Condo Blues: How to Make Orange Essential Oil Extract from Orange Peels

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to Make Orange Essential Oil Extract from Orange Peels

It’s clementine season! I snatched a box up the first minute I saw them in the grocery store and raced home. As usual I ate so many so often I got canker sores in my mouth from the citric acid. I don't care. At least I'm safe from scurvy!

The orange peels piled up. I can’t compost citrus. I used most of the ideas I wrote about 10 Ways to Use Orange Peels. I still have a pile of orange peels. If I had the distillation equipment I could make pure essential oil from orange peels but I don't. Since I want to use this to give a citrus oil cleaming oomph to in my homemade cleaning products, I will make an orange oil extract (this is also called a tincture) instead. Orange oil extract is a bit less potent than a pure essential oil, so it doesn't really work well for aromatherphy, candle, or cold process soap making. I save real orange essential oil for those things.

However an orange oil extract (tincture) works well for things like DIY cleaning products, melt and pour soaps, and homemade room sprays.  You might need to use a bit more since an extract is less concentrated than a distilled essential oil depending upon how prominent you want the scent in your project.

How to Make Orange Essential Oil Extract

You will need

Orange peels - if you don't have enough orange peels on hand you can buy dried orange peels from Amazon here.)

Grain alcohol or vodka* (a cheap grocery store brand such as Popov vodka is perfect for this project because it tastes downright nasty in a mixed drink.)

Tray, stainless steel cookie sheet like this one, or towel

Knife or food processor (learn more here) - the food processor/chopper is easier!

Two jars, one should have a tight fitting lid

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Make it

1. Eat a bunch of oranges, clementines, or mandarins and save the peels. Yum, yum, yum!''

2. Lay the peels on the cookie sheet, tray or towel and let them air dry (do not put them in a dehydrator or you will lose the oil!) until the peels are rock hard. It took my peels about one week to dry.

3. Use the food process/chopper/knife to cut the dry peels into small bits. Do not over process the peels in the food processor/chopper until they are mushy or you will lose the oil in the peel.

4. Add the chopped peels to the jar with the tight fitting lid and cover the peels in grain alcohol or vodka.

5. Shake the jar to release the oil several times a day for several days. The longer you let the peels steep the more orange oil you will extract. I let mine sit in a sorta sunny spot on my kitchen counter for a weekend. 
Freaky how it glows in the sunlight, huh?

6. Use a coffee filter to strain liquid from the orange peels and into the second jar.

7. Place a clean coffee filter or cloth on top of the jar of liquid. Allow the alcohol to evaporate from the jar. I let mine sit for one week.
My orange essential oil after one week.

  1. Optional: I had sediment in the bottom of my jar of orange oil after one week. It isn't going to hurt anything. I had an extra disposable coffee filters that I know I wouldn't use for coffee ( I use a reusable gold coffee filter. It's supposed to make better coffee.) I strained the orange oil again with a clean coffee filter into an amber jar (a repurposed yeast jar.) A dark colored jar will keep sunlight from degrading the essential oil.
The disposable filters came with a new coffeemaker. 

  1. What you have left is a jar of orange essential oil!

I added my essential oil to my homemade daily shower cleaner. The orange oil cut through soap scum like a house on fire!

How do you like to use essential oil? Which one?
If you'd rather buy than DIY, check out the products below!

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