Neroli oil is a plant oil produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree (Citrus aurantium subsp. amara or Bigaradia). Its scent is sweet, honeyed and somewhat metallic, whereas bergamot, being rich in linalool (which is the main component in lavender), has more of an aromatic, soft floralcy.
The blossoms are gathered, usually by hand, in late April to early May. The oil is produced by water distillation, as the blossom is too fragile to endure distillation with direct steam.
By the end of the 17th century, Anne Marie Orsini, duchess of Bracciano and princess of Nerola, Italy, introduced the essence of bitter orange tree as a fashionable fragrance by using it to perfume her gloves and her bath. Since then, the term "neroli" has been used to describe this essence. Neroli has a refreshing and distinctive, spicy aroma with sweet and flowery notes.
It is one of the most widely used floral oils in perfumery. It is a nontoxic, nonirritant, nonsensitizing, nonphototoxic substance. More than 12% of all modern quality perfumes use neroli as their principal ingredient. It blends well with any citrus oil, various floral absolutes, and most of the synthetic components available on the market. Neroli oil is a classic element in fragrance design and one of the most commonly used in the industry.
It is also has a limited use in flavourings. Neroli oil is reportedly one of the ingredients in the closely guarded secret recipe for the Coca-Cola soft drink. It is a flavoring ingredient of open source cola recipes, although some variants consider it as optional, owing to the high cost.
Due to its linalool content, neroli is considered to have a soothing effect on the nervous system.[unreliable source?] Traditionally, neroli oil was used not only to relieve tension and anxiety, but also to increase circulation. A solution is made by adding three or four drops of the essential oil to one cup of either sweet almond oil or wheat germ oil. If the solution is to be used on children or pregnant women, only half the quantity of essential oil should be used.
- "This American Life, episode#437, Original Recipe". Retrieved 2011-02-15.
- "OpenCola Softdrink". Retrieved 2009-05-06.
- "Cube-Cola Recipe". Cube Cinema, Bristol. 25 October 2008.
- Chen, Ying-Ju; Cheng, Fuchou; Shih, Ying; Chang, Tsong-Min; Wang, Ming-Fu; and Lan, Sen-Sen (2008). "Inhalation of Neroli Essential Oil and Its Anxiolytic Effects". Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine 5 (1): 13. doi:10.2202/1553-3840.1143.