Petitgrain Essential Oil
Petitgrain Oil is sometimes also known as Bitter Orange Leaf Oil.
Though steam distilled from the same botanical species as neroli and bitter orange, Petitgrain Essential Oil possesses its own characteristically unique aroma. Petitgrain Oil is distilled from the leaves and sometimes the twigs and branches of the tree whereas Neroli Essential Oil is distilled from the blossoms and Orange Essential Oil is typically cold pressed from the rinds of the fruits.
Because it is distilled from the leaves and sometimes also the twigs, it is less floral and less citrusy in fragrance than Neroli or Orange. Petitgrain Oil possesses an aroma that is sweet, yet tart with subtle floral and woody characteristics. It blends especially well with citrus, floral and wood oils. It's a joy to work with for aromatic blending.
Petitgrain Essential Oil that is from France is known as Petitgrain Bigarade Essential Oil. [Salvatore Battaglia, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy Third Edition Volume 1 - Foundations & Materia Medica (Brisbane Australia: Black Pepper Creative, 2018), 482.]
Emotionally, I find Petitgrain Essential Oil to be uplifting, calming and balancing. I tend to include Petitgrain Oil in my inhalers intended to help ease anxiety and high stress situations. Like Neroli and Lavender essential oils, Petitgrain Oil contains the calming ester linalyl acetate and the calming/anti-bacterial monoterpenol linaolol.
Petitgrain Oil is sometimes known as Poor Man's Neroli because it is much less expensive than Neroli Oil but it offers many of the same uses and benefits as neroli. Petitgrain is an essential oil that doesn't often get the recognition it deserves because it too often lives in the shadow of Neroli. Petitgrain is an absolutely wonderful oil to learn about and get to know for its own merits.
Typically when the common name of an essential oil is simply listed as Petitgrain Essential Oil, the oil is likely distilled from Citrus aurantium. However, it is important to doublecheck because steam distilled Combava Petitgrain, Citrus hysterix, and Clementine Petitgrain, Citrus clementia Essential Oils are also available from a few sources. Each definitely has its own lovely aroma and unique aromatic characteristics. The natural chemical composition of each oil also varies, and it appears that Petitgrain derived from Citrus aurantium is the most abundant in Linalyl acetate and linalol. The GC/MS reports that I've seen for both Combava Petitgrain and Clementine Petitgrain have been a bit conflicting, so I hesitate to suggest what the typical composition should be until I have more definitive information.
The aroma of Petitgrain Essential Oil is a wonderful addition to blends especially formulated for men (women love it too). Petitgrain is considered an aphrodisiac.
Common Method of Extraction
Plant Part Typically Used
Leaves and Twigs
Clear with a Yellow Tinge
Strength of Initial Aroma
Petitgrain Essential Oil smells fresh, sweet, yet tart with subtle floral and woody characteristics.
Petitgrain Essential Oil Uses
- Oily Skin
Source: Julia Lawless, The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Updated Edition) (London: Harper Thorsons, 2014), 163.
- Linalyl acetate
- Geranyl acetate (reported for Bigarade Petitgrain Oil)
See Essential Oil Safety for more complete list of typical constituents.
Source: B.M. Lawrence, Essential Oils 1988-1991 (Wheaton: Allured Publishing, 1995), 107-110. Source cited in Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 374.
Petitgrain Essential Oil Safety Information
Tisserand and Young do not indicate any special precautions when using Petitgrain Oil. Reading Tisserand and Young's full profile is recommended. [Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 374-375.]
Unlike many other citrus oils, Petitgrain Oil is not considered phototoxic.
General Safety Information
Do not take any oils internally and do not apply undiluted essential oils, absolutes, CO2s or other concentrated essences onto the skin without advanced essential oil knowledge or consultation from a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. For general dilution information, read AromaWeb's Guide to Diluting Essential Oils. If you are pregnant, epileptic, have liver damage, have cancer, or have any other medical problem, use oils only under the proper guidance of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. Use extreme caution when using oils with children and be sure to first read the recommended dilution ratios for children. Consult a qualified aromatherapy practitioner before using oils with children, the elderly, if you have medical issues or are taking medications. Before using this or any essential oil, carefully read AromaWeb's Essential Oil Safety Information page. For in-depth information on oil safety issues, read Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young.
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