Asking me to name my favorite essential oil is a little like asking a parent to name their favorite child. They’re each wonderful in their own unique way, and I love them all. Still, there are two essences that I could not imagine life without: neroli and orange blossom.
Neroli and orange blossom are among the most important and widely used floral essences in perfumery. Both are extracted from the freshly picked flowers of the bitter orange tree (citrus aurantium var. amara). Neroli, an essential oil, is obtained through steam distillation of the flowers, while orange blossom, an absolute, is produced via solvent extraction.
Neroli essential oil is an ethereal, sweet white floral with a radiant and mesmerizing top note and slightly green, refreshing citrus back notes. Legend has it that the hauntingly beautiful essence was named after Anne Marie Orsini, the Princess of Nerola, Italy, who in the 17th century used it copiously to scent her gloves and bathwater.
Neroli finds much use in perfumery, providing a fresh yet sophisticated top-to-middle floral note. It's also quite helpful in aromatherapy blends, where its soothing, elevating effect aids in promoting relaxation and relieving stress. A truly hypnotic and uplifting scent, it's considered to be an aphrodisiac.
Orange blossom absolute, a middle note in perfumery, is an indispensable white floral that's similar in character to neroli but is warmer, headier, more full-bodied. Its scent is lush and sultry but at the same time fresh and green, with a long-lasting radiance that helps round out heart notes in many perfumes. It's a beautiful note on its own as well, with a vibe that is at once light-hearted and seductive. Like neroli, it's considered an aphrodisiac.
Cultivated in France, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, bitter orange trees are prolific multi-taskers. In addition to being the source of neroli essential oil and orange blossom absolute, they produce two other essential oils: petitgrain (steam-distilled from the leaves and twigs), and bitter orange (expressed from the orange peel). These oils are used as citrus top notes in perfumery, and in aromatherapy blends for their refreshing, uplifting qualities.
I absolutely adore neroli and orange blossom in perfumes! Now I know something about where they come from, thank you!