Tutorial: Make Your Own Orange Essential Oil
It can be pretty difficult to make essential oils without the fancy equipment and many pounds of herbal materials, but making citrus fruit essential oil is totally doable at home. Of course homemade orange essential oil is not going to 100% pure and perfect, it is still useful and something to feel happy about. When it comes to being happy, it’s the small things that really matter.
Things you need:
1. The peels of your desired citrus
2. A container that you can seal
3. A bottle of vodka
4. A filter (like a hand colander, fabric, coffee filter, paper towel etc.)
5. Another container to temporarily hold your mixture
6. Mesh-like fabric
I bought a crate of clementines, so I am making clementine essential oil. I like that the peels do not have very much of the white flesh compared to regular navel oranges which have a lot, most of the clementine peel is the collection of the cells that hold the essential oil (that is what is spraying when you pull apart the peel). Clementines are also easy to buy in December, and they are also super easy to peel. AND they are super tasty! You can use absolutely any citrus fruit you want for this tutorial, whether it be lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, bergamot, a blend of different citrus, etc., the options are just about endless.
Look at that pretty orange vodka mixture!
Set your jar of peels aside for about a week or two, as they sit you will notice that your vodka will start to turn a bright orange color! Each day, give your jar a good shake so you can beat the oil out of it. If you want to, you can open the jar up and mash them a little bit. Feel free to continue to add peels to the jar as it steeps, just make sure that your jar is sealed between openings so that your alcohol does not evaporate out.
Day 2: Check it out, it’s not so clear anymore! We added quite a few more peels since the day before.
Day 4: Smash! We want to press that oil out! Don’t worry if you make some sediment in your jar from smashing the peels, we’ll filter that out later.
Day 10: There’s lots of clementine sediment from the peel, and the peels have softened a little bit. We’re going to go ahead and lay some mesh in our bowl to pour our orange peels onto to separate our liquid.
Now pull your mesh up and squeeze out all of the liquids into the bowl.
And then we’re going to go ahead and pour our alcohol mixture back into the jar.
And then leave the jar OPEN so that the alcohol can begin to evaporate out of the jar. I put a piece of the mesh from earlier on top of the opening so that we would not get any contaminants in the jar.
The next day the sediment sank to the bottom.
We decided to filter out the majority of the sediment now, you don’t have to do it at this step, but can wait until the end (when we decided to filter it again anyways). The alcohol mixture was dumped back into our metal bowl to be put back into the jar through our filter.
Some sediment got through our filters, so we need to filter it again… It got a little clearer anyways!
As the days went on (sorry, I don’t know what day we are on at this point), the alcohol evaporated out and the liquid got darker and darker! Our essential oil is being left in the jar!
That took some time, but we made it down to the oil! You can’t really tell, because this is a wide jar, but the oil is a little murky from the left behind sediment. We’re going to put it through a paper towel again. I would use a coffee filter, but I don’t drink coffee, so I used what was on hand.
If you are using a paper towel, don’t forget to squeeze it! A lot of the oil is unfortunately absorbed by the towel.
Once squeezed, we got a lot more oil:
That looks like a lot of oil, but it’s a small finger bowl, so we got maybe a tablespoon of orange essential oil out of this experiment. I think the process is very cool, so it doesn’t really matter how much oil I get out of it. Woohoo, success!
– I should have chopped my peels into smaller pieces. You will get a little more oil by doing that!
– Use a coffee filter.
– A higher proof alcohol (faster evaporation) would have made this experiment go quicker. I used 100 proof, so it took longer than if I had used my 200 proof perfuming alcohol… But then I would have had an unfair advantage 😉
Feel free to use your citrus oil for household cleaning, aromatherapy, etc! I’m not sure what the shelf life of this would be, since it is not as pure as distillation would be, so stick it into your fridge for a longer lasting oil.