Citrus Showdown

By Charna from Providence Perfume Co., 100% natural perfume

 I love the scent of citrus.  Bring on the blood orange, the yuzu the red mandarin!  Recently I ordered a slew of citrus oils to restock my supply.  Ordering citrus oils in smaller quantities is important as citrus essential oils can loose their fresh aroma quickly.  Cold pressed citrus oils have the most incredible aroma (important for perfumery use) but also the shortest shelf life due to the high proportion of terpenes which promote oxidation.  Best to purchase these citrus oils in small quantities and replace more frequently.  Another tip to keep citrus oils vibrant?  Store in the refrigerator to help preserve freshness.

As a citrus loving perfumer, one conundrum I face is the photosensitizing nature of cold pressed citrus oils.  Use too much cold pressed lime essential oil in a perfume and you may find the area where you spritzed darkened and irritated after sun exposure.  Bergaptene free bergamot oil is essential to any perfumers palette as the photosensitizing bergaptene has been removed.  Steam distilled citrus oils do not photosensitize, but I find the aroma dull.  Cold pressed citrus oils sing, whereas steam distilled citrus oils hum . . . quietly . . . off-key.  You get the idea.  Always utilize caution when blending with cold pressed citrus oils.  Andrea Butje of The Aromahead Institute recently published an informative article on citrus oils that don't photosensitize such as green mandarin and sweet orange. Great info!  To read her blog post in it's entirety, click here:

I recently ordered yuzu, blood orange, bitter orange, green bitter orange, bergamot and 10-fold orange essential oils.  I've never experienced any of the folded citrus oils.  I was curious about the usage of folded oils in candles and possibly perfume application.  Folded citrus oils are concentrated and lower in d-Limonene terpenes. The higher the number of the folded oil, the more times it's been folded, or concentrated. I must admit I was disappointed by the 10x orange essential oil.  Despite it's strength, it lacked the fresh quality cold pressed essential oils possess.  Smelled from the bottle the 10 fold orange oil smells strongly of the bitter white pith of the orange rind.  When diluted and applied to the skin, the bitter pithy aroma eventually dissipates leaving a long lasting orange aroma.  Further experimentation is needed to discern if folded citrus oils will suit my perfume palette.  

While I've been a fan of Liberty Natural Products cold pressed Dominican Bitter Orange oil, my new bottle arrived smelling dull.  A disappointment.  Happily I ordered Bitter Green Orange from Eden Botanicals which was fresh and green and much more to my liking.  Similar in aroma to a sharp yuzu it adds a crisp clean top note aroma I adore.

With the low cost of citrus oils, sampling from a variety of suppliers is always preferential as quality varies wildly.  Have a citrus gem or dud to share?  Feel free to leave a comment.

If you have any questions about a natural fragrance or a natural perfume please contact Charna at 401.256.8272.

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I tried the 10 fold a number of years ago through Glory Bee and it was nice.


Oh, by the way yesterday I made Key Lime bars(like lemon bars). I’m only making that recipe once in a great while-it was a lot of work! I had to not only squeeze the juice out of all those little limes, but I had to take a paring knife and carefully slice the zest from them as well(but I was surrounded by fragrant cloud of Key Lime essence the whole time-heaven!). However it was so worth it. I brought them to work today(there is no way I could or should eat the whole batch by myself). They were a hit! People loved ’em! I got so many compliments and people were swooning when they were eating them! :D Even my best friend who is super-picky about desserts loved them! I want to try the recipe with passionfruit, or coconut, or mango, or some other citrus, like tangerine.

Brian Shea

Hi Katie,
Thanks for the tip! I’ll experiment with adding a touch of the folded oil to my cold pressed citrus oils to see how they support each other. I also have a five fold lemon oil that I like to add to litsea cubeba for maximum LEMON aroma.


Citruses are tricky! I love the folded oils for soap-making, because they really hold up and the citrus aroma lasts and lasts. For perfumery, one drop of a folded oil may support your fresh cold-pressed oils. I have found that the folded oils work in perfumery like a citrus base note, which can anchor the citrus top notes and allow them to last a bit longer (if that’s desired). But mostly I use folded orange oil for soap. I’ve never tried any other folded oil than orange.


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