On a recent grocery shopping trip I came across a large bag of mandarin oranges that were on sale and calling my name…so I had to bring it home! After eating my fill (and then some!) I didn’t know what to do with the rest of the tangerines, but I figured I could come up with something! After a bit of searching, I came across an idea that sounded like it was tailor-made for me… using the peels to make homemade orange oil!
Orange oil makes a great addition to homemade cleaners for several reasons. First, it has amazing grease-cutting abilities, so you can power through tough messes and stains. Second, it has antibacterial qualities to help kill germs. And finally, it smells wonderfully fresh. (Did you know the scent of citrus can actually help boost your mood and energy? Fun fact!)
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So I whipped up my very own batch of orange oil, and I’ve already added it to a few of my favorite homemade cleaners. Here’s how you can make your own orange oil at home!
Homemade Orange Oil
- A lot of orange peels*
- A couple of mason jars
- Mesh sieve
- Rubbing alcohol
*Note: We used the peels from a bag of mandarin oranges, which yielded a few tablespoons of concentrated orange oil. You can make more or less, depending on your needs!
Start by peeling your oranges. Or you can start a “stash” of citrus peels if you’re working your way through a bag or box of oranges. Just set them in a dish on your countertop and flip the peels once a day until you’re ready to use them.
Next you’ll dry the orange peels. We used our dehydrator, and the peels were dry in about 5 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, your oven would work just as well! Place them in your oven on the lowest possible temperature for 30-60 minutes.
You’ll know the peels are properly dry when you can snap them in half with your fingers.
Once the peels are dry, place them in a mason jar (or two, depending on how much you have). Fill the remainder of the jar with rubbing alcohol. We used the 70% solution, but a 90% solution would be even better.
Place the lid on the jar(s), and let the peels soak for about a week. The rubbing alcohol will draw the natural oils out of the peels, and you’ll see the alcohol start to turn orange as it soaks.
The next step is to drain the peels. Line a fine-mesh sieve with a piece of folded cheesecloth, then place it over a wide dish. Pour the alcohol and peels into the sieve and let the liquid drain out.
Then bundle the peels up in the cheesecloth and squeeze as much of the remaining liquid out as you can. Discard the peels.
Now you’ll play my least favorite game – The Waiting Game. ;-) Leave the dish of liquid uncovered on your countertop for about a week or so. Over time, the alcohol and water will evaporate off, leaving the orange oil behind.
Perform a smell test once a day when you reach the week mark, to tell if the oil is ready. If you still smell alcohol, let it evaporate for another day or two. When it smells really strongly of orange, it’s ready. :-)
Using Your Orange Oil
Store your finished orange oil in an airtight glass container. Add a small amount to anything you think could use some fresh orange scent or a boost of cleaning power. You can add it to hand sanitizers, mop water, homemade all-purpose cleaners, and more!