Lemon Oil Guide - Benefits, Properties, Characteristics & Composition


Lemon oil is referred to as liquid sunshine due to its refreshing and uplifting aroma. It is one of the preferred essential oil in aromatherapy for its versatility and numerous benefits including alleviating stress, increasing immunity and alertness and rejuvenating skin. Let’s discuss history, composition, characteristics, properties, benefits and usages of lemon oil.

Lemon Oil Details


Lemon, or Citrus limon, is a species of small evergreen tree that belongs to flowering plant family Rutaceae in the Citrus Genus. It is considered to be hybrid of bitter orange and citron.

Lemon tree reaches a height of upto 3-6 meters. It has large, oblong or oval, light green leaves and produces mild flavoured purple-white flowers.

Lemon tree is widely cultivated throughout world due to many benefits. Lemon juice and peel are widely used as a domestic seasoning. The lemon juice, which is extracted from the pulp, is widely used as food ingredient at not only domestic but also commercial level. In addition, rind of the lemon fruit is used for garnishing and flavouring and extraction of lemon essential oil.

Lemon is believed to be native of India. It is now grown widely throughout the tropical and subtropical regions. The major lemon producing countries are India, China, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Spain, USA and Israel. However, the largest lemon oil producing countries are Italy, Spain, Argentina, Bolivia and USA.

History of Use of Lemon

Lemon has been cultivated for more than 2,500 years in India. In Middle East, lemon cultivation started after it was introduced by Arab traders around 100 AD.

Although lemon was introduced in Europe around 200 AD, its large scale cultivation started only after Crusaders brought the lemon tree to Europe from Middle East. In European countries, lemon was considered of a ‘cure all’ product. It was used for treatment of fever and was used by sailors to alleviate scurvy.

In Japan, lemon was used in diffusers and flavouring agents for food and perfumes.

Lemon was introduced to Americas in 1493 by Christopher Columbus. In USA, lemon was planted in Florida and California.


Lemon oil is extracted by cold-pressing (expressing) the fresh lemon peel. Lemon when green yields more essence. Lemon has a moderate yield, around 120-150 KGs of lemon are required to produce 1 KGs of lemon oil.

Characteristics of Lemon Oil

Lemon oil is a fluid with pale yellow to orange or greenish colour and thin watery viscosity. It has aroma characteristic of fresh lemon pericarp and is clean, fresh, sharp, sweet, fruity and light.

Name Lemon Oil
Botanical Name Citrus Limon
Family Rutaceae
Genus Citrus
Colour Pale Yellow to Orange to Greenish
Aroma Clean, Fresh, Sharp, Sweet, Fruity
Note Top

Composition of Lemon Oil

Like other oils, lemon oil consists of hundreds of compounds including terpenes, monoterpenoid aldehydes, sesquiterpenes, monoterpenols, aliphatic alcohols and esters among others. However, more than 90% of the compounds present in lemon oils are monoterpenes. The major compounds present in lemon oils are limonene, β-pinene, γ-terpinene.

  • Monoterpenes 90–96% (incl. limonene 54–78%, gammaterpinene3–10%, beta-pinene 11%, sabinene, cymene, myrcene)
  • Monoterpenoid aldehydes 2–3% (incl. geranial 0.6–2%, neral 1%, citronellal, nonanal, octanal)
  • Sesquiterpenes (incl. bisabolene 2–4%, bergamotene, caryophyllene)
  • Monoterpenols (incl. linalool, terpineol, trace terpinen-4-ol)
  • Aliphatic alcohols (incl. hexanol, heptanol, octanol, nonalol, decanol)
  • Esters (incl. neryl/geranyl/terpenyl acetate)
  • Coumarins and furanocoumarins (incl. bergamottene, bergaptole, bergapten, scopoletine, umbelliferone, phellopterin)

Lemon oil parameters and characteristics are described in ISO standard 855.

Adulteration of Lemon Oil

The chances of adulteration in lemon oil is high. Lemon oil is adulterated with distilled lemon oil from residues, orange terpenes or limonene from orange terpenes and synthetic citral from Litsea cubeba oil. In addition, if you are not buying high quality therapeutic grade oil, there are chances that you may be buying widely available lemon oil which has been processed to remove the photosensitizing coumarins for use in the food and perfumery industry.

Sometimes lemon oil are adulterated with preservative antioxidants like butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) to increase the shelf life and and prevent rapid oxidation.


Lemon oil blends well with benzoin, elemi, eucalyptus, fennel, geranium, juniper, lavender, neroli, olibanum, chamomile, rose, sandalwood, ylang ylang, and other citrus oils.

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Lemon Essential Oil Profile

Properties of Lemon Oil

Lemon oil has anti-anxiety, antibacterial, antidepressant, anti-fungal, anti-infective, antioxidant, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, carminative, diuretic, immune-system stimulant, lymph decongestant and tonifying properties.

Benefits of Lemon Oil

Stress Buster and Increased Alertness: Lemon oil has anti-depressant properties which helps in times of mental fatigue, anxiety and exhaustion. According to a study conducted to assess psychological and physiological impact of smelling lemon oil, lavender oil and water on mood, it is found that lemon oil has the best result.

Lemon oil energies and refreshes body and mind and increases ability to focus and memorise. In times of confusion, or when needing clarity to make decisions, lemon oil can be a great aid. Lemon oil has stimulating yet calming effect on mind that help increase concentration level and alertness.

According to a Japanese study conducted to find out the effect of smells on alertness, it is found that worker errors decrease by 21% when lavender is used, by 33% when jasmine is used and 54% when a lemon odour is used. It has been reported that many business diffuse lemon oil in the offices to increase the alertness and reduce the errors.

Skin Care: Lemon oil is a perfect addition to daily skin care regimen to help reduce inflammation and toning the skin due to astringent, antiseptic and detoxifier properties of lemon oil.

Lemon oil is useful in deep cleansing of the skin when applied topically due to its astringent actions. In addition, it help in reducing the oily or waxy substances produced by the sebaceous glands and thus keeping the skin clean and reducing the inflammation like acne, cysts, hyperplasia.

Lemon oil also helps in detoxifying and rejuvenating the skin. It remove dead skin cells, brighten skin complexion and reverse sun damage.

Immunity: Lemon oil is beneficial in production of white blood cells, strengthen the immune system and help in the digestion processes. Lemon oil helps in protecting against cold, fevers and relieving throat infections, bronchitis, asthma, and flu. Lemon oil aid in blood flow and reduce blood pressure and useful in treating circulatory problems like spider veins, and broken capillaries.

When mixed with peppermint essential oil, it may speed up the effect to increase the blood flow.

Candidiasis: Candidiasis is a fungus infection that occur due to over growth of candida, a type of yeast fungus that live in small amount in human body, specifically in places like your mouth and belly, or on skin.

According to a recent study, anti-fungal properties of lemon oil makes it effective natural remedy against Candida strains, specifically Candida albicans.

Disinfectant: Because of lemon oil’s antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, it is a powerful germicide and natural disinfectant. Lemon oil is one of the best option to disinfect wooden cutting boards and kitchen counters. Soak kitchen cleaning cloths in a bowl of water with several drops of lemon oil to disinfect.

It prevents or inhibits the spread of infections and can be effective against airborne bugs in hospital rooms, schools and waiting rooms. It has been reported that hospitals in Europe diffuse lemon oil to reduce the chance of the spread of viruses and bacteria.

Products: Lemon essential oil is used in a number of cosmetic products, detergents, body care products, massage oils, perfumes, etc. In addition, it is widely used in food industry as flavouring agent mostly in beverages such as alcohol and soft drinks.


Lemon oil is a safe non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing oil. However, please note that lemon oil can have photo-toxic effect. Hence, it is preferably should not be applied before going out into sunlight for prolonged periods.

In addition, lemon oil may cause skin irritation to some individuals; hence, a patch test must be conducted before use. lemon oil should be diluted with carrier oil before applying topically.

Consult your healthcare provider if you’re pregnant, nursing, taking medications, or being treated for other health challenges. Keep out of reach of children.

Care must be taken in storing lemon oil. Must be stored in a cold and dark place as lemon oil is highly prone to oxidation. The shelf life of lemon oil is usually around 1-2 years under best storage conditions.


The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only, it is not intended to treat, cure, prevent or, diagnose any disease or condition. Nor is it intended to prescribe in any way. This information is for educational purposes only and may not be complete, nor may its data be accurate.

Kymberly Keniston-Pond. Essential Oils 101
KG Stiles. The Essential Oils Complete Reference Guide
Konstantine, Ramit. Essential Oils: A Complete Guide to Healing With Natural Herbal Remedies, Alternative Therapies, and Using Essential Oils For Beauty, Essential Oils For Stress and Weight Loss
Aromatherapy and Essential Oils for Beginners: Au Naturoil: A Guide for Stress Relief, Healing Remedies and Natural Cleaners - With Over 100 Essential Oil Recipes.
Logan, Tyler. “Essential Oils: A Beginners Guide to Essential Oils and Aromatherapy (Essential Oils and Aromatherapy 101)
Jean Valnet. “The Practice of Aromatherapy
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