You are currently viewing Neroli oil: uses, history and fragrance of orange blossom essence

Neroli oil: uses, history and fragrance of orange blossom essence

During springtime, orange blossoms cover the bitter orange trees typical of urban landscapes of cities like Seville, Valencia or Murcia with their white colour and natural fragrance, offering a few lucky ones the pleasure of enjoying their pleasant aroma while walking through the city in this joyful time of the year.

The Spanish name for the orange blossom (azahar) comes from classical Arabic term az-zahr, which originally meant “flower.” The meaning of this term would eventually evolve to be used as “luck”, which originated the Spanish Arabism “azar” (luck).



It is the suggestive olfactory notes of this flower which has made the orange blossom one of the most used ingredients in perfumes and air fresheners. This aroma can be found in orange blossom water, absolute or essential oil among others.

Although the flowers of citron and lemon tree are also recognised as blossom, the neroli essential oil is obtained from the distilling of the flowers of bitter orange tree (citrus x aurantium).

This essential oil received its current denomination during the 17th century, when Anne-Marie Orsini, Princess of Nerola, started to use the orange blossom fragrance to perfume her gloves and baths.

Its delicate floral smell is reminiscent of that of jasmine, but also providing refreshing citrus touches that makes its use as a quite common top note in modern fragrances. This essential oil is also highly valued due to its compatibility with most citrus and floral essential oils.


Orange blossom history

Originally from the lower parts of the Himalayas, the bitter orange tree is believed to have been introduced for the first time in Europe by Genoese travellers, settling definitively in the Iberian Peninsula when it arrived in Al-Andalus in the 10th century by the Arabs. The bitter orange tree would end up becoming an emblematic tree of Andalusia over the centuries, particularly of Seville.

The Arabs obtained the orange blossom water through the distillation of the tree’s flowers, which were attributed with healing properties in addition to being used as a perfume. Currently, this water can be easily found in recipes from the Middle East, Northern Africa, France and Greece as well as in Spain, where it is one of the most representative ingredients of the three kings cake.

It was also the Arabs that introduced the custom of brides wearing orange blossom flowers due to their beauty, fragrance and symbology. These flowers can still be found in bridal bouquets and wedding ornaments, which has also led to the manufacturing of wax orange blossoms.


Current uses of neroli oil

Neroli is currently one of the most widely used floral oils in the manufacturing of aromas and fragrances, with a large part of its main applications in fine perfumery and the manufacturing of air fresheners, detergents, shampoos, etc.

It is also widely used in cosmetics, pharmacology and food sectors, and it is even rumoured that this essential oil is a part of the secret recipe for Coca-Cola.

At Destilerías Muñoz Gálvez we design fragrances with neroli essential oil for all kinds of applications, making its fresh green notes the protagonists of countless compositions seeking to evoke spring sensations.

Do you want your product to count on the fragrance of the enveloping olfactory notes of orange blossom? Contact us without obligation.