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aromatherapy 101

Citrus Savvy

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Come summer, there's nothing like the clean, refreshing scent of citrus to awaken the senses. Aura Cacia offers an organic trio -- lemon, sweet orange, and grapefruit -- that provides unsurpassed quality. Quality is always important, but when it comes to citrus, it's absolutely crucial. Be sure that the citrus oils you use are high quality, organic and cold-pressed (rather than steam distilled). Here's why.


A growing number of consumers are sensitive to the harmful effects of pesticides and herbicides; we often buy organic when possible, and scrub produce in an effort to remove chemical residues. With citrus oils, organic is a particularly important quality factor because the rinds of citrus fruits absorb the chemicals when a crop is sprayed, and citrus oils are extracted directly from these rinds. That's why Aura Cacia has made it a priority to offer third-party certified organic lemon, sweet orange and grapefruit essential oils.


Citrus oils share a similar scent -- they all contain the terpene hydrocarbon limonene. Subtle mixes of other minor constituents -- unique to each citrus fruit -- produce variations in aroma that allow us to distinguish between them. But that's the only variation you should be able to detect.

Poor quality essential oils are sometimes mixed with other synthetic oils, producing a tainted scent. If you place a drop or two of such an oil on a piece of blotter paper, it will leave an off-smelling dryout note when it evaporates. High-quality oils will smell fresh -- much like the fruit itself -- and leave little or no dryout note.

Cold Pressed

Most essential oils are obtained by steam distillation. But the heat of this process breaks down the acids in citrus fruits and diminishes the citral content of the fresh oil. As a result, citrus oils that are steam distilled often have a sharp, harsh, bittersweet aroma. "Cold pressed," oils, on the other hand, are separated from the rind of the fruit (which is not actually cold, but room temperature) by grinding or rasping and then pressing without heat. It's a far less efficient method -- yielding only about 1.5 pounds instead of about 25 pounds of oil for every ton of fresh fruit -- but the result is a light, subtle, fresh aroma reminiscent of the fresh peel.

Because steam distillation substantially changes the chemical constituent profiles of the oils, cold-pressed citrus oils are preferred by aromatherapists, who rely on them for a range of effects.

The Aromatherapy Effects of Citrus Oils

Lemon oil has a tangy, fruity aroma that is uplifting and cleansing. Aromatherapists use it to produce a cheerful, fresh atmosphere, dispel mental fatigue and inspire increased concentration and awareness. Highly astringent, it's useful in cosmetics and body care products, as well as household cleansers and fresheners. It blends well with chamomile, eucalyptus, fennel, juniper, lavender, neroli, and ylang ylang.

Sweet orange oil is considered sunny, refreshing and energizing, yet -- because of its familiarity -- comforting and relaxing. To heighten its refreshing qualities, it is often blended with lemon, bergamot, or grapefruit. To enhance its comforting aspects, it's combined with neroli, lavender or jasmine, or with spice oils like cinnamon, cloves, or allspice.

Grapefruit oil is bright and crisp and, like the other citrus oils, it's an astringent. Aromatherapists value its refreshing, cheering, and energizing effects. The sweet and familiar scent can evoke warm feelings and help release resentments and bottled emotions. Grapefruit blends well with lemon, palmarosa, bergamot, neroli, rosemary, cypress, lavender, geranium, and cardamom.

Note: Citrus oils are photosensitizers, so don't use them on skin that will be exposed to sunlight.

Try our trio of perfect essential oils -- grown and harvested without the use of chemical herbicides or pesticides and extracted with methods that maintain the integrity, chemical constituency and scent of the natural oils. Aura Cacia lemon, sweet orange and grapefruit essential oils are pure, organic and unadulterated -- citrus oils you can use with confidence.


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