mental health treatment centre.
The citrus oils have beautiful skin clearing properties so they’re really good to add to your DIY skincare or even just to add to your commercial skincare products.
We use citrus oils extensively in baking (think lemon meringue pie and choc-orange brownie) and I add a few drops (usually of lime, lemon or tangerine) to olive oil to create a simple, delicious home made salad dressing.
You can add a drop to your drinking water, NingXia or juice and you can of course clean using citrus essential oils.
What does it mean when we say that citrus oils are phototoxic?
Citrus oils and oil blends that contain citrus oils are what is referred to as phototoxic. Phototoxicity is a type of allergic reaction where a chemical substance increases the sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) light. Essentially, this means that they increase the risk of sunburn.
If you apply a citrus oil topically on your neck and then spend an hour in the sun, you are highly likely to experience some form of irritation, whether it be redness, sunburn or even blistering.
The best way to manage this is to avoid the topical use of citrus oils right before you go outside. Instead, if you wish to apply citrus oils topically, do so in the evening or cover with thick clothing. Alternatively, you can use the oil in a diffuser necklace, bracelet or earrings.
There is some discussion that suggests tangerine is not phototoxic, but considering that all the other citrus oils are, I would be inclined to patch test before you slather it on.
Is there Vitamin C in citrus oils?
First of all, we know that citrus fruit contains vitamin C. We also know that some citrus fruits contain more Vitamin C in the peel than in the inner fruit so on the surface it seems logical that if our oil is coming from the peel, then that would also contain vitamin C.
But this is not the case. If your citrus oil has been steam distilled, it definitely won’t contain vitamin C. Vitamin C begins to degrade at around 70 C and steam distillation is usually a hotter than that.
However, even if your oil is cold-pressed – which all the Young Living citrus oils are – it is highly likely that any nutrients will evaporate before you get to benefit from them. Vitamins are fat or water soluble, but essential oils are neither of those things so my understanding is that any vitamins simply can’t be sustained or kept in the essential oil.
As a side note, citrus fruits – while they do contain vitamin C – are not one of the top foods for Vitamin C content so the concept of procuring enough vitamin C from an essential oil to cover off any dietary deficiencies really is quite a myth.
Having said that, just because you can’t obtain nutrients from citrus oils, doesn’t meant they’re useless to us from a health perspective. The citrus oils all contain a constituent known as limonene which has some really exciting health benefits. A great place to start researching those benefits is PubMed.
There a lot of incredible health benefits of citrus oils, but vitamins aren’t one of them.
Do you have some citrus oils at home? How do you use them?