February 3, 2017



The main method for extracting Tangerine essential oil, as it is for other members of the genus Citrus, is certainly cold pressing. This is because the essence contained in the peel is sufficiently high, that it is enough to exert light pressure to break the cellular sacks containing the essential oil for it to come out.  


However this does not mean that Tangerine essential oil can’t also be obtained by steam distillation!


Clearly the olfactory aspect of these two essential oils will be different, since the distillation using heat and the production of water vapor cannot help but allow the evaporation of the lighter and more volatile chemical molecules. While a cold mechanical process, such as squeezing, will also extract heavier and less volatile molecules, leading in part to a different chemical composition.


But let’s proceed in order and let’s see step by step how to get our homemade Tangerine essential oil.


What do we need?

  • Small distiller, about 12 L capacity
  • Tangerine peel, about 1.5 kg
  • Running water
  • Electric plate or gas burner

Step 1 – prepare the plant material:

First of all we have to peel and eat a lot of Tangerines; but given the season and the sweetness of this fruit it will not be difficult to fill up with vitamin C!

Now that we have our rinds available, we can reduce their size by cutting them into smaller pieces. This will increase the contact surface between the plant material and the water vapor, allowing an easier extraction of the essential oil.

We should not reduce it into too small pieces, in order not to risk losing part of the volatile essence.


Step 2 – prepare the distiller:

First we have to fill our distiller with water up to the bottom grid, then place it on the electric plate or the gas stove and add the chopped Tangerine peel.

We cover everything with the appropriate grill and close the distiller with its hinge.

We turn on the electric hotplate/stove at a high enough temperature to start heating the internal water.

We connect the condenser to running water, making sure to connect the water inlet pipe to the bottom link and the pipe for its outlet in the top link.


Step 3 – start the distillation: 

At  40 ° C the distiller’s temperature rises quite quickly and already around 90 ° C degrees the first droplets of distillate will be seen coming out.

At this point we can lower the heating temperature of the electric plate / stove and keep monitoring the temperature of the cooling water of the condenser and of the distillate that is coming out, which must remain warm.

Always remember to place the graduated cylinder for the distillate next to a container to avoid losing outgoing aromatic water.


Step 4 – bottling our essential oil:

Once the distillation has ended, it is only necessary to separate the essential oil from the aromatic water, easily identifiable inside the graduated cylinder.

To do this, just pour the contents of the graduated cylinder inside a separating funnel, let it rest for a few minutes and gradually open the funnel tap, dripping the aromatic water first and then in a special amber bottle the Tangerine essential oil entirely produced by us!


Learn more with the video:


Step 5 – maturation and conservation:

As with any freshly distilled essential oil, it is necessary that it ripens before you can fully enjoy its fragrance. Try to smell your essence day by day, to discover and treasure all of its maturation stages.

Regarding the conservation, the essential oil is a very delicate substance that can easily change and turn rancid, thus losing its natural scent and developing substances that could also be harmful. Therefore it is important to keep it always in dark glass bottles away from direct light and heat sources.

As we all know, the use of essential oils is done by drops; in fact, their use must be limited to small quantities as these substances are highly concentrated and rich in active molecules, many of which can also have toxic effects. Therefore, when using them it is necessary to do so carefully. Ask experts for advice.


And now all is left to do is to make the most of your personal Tangerine essential oil!



More informations on:

Steam distillation


Other articles that may interest you:

Essential oil: what are they?

How to distill Mint