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Citronella Essential Oil: benefits, properties and uses

Citronella is a genus of aromatic plants that includes a wide variety of specimens. Among the most cultivated for its essential oil are Cymbopogon winterianus and Cymbopogon nardus, plants that are considered native to tropical areas which are extended from southern India and Sri Lanka to Southeast Asia.

More than 2,000 years ago it was common in India to use the leaves and essence of this plant in the elaboration of perfumes for the celebration of religious ceremonies. Currently, the extraction processes by which its essential oil is usually obtained are hydro-distillation and steam distillation of its leaves and stems.

From the distillation of the specimens of Cymbopogon winterianus, the Java citronella essential oil is obtained, which, with a greater amount of citronellol (~15%) and citronellal (~35%), has a more citric and lemony smell than that of the oil extracted from the Cymbopogon nardus, with warmer nuances and known as Ceylan citronella essential oil.


Uses and properties of Citronella Essential Oil

Citronella essential oil is currently enjoying great popularity in a wide number of sectors. Some of its uses include:

  • Insect repellent: This essential oil is very popular in a large number of products designed to naturally repel mosquitoes and other insects, due to the proven effectiveness of citronellal. Additionally it is also used in pet flea shampoos.
  • Antifungal and antimicrobial properties: It presents high antifungal and antimicrobial activity, which makes it a highly valuable ingredient when it comes to elaborate products used to eliminate fungi or bacteria.
  • Air Fresheners: Multiple studies state that the smell of citronella essential oil lowers blood pressure and respiratory rate, promoting a positive and relaxed state of mind. This effect makes it the ideal candidate for products such as scented candles or mikado air fresheners.
  • Perfumery and cosmetics: In addition to having a large amount of citronellal that gives it a characteristic smell reminiscent of lemon, citronella essential oil has a high percentage of citronellol which, with a floral smell reminiscent of roses, is extremely popular in cosmetics and perfumery products. It is also commonly used in skin care and personal care products due to its elegant fragrance and the skin’s high tolerance to this ingredient.
  • Home care products and detergency: The citronellol present in the essential oil of citronella is also frequently used, due to its high stability, in the elaboration of fragrances for detergents, soaps and other cleaning products.
  • Flavours: In Asian cuisine, citronella has been a natural ingredient since ancient times, being used in Vietnamese gastronomy to marinate meat and flavour sups and fishes. In the food industry, its oil is very common as a flavouring ingredient for drinks, candies, ice creams and other foods.

At DMG we develop fragrances with citronella essential oil for all kinds of applications, turning its citrus notes and slight woody nuances into the protagonists of a high number of aromatic compositions.

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